Appetite: Wicked Emeralds, snail sliders, pindi chole, pickled Fresno chiles, and more

Pub date June 17, 2009
SectionFood & Drink

Every week, Virginia Miller of personalized itinerary service and monthly food, drink, and travel newsletter,, shares foodie news, events, and deals. View the last installment here.

Happy hour at Grand Cafe — delight on a stick. Photo by Virginia Miller


Grand Cafe Happy Hour
Grand Cafe is one of those long time SF classics it’s easy for locals to forget is here, inside Hotel Monaco. Ideally located in the "theater district" for a little tete-a-tete or pre/post A.C.T. performance, Grand Cafe recently reopened with a new happy hour that lasts four hours each weekday with a cocktail list 23-deep, playfully employing current nearby theater plays (like one of three drinks as an ode to "Wicked": Elephaba’s Wicked Emerald-tini, a refreshing mix of Hendrick’s Gin, Ciroc Vodka with a sweet touch from St. Germain Elderflower and herbal notes of basil, cucumber and lemongrass syrup). During happy hour, drinks and appetizers, like gougere d’escargot (delicious escargot sliders!), salt cod beignets, salmon or duck rillette, are a mere $3-7, plus there’s $1 oysters and a 400-plus wine list. PS: the bar menu online notes the "secret" employee discount they give off bar food (50%!) on Monday nights if you mention the password, "Moulin Rouge". A truly happy "happy hour".
3pm – 7pm, Monday-Friday
501 Geary, SF



Wexler’s opened Friday with gourmet ‘Que and Southern flavors in a former firehouse
The former Les Amis has been dramatically redone into Wexler’s, a space that reminds me of hip European bistros: lots of white, wood, clean line minimalism, warmed by 15 draught beers (of the Allegash and Ommegang kind) and generous wine list. This is "new American BBQ" from chef Charlie Kleinman, of Fish & Farm and Fifth Floor. I went for lunch (priced at $7-12) opening day and enjoyed fresh Monterey Bay Squid Salad with fried green tomato chunks, frisee, pickled Fresno chilies. A 4505 Meats Mission Dog is topped with bacon (there’s the Mission part), chilies and caramelized onions. A straightforward "Sloppy Joe" on an Acme roll was probably my initial favorite, the tender Texas-style burnt ends packing rich flavor. They were out of both desserts I wanted on opening day (the one I tried didn’t excite), but they’re certainly working out the usual opening kinks and I can’t wait to come back and try Sour Cream Japanese Pear Pie and Inside-Out Root Beer Float (house-made vanilla soda with Humphry Slocumbe root beer ice cream – yes!) Dinner ($9-23) equally intrigues with Smoked Maine Lobster, BBQ Scotch Eggs, Wexler’s Plate of Pork, and Hush Puppies. A balanced selection of fine bourbons, brandies, and other spirits make ideal pairings with smoky eats. Even cooler than the rib-like ceiling and red chandeliers is the (virtually) guilt-free combo of BBQ that’s local, sustainable and made with care.
568 Sacramento, SF

Sakoon debuts upscale Indian restaurant in Mountain View this week
It’s a drive down from the city to be sure, but with few upscale Indian dining options in SF, it’s nice to know brand new Sakoon (meaning peace), is not too far away. In a large, 6000-square foot former bank, there’s a mezzanine, fiber-optic chandeliers, Buddha in hand-carved wooden panels, and, yes, a waterfall rushing into pool dotted with lotus petals. Exec Chef, Sachin Chopra, formerly of Palo Alto’s Mantra, put together a menu of Indian food with contemporary touches well beyond the defined Northern or Southern Indian cuisine categories, with most entrees priced under $20, like Malabari Seabass, pan-seared with aloo tikki, pindi chole, and tamarind essence. The flavors of Kashmir show up in Gushtaba, lamb koftas in roasted onion and yogurt sauce. A five-course Farmer’s Market Tasting Menu (vegetarian: $35; non: $40) provides further taste opportunities, lunch buffets are offered daily, and a Sunday through Thursday happy hour (5-7pm) means $5 cocktails and cheap bar bites. General manager and sommelier, Nirupama Srivastava, lovingly features predominantly women wine-makers on her wine list, and cocktails ($8-10) like the Monsoon Wedding (Bacardi coconut rum, Hypnotiq liqueur, pineapple juice, lime). When you want Indian beyond your favorite Tenderloin curry house…
Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm
Sat-Sun 12-3pm
Sun-Thu 5-10pm
Fri-Sat 5-10:30pm
357 Castro Street, Mountain View