Bar reviews

Notes on a few new bars we hit this weekend.

Wilde Oscar’s

1900 Folsom Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Saturday night we were running late for the Oddball Films event we were planning on going to so, as we sat in traffic waiting to get across the Bay Bridge, we called Thatchery to see if there was something else to do. He was going to a friend’s birthday party at a Irish pub in the Mission called Wilde Oscar’s, so we met him and Dave B. there.

The bar was filled with Oscar Wilde references: portraits, quotes, and, amusingly, a list of his books taking up a good part of one wall. The man himself, however, wouldn’t have been caught dead drinking here, I’m sure. In fact, he’s probably turning in his grave as I speak. The music was a terrible mix of funk, R&B, rock… I wasn’t able to pick out a pattern to it. We did hear one Pogues song but even the memory of that was ruined when Michael Jackson came on a few songs later. The drinks were awful as well. Our first round of whiskeys came in small rocks glasses full of ice but only 3/4 full of alcohol. For our second round Sarai wisely decided to go with a Guinness but I wanted to give them one more chance to pour a decent drink. I tried to get a different bartender but she ignored me and the first one came over and took my order. My second whiskey was not only not full but actually served in a smaller glass. I was sorely tempted to stiff her but politeness won out and I left her a dollar anyway. I don’t intend to go back to this one.

Bender’s

806 S Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94110

After the birthday festivities at Wilde Oscar’s ended, we decided to make for greener pastures and went a few blocks down to Benders, a regular hangout of Thatchery’s. This was more like it. Benders is a real dive, which I mean in the best way possible. It was large, had a fairly low hipster turnout, and the drinks were much better, my $6 actually got me a decent one here. There were a lot of people there, but thanks to its size managed to not feel too crowded. We were able to get a corner booth when we got there, and again after we got up to go into the smoking room for a while.

That smoking room should actually be called the “smoky room”, or better yet, the “smoky storage closet”. It reminded me of nothing so much as high school kids hanging out in an enclosed garage, drinking beer and filling the place with smoke. We got a bit of relief when a bar employee came in and opened the back door for a minute to take the trash out, but it quickly filled with smoke again once it was closed.

We’ll probably be back at Bender’s for House of Burlesque this Friday.

Amnesia

853 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

Sunday night we went out for “Belly Dance Sass and Wild Gypsy Brass” at Amnesia. The entertainment was great, one of the belly dancers in particular was absolutely amazing and Brass Menazeri, the Balkin Brass band that came on after the dancing rocked.

The bar was really nice and the event drew an interesting looking (and large) crowd. The only down side was the bar offerings, which the bartender told me was limited to beer, wine, vodka, and gin. No problem, I thought, and ordered us a couple vodka martinis. When we got them though we both thought they tasted a little strange and very weak, which I chalked up to being due to the fact that they only serve one vodka, some Korean one I had never heard of. Now, however, from what I’ve found on Amnesia’s web site and a few other places, I think it wasn’t vodka at all but a low alcohol content, vodka-like Korean liquor called soju. So they lose points for telling me I was getting vodka when I actually wasn’t, but the bar was nice enough that I’m willing to forgive it. I think I’ll stick to wine next time though.

Can you tell our social calendar has been entirely provided by Laughing Squid lately? We’re making an effort to get out more and the Squidlist has given us a wealth of information on upcoming events.