Thursday, April 27, 2006

Park Chalet

After what has been an altogether too-long-and-rainy winter, we had another beautiful day in San Francisco yesterday. And what better way to celebrate the sunshine and the afternoon than cocktails at the beach? I toodled through the park on my little city bike with flowers in the basket (okay, no flowers in the basket since last week, but it makes for a nice image) to meet Valentino at the not-so-Dutch windmill on JFK and the Great Highway. I was in a great mood because I'd just had a productive meeting to procure more writing work (and it had been a lucrative lunch shift at The Restaurant, although I made a couple of mistakes and the eagle-eyed GM noticed, which is Not A Good Thing), and Valentino was in a great mood because he'd just finished working at the preschool. He grew up in the Sunset, his mom now runs the preschool that he attended, and he and his brother both work there. Now that's community.

After a few minutes of contentedly watching the ocean, we rode over to the Park Chalet to enjoy the sunshine and toast each other's happiness. We started off with a couple of Hangar One keffir lime-based drinks; his was a ginger pomegranite thing and mine was basically a mojito with Chambord. They were both pretty sweet but we had restaurant gossip to catch up on and the grass was nice. The great thing about the Park Chalet is that it literally backs up right against Golden Gate Park. There are little pathways and gardens that lead you right into the center of the park, and if you go upstairs to the Beach Chalet, there are wonderful views of the ocean. Perfect at sunset time.

But it was still afternoon and we'd heard that the food was better at the Park Chalet. We had a chopped salad and the ahi tuna tartare, both good but nothing really to write home about. Our second round of cocktails was a green-tea martini (with Chambord again) and a blood-orange Herradura margarita with Cointreau (delicious!), and we decided that the Park Chalet was a better place to drink beer. They have many different kinds there which they brew on-site, and which cost a third of the good (but overly sweet) cocktails.

Our next course was middle-eastern-style beef skewers, rare. Great quality meat, and rare atually meant rare. They were served over a chopped salad of yogurt sauce, cucumber, and tomato, with some crunchy squares of toasted tomato bread (more like crutons) that didn't work with the dish. It was great besides that. We also had a side order of beer bread, which was basically a thick, white bread flecked with brown; warm, and served with butter. The big winner was the wild mushroom, goat cheese, and garlic pizza. Ultra thin crust, loads of toppings, and whole cloves of roasted garlic. We'd thought about heading down to see our friend and fellow co-worker who also works at Kuleto's on Union Square, but after that pizza decided it would be for the best if we kept our breath to ourselves. A glass of Australian Shiraz (a little raw) and a Rosenblum red-blend (quite good) accompanied, and we got out of there for $100 (including a 25% tip. Hey, we're restaurant people!).

One of the nicest things about this place (besides the pizza), was how neighborhood-y it felt. There were little kids and dogs running around making friends, tourists, and locals alike. It had the feel of a mellow German biergarten, with its mixed-age and demographic afternoon set. The service was very friendly and genuine.

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