I have been back home in San Francisco for a week, getting ready to go to Korea tomorrow, and have been trying to cram into one week all the things I’ve been meaning to go do and see in San Francisco for the last 20 years. I’m not sure I made it, but I had some fun trying. A lot of it was cocktail related.
I finally made it to the Tonga Room, at the Fairmont. It’s a tiki wonderland! You don’t go for the food, trust me. You go for the faux rainstorms and lightening over the lagoon in the middle of the dining room, the swashbuckling decor, and the southern fried Don Ho house band that cranks out 80s tunes on a moving barge in the pool festooned with tiki thatch. The house cocktail is a Mai Tai, served in a coconut with an umbrella, so I had to have…three. It’s a bit of San Franciscana that has to be experienced at least once, kind of like Beach Blanket Babylon.
But, I think, the award this week has to go to Straw, on Octavia. Carnival themed fare! Not Carnivale, like in Rio, but carnival, as in carnies and side shows. There’s even a Tilt-a-Whirl car made into a table in the corner, for lovebirds who don’t mind canoodling while consuming their corndogs.
Oh yes, there are corndogs. Mini corndogs, in fact, served on a Wooly Willy plate, with a trio of dipping sauces. Nothing poncey, mind you, it’s liquid nacho cheese, ranch, or mayo and sriracha (which I think is the most genius dipping sauce since Ranch dressing made its debut).
They also serve their burger, The Ringmaster, on a house-made donut bun, which is just…cheeky.
Their cocktails were carnival themed, as well, which was all kinds of fun. Fernando had a Coney Island lager, that had a scary clown face on the label, but my drink took the funnel cake. It was a cotton candy cocktail — check it out!
How much fun is that? It’s made with sparkling something and house made cotton candy, so the flavor and color is different depending on the day. The day I was there, the finished product looked like carbonated Windex, but it was pretty tasty, and went straight to my head, like a good cocktail should.
I really loved their dessert menus. Not for what the offerings were, oddly enough, although they were fine, and included funnel cakes, of course. But because they were little slam journals, served with crayons, that guests are encouraged to doodle in.
Out of all of the technicolor unicorns, and crayon sketches of various girlfriend’s faces, for some reason, this entry cracked us up. Poor boring John. But, you know me, a challenge is a challenge…. Did I call poor boring John? After that cotton candy cocktail hit my bloodstream, you bet I did.
And it was boring, because he never even answered the phone. But, you have the number now, you could try….