A visit to Rare Device was at the top of my list – on par with Shane’s trip to Treats – so we headed there after our lunch at Monk’s Kettle. I’ve been internet friends with Rena, one of the owners, since sometime in the early aughts, back when I was a bored customer service wage slave and spent a great deal of time reading fun blogs from internet strangers. (Hmm, sounds familiar.) Anyway, it was wonderful to finally meet Rena and to see the cute SF store – I’d been to the late Brooklyn location, but had missed her on that trip.
Rena asked if we’d been over to Hayes Valley yet – we hadn’t, and were immediately convinced to make it our next stop by her mention of Miette, a sweet candy store a short walk away.
Photo by tastingsf
After careful scrutiny, I came away with a wee bag of salty Dutch licorice and an Idaho Spud, one of the candy bars discussed in Candy Freak, which I recently read and enjoyed. The licorice was fantastic, with a much broader range of flavors and salts than I expected. The Idaho Spud was kind of like a Mounds bar, except with a weird agar-agar texture. Not unpleasant, just odd.
While I was in candy heaven, Shane sought out a bathroom and caffeine at Boulange de Hayes. I found him with an espresso and a few wee macarons – the next big thing in the dessert world, but still a bit of a novelty for us. We both liked the size and crunch of the cookies – we tried coffee, pistachio, and one other that I can’t recall.
I feel I would be remiss in talking about our wanderings in Hayes Valley if I didn’t mention two important things. First, we bought matching backpacks at Timbuk2. $40 each, really sturdy, a great deal! Second, I met an awesome corgi named Zoe while Shane looked at glasses. Zoe was just hung around letting me scratch her ears until someone mentioned cookies, at which point she started doing hilarious pirouettes. You earned that cookie, Zoe.
We had some time to kill before our dinner reservation, so we after an in-depth map consultation, we headed towards City Beer Store. It was a fair walk in blustery weather with our new backpacks strapped on, so we were happy to take a load off with a great beer.
City Beer Store is tucked away off the beaten path – the sort of place you’d never spot unless you were looking for it – which makes it ideal for a quick drink after work or before an evening engagement. We dug in the cooler – with some help from the bartender – to find another Summer Solstice for me, while Shane debated whether or not to buy a 2 day old bottle of Pliny (he didn’t). We could’ve comfortably hung out and drank for an hour or more, but seafood awaited us!
Photo by magerleagues
Anchor & Hope came highly recommended from Bon Appetit, among others, so we decided that it would be a perfect splurge for our last night in town. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the possibly the most disappointing dining experience we had on our trip.
We were seated right away, and after some time with the menu, our server took our order, suggested wine pairings – and then went home sick. Time passed, and no server or wine. Another server arrived with our entrees: seafood risotto for me, and a seared ahi tuna for Shane. No wine.
As I’ve mentioned, I’m a tentative seafood eater. I can do most shellfish, and am working my way up through meaty white fish. I had carefully checked the menu before ordering, and so was surprised to have four sizeable chunks of salmon in my risotto. Salmon! My food kryptonite! I ate one piece, then ate around the rest as it quickly went cold – not how you want to be eating when you’re paying $25+ per plate. Shane enjoyed his tuna, but liked the accompanying sausage and beans even more. Our wine finally arrived, but only after we’d flagged down another server. Honestly, the highlight of the meal for us was the Blue Bottle milkshake and wee maple macaron that we split for dinner, both of which were sweet and delicious without making us feel guilty about the indulgence.
I’ve subsequently been told that Anchor & Hope can be hit or miss – and I received a very apologetic email in response to my complaint – but I still can’t shake the disappointment of that last special meal.
If you go:
1845 Market St (between Laguna & Guerrero)
San Francisco, CA 94103
Sweet housewares shop and design-y gallery spot on Market.
Boulange de Hayes
500 Hayes St (Hayes & Octavia St)
San Francisco, CA 94102
Busier than the Noe Valley location, but excellent macarons!
449 Octavia St (between Linden & Hayes)
San Francisco, CA 94101
Magical candy store with big jars of all manner of sweets. Don’t even think about your dental bills.
506 Hayes St (near Hayes & Octavia St)
San Francisco, CA 94102
Timbuk2′s first retail location, full of fun bags and lots of heavy stuff with which to test the bags.
City Beer Store
1168 Folsom St (between Hallam & Langton)
San Francisco, CA 94103-6028
Tiny beer counter tucked away on a busy, somewhat industrial-looking street. Great selection – a few beers on tap, and they’re happy to open anything you buy from the case or the shelves.
Anchor & Hope
83 Minna St (between Shaw Alley & 2nd)
San Francisco, CA 94105
Highly rated seafood spot downtown, but our experience was meh. Probably not worth your money, though the lobster rolls looked pretty epic