Call me a “commie” but I will be the first to admit that I am not a fan of baseball. And, despite my personal feelings regarding the Giants” so-called “territorial rights”, the new Public House has given me a reason to, at the very least, visit AT&T Park.
Located on the corner of 3rd street and Willie Mays Plaza, Public house is one of two new restaurants opening up at AT&T Park by James Beard award-winning chef Traci Des Jardins. The other is a secondary location of Mijita, Des Jardins’already successful taqueria.
Public house and Mijita will have their official Grand Opening on April 9, 2010 to coincide with the SF Giants home opener. I was fortunate enough to have been invited to their Media Night and I came away impressed. To be completely frank, I almost canceled out on this event. Driving up to San Francisco in the middle of rain-slowed rush hour traffic is not my idea of a good time, especially when it’s for a “sports bar”. Because at it’s core, Public House is a sports bar. If the ubiquitous plasma TVs weren’t a dead giveaway, I don’t know what is.
Despite this, Public House doesn’t feel like a sports bar. At least it didn’t last night. The first thing you will notice upon entering Public House is the huge wall of kegs that make up the back wall of their craft beer bar. Basic interior design states that a room must have a focal point and this fits the bill. The exposed brick walls, ventilation and plumbing pipes add to the industrial tone set by the giant wall of kegs. Despite this, you don’t feel like you’re in a warehouse because of the richly colored wooden bar furniture and bright, earthy-yellow colored walls. The floor to ceiling windows let in what little overcast afternoon light there was. I can only imagine how much brighter Public House will be once summer rolls around.
Directly adjacent to the Public House is Mijita taqueria. The two restaurants are basically in the same space but the use of bright, earthen yellow and orange, coupled with Dia de los Muertos-type of art, give Mijita a different feel than Public House.
Mijita’s menu skews towards simplicity focusing mainly on tacos (pescado, carnitas, asada to name a few), antojitos and even “not so authentico” nachos and jalapeño poppers. In addition, Mijita has an expansive tequila list featuring (at the time of this blog post) 46 bottles divided into blanco, reposado, añejo and exta añejo distinctions.
Of course the real reason we’re at Public House is for the beer. Eric Cripe, beer specialist for The Jug Shop, was tapped by the Public House to set up their selection of beers. A certified Ciceron, Cripe was pleasantly surprised to find Public House supportive of his suggestions. The result is a beer selection that sports 24 taps, 2 of which are casks, with just as many bottles. The plan, according to Cripe, is to have the taps at the main bar constantly in rotation to provide a constant variety throughout the year. At the time of this post these were the beers on tap:
- Trumer PIls
- North Coast Old Rasputin
- Ommegan Belgian Pale Ale
- Lost Abbey Judgement Day
- Valley Brewing London Tavern English Mild
- Port Midnight Sessions Lager
- Marin Brewing Tiburon Blonde
- Moylans Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale
- Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale
- Lost Abbey Devotion
- Deschutes Black Butte Porter
- Anchor Liberty Ale
- Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA
- Allagash White
- Stone Sublimely Self Righteous Ale
- Anchor Steam
- Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA
- Firestone Walker Pale 31
- Sierra Nevada Cristalweiss
- Guinness Draught
- Stella Artois
- Bud Light (It is a sports bar located in a baseball stadium, after all)
- Magnolia Brewery Blue Bell Bitter
- Firestone Walker Unfiltered Double Barrel Ale
Bottles at the time of this post include
- Chimay White
- La Trappe Isid’or
- Rochefort 10
- Westmalle Trippel
- Achel 8 Bruin
- Witap Pater Single
- Saison Dupont
- Rodenbach Grand Cru
- Kasteel Gueze Fond
- Hopf Helle Weiss
- Schonramer Gold
- Pinkus Pilsner
- Ruetberger Dunkel
- Weinstephaner Korbinian
- Geog Schneider Edel-Weiss
- Zatec Pils
- Fuller’s ESB 1845
- Sam Smiths Nut Brown Ale
- Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
- Miller High Life
- Amstel Light, and
- 21st Amendment Watermellon Wheat (can)
In addition to setting up the craft beer list at Public House, Cripe was responsible for training the staff. According to Cripe, the Public House staff was hungry for information. Beer literacy is not something you see from your typical sports bar staff and it’s refreshing to hear about a staff that cares about the product they’re selling.
The best thing about this beer selection? It was all on the house. Yep. Free. In fact, I believe all the liquor was free which extended out to the tequila bar at Mijita. A special just for Media Night. Despite the overwhelming urge to indulge to excess on free booze, Mrs. BetterBeerBlog and I enjoyed our craft beers responsibly as we had to drive back to San Jose after the event.
As par for the course, the menu featured tried and true pub fare. The catch though was a higher-end spin on the food. The grilled cheese sandwich, for example, uses Gruyere while the dogs and sausages were sourced from local vendors such as the Fatted Calf and 4505 Meats. There were a few hors d’oeuvres being passed around during the event but I really didn’t partake because of all the good conversation being had. And if you’re into it, Public House has an extensive wine list as well.
By the time Mrs. BetterBeerBlog and I left, it was nearly 9:30pm, way past the event end time of 7:30pm. Despite unintentionally overstaying our welcome, the staff at Public House were nothing short of fantastic. The bar staff were attentive and the hostesses friendly and accommodating. Even when were were getting kicked out, it was in the most polite way possible.
It is still too early in the game to label Public House a success. After all, they’ve yet to open to the public and serving hors d’oeuvres is a far cry from a full dinner service. Regardless of any “opening day” issues that may occur, the future of Public House looks bright and I am looking forward to coming back in the future.
Special thanks to Jeff McC for extending the invitation, I appreciate it!