Friday, July 31, 2015


Several years ago, I went to Bluebird, a gastropub located run by the folks behind Webster's Wine Bar which was located next to Mindy's Hot Chocolate.  I remember that while I liked the space, it was narrow with brick walls on both sides with a few abstract paintings, a long bar on one side, and unfinished ceilings, and the beer list was very good, I was really unimpressed with the food and didn't see a point to making a return.  Last year, Webster's downsized and closed several of their venues including Bluebird.  The space was bought and reopened as Presidio, a California-focused gastrolounge featuring fresh seasonal cuisine and classic cocktails.  The description intrigued me and since it was no longer Bluebird, I decided to check it out.  The geometry of the space was not going to change, so it is still narrow and deep.  Many of the design elements remain the same as well, it still has a lot of raw brick walls and an unfinished ceiling, but shelves for the liquor were improved.  They are wood and display the bottles well.  At the time that I came, it was relatively early and the front window was open, letting in a lot of natural light.  I sat at the bar, and enjoyed a nice conversation with the bartender.  I started things off with a gin-based cocktail as is my wont.  It was called a Flash in the Pan, and with the gin, it also contained Grapefruit, Lime, Tart Cherry, Black Pepper, and Mint.  This was really surprising.  It was very tart from the lime and tart cherry juice and the grapefruit brought the bitter which brought out the flavor of the gin.  What was surprising was the spice of the pepper and how well it paired with the cherry and the lime.  The mint was presented as a garnish and it was a good finish to the drink.
For my first food course, I ordered the Polenta which was baked crispy on the outside with a very fluffy center.  It was served with a Wild Mushroom Ragout, Fresh Oregano, and Ricotta Salata, a type of ricotta cheese that has been pressed and aged and is frequently used in salads.  While the polenta was good, what made this dish was the mushrooms.  The oregano and the ricotta brought a freshness of flavor, but the mushrooms brought a bold earthy flavor and a chewy textural contrast to the polenta.
Looking at the main courses, I was a little unimpressed because all of the choices looked pretty mainstream.  The thing about that though is that mainstream can be some of the most difficult food to prepare and to stand out above the crowd, it has to be really good.  I ordered Twin Bone-In Berkshire Pork Chops with Peaches, Tarragon, Baby Kale, and Smoked Balsamic.  I am generally not a huge fan of peaches, I find them too sweet, but they paired well with the pork chops, bringing out their sweetness and were toned down by the tarragon.  The kale was crisp and prepared well, but felt like kind of an afterthought.  The smoked balsamic though, did help to bring things together.  Overall, they were some good pork chops and and it was constructed in a way that tied the accompaniments together.
For dessert, I went with the Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with Pretzel, Magic Shell, and Housemade Vanilla Ice Cream.  This dish just screamed comfort food and did it extremely well.  The cake was moist and chocolaty with a nice hazelnut flavor.  The ice cream was soft and creamy with an excellent vanilla flavor and the Magic Shell, which brings back many memories of childhood, topped it off.  The pretzels were crushed and acted as a garnish with hot fudge and caramel.  The pretzels added a salty element to a largely sweet dish and was a great finish to a good meal.

I really enjoyed my dinner here.  I liked the space in it's previous incarnation, but the food here was very good and the staff were very friendly and willing to answer questions.  It will definitely be on my list of places to go when I am in the area.  

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