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Restaurants & Bars

Monday night at the Ferry Building

Windy | Feb 22, 200512:13 PM

I stopped by Hog Island with a couple of friends for happy hour last night and nearly closed the place. Because of the holiday, there was a huge line. Undeterred, we devoured 4 or 5 dozen oysters, a wonderful arugula salad, and the famous most expensive grilled cheese in town.

We drank a fair amount of wine: the muscadet and marsannay rosé by the glass were a good match for the oysters. A bottle of pinot blanc from Alcase was even better. The surprise for me was how wonderful the oysters in beurre blanc were; we drank up every bit of the sauce and capers.

I wasn't dazzled by the grilled cheese. The cheese is fine, but the bread is too thick. I ended up scraping it off and just eating the cheese. (Tartine's grilled cheese is cheaper and better, plus they have options like ham to liven it up.) And for all of you who can't get enough of Hog Island's mignonette, I still prefer their cocktail sauce.

Appetites whetted we headed over to Slanted Door for dessert and shared a delicious hot brownie sundae (with tiny crunchy things--toffee bits?--and mini marshmallows) and a mediocre pear tart with what was supposed to be caramel ice cream. We drank a house brandy, a tawny port, a glass of Riesling, and some excellent Sauternes before deciding we were still hungry. We got an order of spring rolls (very good; the spicy peanut sauce being the highlight) and something they called green papaya salad, with bits of fried tofu, that made me wish I'd prevailed on the grapefruit and pecan salad. The Gruner Veltliner offered by the glass was unimpressive.

Bill for all of this was way too much, but it was great fun. Service everywhere was friendly, and we met a lot of tourists who seemed happy to be out of the rain, enjoying the bay area's finest. The sky had cleared to a nearly full moon by the time we went home.

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