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SF: What fun! Happy hour and breakfast … Margarita, small plate and dessert at Orson for $15

rworange | May 28, 2008 09:55 PM

One thing that isn’t noted anywhere … not on their website or business card … from 8am to 4pm during the week there is a kiosk inside Orson that sells coffee drinks and Citizen Cake pastries (scones, cupcakes, etc)

Happy Hour is Monday – Friday (5pm-7pm) Classic cocktails $5

What I had for happy hour

$5 - lengua croquette, cherry, sea bean, tarragon
$5 - margarita with salt, cabrito blanco tequila, lime, agave nectar
$5 - 50/50 shot mauve flower soda, frankincense ice cream, veloce granite

Not only was that one nice margarita, it was generous, about the size of a large tumbler.

The lengua was flat-out excellent … excellent.

A tender piece of tongue expertly breaded It was listed under the category ‘tease’, so I was expecting something tiny, but it was almost the size of my palm. It was on some sort of green leaves … or a type of tarragon I’m not familiar with. Halved Rainer cherries were scattered around the plate and there were some other small, dark cooked cherries topping the lengua and a light vinegary dressing ... or it could just be the liquid from the cherries ... they might have been dried and then cooked.

The only reason I ordered this was for the sea bean which I had read about a while back on Chowhound.

They were sort of like long fir needles in looks and crunchy. They weren’t salty though, which I expected. A link in that topic says of sea beans "Western Canadians and Alaskans usually call it sea grass or sea asparagus" and reading that the asparagus seems a good description ... like needle-thin asparagus.

The dessert was like a small fizzy ice cream soda. It was pleasant, about five sips and while no flavors popped out … well worth my five bucks just to say I tried mauve flower, frankincense and veloce (which I’m still haven’t googled to find out exactly what that is)

I asked as server what dessert would be the best to try next time and she suggested the "sundae always comes too late" chocolate croquette, banana mousse, pecans

There's also some sort of chocolate pizza that the bartender was a good compromise if you couldn't decide on something to eat or dessert. There is supposedly a smoky flavor to it from the espelette.

Other things I’ve tried so far at Orson …

touch of evil - bourbon, mint, lemon juice, absinthe, rhubarb syrup
rhubarb rickey - strawberry rhubarb syrup, lime, soda ... PG-13 (non alcoholic)
sausage, asparagus, fennel, pecorino pizza

The touch of evil is my new cosmo A pretty pink drink with two fresh mint leaves floating on top that the bartender … uh, slapped … to bring out the oils … and there was that lovely aroma of fresh mint with every sip.

Orson also has the whole absinthe set up if anyone is interested in that alone. They use Hangar One absinthe.

The rhubarb rickey was sort of like the touch of evil without the booze and mint … and fizzy ... and very nice.

I liked the pizza, the size of a large dinner plate and more than enough for a meal for one. I took a few slices home actually. This is a super thin pizza with nice browned spots on the crust and lightly topped with shaved ingredients. It is so thin that when I had my slices at home the olive oil had seeped into the crust and it was translucent in spots. Yet it still was crispy/chewy and was even good cold.

To make things even better, I got a full-sized complementary Citizen cupcake in a cellophane bag, tied with a pink ribbon.

They have lots of interesting beverages not listed on the menu. They don’t even list the absinthe. I asked about it since it was in my drink.

From Austria there are reisetbauer eau-de-vies … specialty, small batch fruit spirits … rowanberry, plum, wild cherry, himbeer, apricot, pear William.

There are about 30 liquors that include things like veev acai berry liquer, del maguey crema de mescal and velvet falernum.

I like everything about Orson ... the room, service, vibe and food. It was larger, airier and more comfortable than I expected. The servings were more generous. The service was efficient and helpful without being intrusive.

One server said they had plans for lots of special wine dinners and events like this recent Bourbon and Bacon dinner that Windy reported

No empty promise here … I will definitely be back to Orson and it will be one of the places I take out-of-towners in addition to Zuni.

Orson Restaurant
508 4th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

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