Went to see a (great) show at The Fillmore last night, stopped off at the bar at Winterland before the show and had a great experience.
Briefly, our friends wanted up to meet them at Harry's on Fillmore, but the meat market/drunk vibe was too weird, so we thought, lets check out Winterland, maybe its not too crowded.
Were welcomed by the hostess, seated right away (room for 6 no problem.) The wine list has lots of reasonable selections, the bar menu is excellent, imaginative and reasonably priced. My companions enjoyed their mixed drinks, and the rest of us enjoyed a nice, reasonably priced bottle of Prosecco. Wines by the glass were somewhat limited, with about 7 or 8 choices, but there were lots of choices by the bottle in the 25-35 dollar range.
We had the baby octopus salad, a large portion of baby octopus with chunks of lightly pickled japanese cucumber in a thin sweet and sour spanish style tomato based sauce, salt cured anchovies served over a layer of farmers cheese and tomato marmalade, chinese green beans, (could have been a little crisper but still good) a couple of arugula salads, short ribs over what I think was large pearl couscous and 6 oysters. It was all excellent and served quickly and with hospitality. The bill for the food, the bottle of Prosecco, 3 mixed drinks was 160 with a 25% tip. I highly recommend this place before going to the fillmore, or if you are in the neighborhood. Not pretentious at all, but a very nice big city vibe, in a relaxed way. The decor was nice, and everybody seemed to be having fun. It was also fun to watch the nicely dressed people coming for dinner in the restaurant.
I remember a while ago there was discussion about the NYT piece complaining about the Californication of all the restaurants in the bay area, insofar as they lacked imagination or were all Chez Panisse clones. The bar menu here with the exception of the arugula salad, was not Chez Panisse like in any way, except that it was excellent and imaginative and fresh tasting.