The food blogger's dilemma: You're starving and you have the most beautiful sandwich in front of you. Do you take the time to snap a picture before taking a bite? Or do you dare ruin a pretty picture because, well, you're famished?
In today's case, I succumbed to the latter—tangy goat cheese and the sweet and soft "confit" of whole ciopollini onions squishing out of the sides of the crusty, toasty focaccia, as I scarfed down the first half, licking my fingers and marveling at what a perfect sandwich Naked Lunch, the beloved North Beach sandwich stand, had just made me. Stuffed with tons of argula and a few almonds to boot, it made vegetarianism seem like an option. So excuse the somewhat sad excuse for a photo. It was in the name of good eating.
This is not to say that I've been turned. Last night, I stopped by St. Vincent (1270 Valencia St. at 24th St.) to drink good wine and beer. The restaurant was full of industry folks. There was Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani of Ame in one corner, and Vinny Eng, the bubbly general manager from Bar Tartine in another.
Opened by famed Italophile somm David Lynch, St. Vincent is loosely calling itself a tavern. I'd describe it as a restaurant serving refined comfort food of the Northern California order. Yet it definitely begs the question: Which comes first the food or the drink? In this case, the drinking is the reason for the pilgramage, but the food is plenty good to keep you there. We had a deliciously doughy and warm pretzel with mustard, a drop-dead gorgeous salad of greens from Little City Gardens, a great ramp soup, and some nice mains such as trout with potatoes. There was also a very non-vegetarian dish of pork belly involved.
My favorite two discoveries in the drinking category? At St. Vincent, you can order half bottles of any wine (and I don't mean splits). And better yet, Lynch serves 8-ounce glasses of beer, which, as someone who's not the biggest beer drinker, I really appreciate. I have no interest in chugging a pint of anything, so anything larger than a glass eventually warms in my hands, and loses its luster. Eight ounces is just so proper, and allows the beer to shine. You can even get into something super hoppy and bitter, knowing you're not in it for the long haul. And then there's the fact that you you can always order more.