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It was the dog. Standing there tied to the railing while his mistress and a trendy crowd packed the outside deck.

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You know how you have some areas around town you just never see, even though you’re buzzing all around on a daily basis? Guess this is one lost whirlpool like that, at Beech and Kettner.

It’s a strange thing, coming round the corner, discovering Craft and Commerce (675 West Beech Street). It feels like, well, walking up the beach from the border, total isolation, that river, Border Patrol buzzing over every now and then, people you don’t ask questions to, then suddenly, houses! Dogs catching Frisbees! Suburbia! Guys tearing down the beach with boards. That’s how it is here. Silent streets up from Pacific Highway, empty officeland, then, the golden dog! Patio! Buzz!

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The world of, I guess, gastropub cool.

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So I go in, feeling like some kid who suddenly finds that he’s the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, or like a bull trotting alone through a tunnel, and coming out in a bullring, and he’s it and a thousand people are roaring at him and the guy who’s going to kill him is walking over…

Okay. Let’s not get over the top here. But off the lonely streets you’re suddenly in this buzz-filled space of Craft and Commerce, the gastropub with towering bookshelves and stuffed mountain lion heads...

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...and wall-sized blackboards chalk-written with Somebody Else’s Deep Thoughts. Locovore, less-is-more thoughts: “Demand Less,” “Beware lest you Lose the Substance by Grasping at the Shadow.” But still cooking to this crowd who - judging by what they're eating - crave permission to eat comfort food from the days when it was Okay to Eat Burgers.

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That’s when I bump into Chris and Nic. Navy helo pilots from North Island. Fly MH60 Seahawks. Guess I look lost. “Come over and have a drink,” says Nic. Click. I'm inside the bubble. Amazing how quickly this turns into a warm, friendly, and yeah, thoughtful place.

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Chris and Nic

Guess I’m the only person in the world who’s never heard of Craft and Commerce.

Now I see Naomi reviewed it back in November. Great review, even though she didn’t give them a great review. She had a few salty issues with the food, but said they could be on the verge of gastro-greatness. That was November. Nine months ago.

Not sure if I'm up to knowing if they've found their groove. Plus, it’s gastropub prices. But I’d still love to try their roasted bone marrow ($14, $21 with bone) on a good payday.

Guess from gramma’s days, that’s comfort food I’d forgotten I craved.

So, gonna try anyway. Come back sometime.

Bring Carla, so I don’t feel like that bull again.

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