Walter Mencken 9:21 p.m., Oct. 20
East Village: Dine and shine, glug and go
This was an East Village surprise.
I’d walked up Market to the trolley at Park and Market, where that ancient, sprawling long-stay hotel, The Palms, stands. It’s the place they say Wyatt Earp shacked up at in 1887, along with his third wife Josie (in the second floor corner rooms at Park and Island).
But across the road, I notice a new sign. “Infuzon Sushi Wine Lounge (550 Park Boulevard, by the Park and Market trolley stop, 619-794-2421).”
Sandwich board says “Sushi, wine, beer.”
That’s original, sushi and wine combo.
Now I remember a previous wine bar “Wine Cask?” here. Closed. Difficult location. East Village hadn’t caught up yet. Still isn’t totally cool.
So I go in, to this warm-feeling room that’s also industrial, and also feels a bit Egyptian with roll-backed white naugahyde chairs with black piping.
It’s about six in the evening. Two guys here. One is Brandon, the owner, the other is Arturo, Art, the chef.
“We’ve been open about three months,” says Brandon, “and we came because of the neighborhood. You’ve got everybody who works around here, and lives in East Village, and then you’ve got institutions like Jefferson Law School, the New School of Architecture, and Petco Park, all nearby."
And he has deals to suit poor students and low-paid lecturers, plus their well-to-do families when they’re visiting.
“My wines go from $5 to $300,” he says.
I go for a glass of the house cab-sauv, $5.
Foodwise, best deal I see is a California roll for $4.50.
...promises he can make it quick, which is good, because I’m trying to catch the 7:01bus. That’s 20 minutes from now.
I mean, they have beers, too, interesting ones, and a $5 white house-wine too. But Brandon gives me a taste of his cab-sauv, and it’s wow, floral, fruity, in a really good way. Maybe I have a sweet tooth, but it goes so great with the roll.
Because Art’s roll is packed with crab, avocado and cucumber.
Get talking with Philippe, who’s come in for a beer. He’s a doctor from France who practices nearby. “This is my coin, my corner cafe,” he says.
Philippe and Brandon
Man, I could make it mine, too. This is a find. Price, place, and that take-it-easy atmosphere...Just like Humphrey Bogart says to Claude Rains: “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
Oh Lord. Five minutes to seven.
“Gotta go,” I say. “Scuse me while I gulp and gag,”
“Dine and shine,” says Brandon.
“Glug and go,” I say.