Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
Just what would make a bar "San Francisco," anyways?
Considering the outcome of this year's World Series, a visit to Bridges seemed fitting. The college-area bar and grill is a self-described tribute to San Francisco Bay, although it would be more accurate to say it’s dedicated to SF-area sports teams given the plethora of TVs inside. It’s hard to justify the claim that Bridges is particularly San Franciscan, it seemed to be a typical sports bar to me, but the clientele were all fired up over the 49ers game, so I guess that’s qualification enough.
During the football game, the TVs were cranked to full volume and the noise level in the bar was very high. It’s more that the architecture doesn’t do anything to lower the ambient decibels since there’s a general lack of sound baffling. The crowd itself was varied at dinner, with more older people than might be expected at a sports bar that “proudly serves #jagerbombs,” as Bridges’ Twitter claims.
Service leaned towards ineffective despite the relative abundance of staff. I’m not so naive as to assume that the employees at a place like Bridges are there to hone their craft, but the bare minimum for acceptable service wasn’t met.
Specialty cocktails were priced a bit below the norm at $8. They’re only $6 during happy hour (3-7 every day). The “Kentucky Buck,” which the menu asserts was created by Rickhouse bartender Erick Castro, was a curious mix of Buffalo Trace, lemon, ginger beer, mint, simple syrup, and strawberries. For six dollars, it was a good drink, although there were too many sweet elements and melted ice for the drink to stand up to good drinks from other local bars.
The 14 tap handles had been dedicated to craft brews and better-than-average sports bar beers, which was a pleasant surprise in the face of Bud Lite expectations.
Crab beignets ($10) didn’t involve pate a choux in any way, but did have plenty of crab and a delicate texture. The fritters had been fried hard on the outside, but as they gave way to delicately sweet crab that didn’t need the spicy remoulade and aioli, although the sauces didn’t hurt.
Without any proper entrees on the menu, Bridges sandwich and burger selection is almost overwhelming. There are plenty of intriguing options there; like a “Barbary Coast” burger topped with pastrami, grilled asparagus, and a fried egg; and others that are perfectly ho-hum--when will we be spared from chicken and pesto sandwiches?
A western burger had been topped with thick onion rings, not too spicy mango-habanero barbecue sauce, and cheese. Cooked commandingly well-done, the burger’s real advantage was in the “pretzel bun” that had a distinct sweetness and a gorgeous, crispy, glazed finish. The “Alaskan wrap” that had been filled with fried cod, vegetables, and a garlic aioli was presented in a novel manner. Someone had the bright idea to slice the sandwich into rounds and serve it like a sushi roll. While cute to look at, it was a pain in the neck to eat and not visually stunning enough to pay for the annoyance. Both sandwiches included terrible french fries that were so bad they didn’t deserve eating. Sub onion rings instead.
4800 Art Street