Thanks for reading my first column for Bay Area Bites! I’m so thrilled to write for KQED on a weekly basis. I have been writing the tablehopper column since 2006, covering the SF Bay Area dining and bar scene, in addition to hosting events and special dinners, and doing a great deal of freelance writing (you can read more about my food writing background on tablehopper). Food and beverage lovers will want to subscribe at tablehopper.com, and the @tablehopper social media accounts feature the latest openings and where to eat! See you back here for more Table Talk on Mondays.
842 Valencia St., San Francisco
Been missing Mad Men? The swanky sets? Well, no skinny tie is needed to soak up some 60s vibes at the soon-to-open Mission bar, The Beehive. This mid-century salute of a bar is opening in the former Range, with original chef-owner Phil West partnering with Arnold Eric Wong and Steve Werney on the project. Pull on up to the front bar’s 13 seats, and there’s room for another 10 at a ledge. Walk past the retro mirrored wall—and a little curtained niche, the Honeycomb Hideout (with room for four)—into the far back, and the former dining room is now a loungey and low-slung space, with its own bar and room for 50 (meet your next private party dream pad). There are some quality touches, like a custom walnut ceiling and the chic cocktail tables, plus a Caesarstone quartz bar with a red leather bumper.
As for the cocktail menu, you’re going to enjoy balanced yet playful cocktails from lead bartender Emilio Salehi and Carlos Yturria that come in some charming vintage glassware, with some pretty spiffy garnish too. Something retro (and pretty wrong) like Tang gets an amazing update with the Gemini, made into a Tang-based slushy spiked with vodka and manzanilla sherry, and it’s what you’re going to want on the next heat wave. The Fickle Fox is a wonderful nightcap—with the right amount of aperitif that becomes digestif with cognac, Cappelletti, Gran Classico bitter, and Cocchi di Torino. There are also highballs, beer, cider, and wines by the glass.
The team (which includes executive chef Byron Gee, formerly at The Rotunda at Neiman Marcus) definitely had fun with the food menu, making it into a 1960s cocktail party, from deviled eggs and rock shrimp–stuffed egg foo young fritters to Mission shrimp cocktail (gotta honor the neighborhood) and Swedish meatballs. A main highlight is the fondue section, with your choice of aged cheddar; piquillo pepper and mezcal; or kaltbach cave-aged cheese and saison; all served with potatoes, broccoli, and bread ($24 for small and $40 for large; add crudité vegetables, beef filet, or sausage too). Pineapple upside down cake for dessert, fun. Don Draper would approve of the well-designed menu, complete with vintage ads.