Saturday, January 15, 2011

Beers, Bacon, Bikes and Bao!

To celebrate Jamie's arrival, we met up with a few friends in the Haight to check out Magnolia Pub & Brewery. I came across it on Yelp after searching for beer-heavy places for happy hour. The reviews intrigued me and I was looking forward to sharing a new neighborhood adventure with Jamie. Ta da!

It was a 2-bus trip, but I thought it was worth it. We were dumped off right across from the bar and it looked pretty cozy from the outside. We walked in and it reminded me of an old diner/coffee shop more than a bar. It was standing room only, so we moseyed on over to the bar and waited for friends. I started with the Kalifornia Kolsch and Jamie got the Piper Pale Ale. Mine was kinda wee for some reason and our total came to $9. Enh, maybe no happy hour special??

I really liked my second beer - the Proving Ground IPA. They offered it as draught or cask and I went with draught mostly because I had no idea what cask was. Later on I found out that cask beers are a little warmer and are a little less carbonated. Interesting. Personally, I enjoy a chilly, bubbly beer.

We eventually decided to do dinner so we grabbed a table in the small dining area. To kick things off, we ordered some Devils on Horseback (goat cheese-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon).
DELISH. Perfectly crisp on the outside and the dates were massive. Just a note, they came 2 per order, but they are able to work with odd numbers.

Jamie and I split a 1/2 lb Prather Ranch burger with pepperjack cheese. It was beefy and paired perfectly with the Blue Bell Bitter (my favorite beer of the was like a Boddington's with just a little bit of a bite). We also split the Seafood Boudin Sausage (bay scallop, rock shrimp, nutmeg with dirty rice), which was pretty bland. I wasn't into the texture of it or the lack of flavor in the dirty rice. Meh.
Overall, I really liked Magnolia. Turns out they have a pretty sweet Tuesday happy hour deal...I'd definitely check it out. Totally worth the 2-bus trip!

We were up bright and early this morning and headed off to High Trails Cyclery to pick up Jamie's Christmirthday present. We had such a great experience while buying my bike so it seemed only natural to return for Jamie's.
He was determined to get the guy's version of mine, but after a couple test rides, he went with one just a step up from mine. Fancy.

We immediately headed off on our crosstown adventure that was supposed to take us approximately 6 flat-ish miles to lunch and then another 4 miles to Ocean Beach and along the Great Highway. Sometimes I have mapping fails. We all know this by now!

After biking downtown and through the Castro, we made our way through The Wiggle, a mile long zig-zag that is known for being fairly flat and biker-friendly. Perfect!
The Wiggle dumped us out at the eastern-most side of the Panhandle and we made our way through the quiet bike path and took a quick pause. Then we had to take a little detour to deal with a flat tire (thankfully we rocked the smart phones and found out The Freewheel Bike Shop was just a couple blocks away). A few minutes later we were back in action and on our way through Golden Gate Park.

Then we hit a random slew of hills as we were mere blocks from our destination - Shanghai Dumpling King. I could just taste the xiao long baos! SO HUNGRY! After huffing and puffing up a large hill, I just wanted to sit and enjoy a piping hot, savory, meaty soup dumpling. It just wasn't in the cards. The wait was much longer than we were willing to deal with so we biked a couple blocks over to Shanghai House. I've been here before and they have delicious xiao long bao, but I just had my heart set on trying SF's 'best shanghai dumplings'. Ah well, maybe next time.

In addition to these little nuggets of soupy goodness
we also ordered the Vegetarian Goose
It's an odd name for mushrooms wrapped in tofu skin, but I LOVE IT. I didn't love this one, though. I'm used to it being served chilled without sauces. This version was warm, fried crisp on the outside and with some sauce drizzled on it. It was good, but just not what I was looking for.

We also got the Green Onion Pancake
Standard order whenever we're at a Chinese restaurant, but not a favorite of mine. These were a little greasier than I'm used to and they just weren't that exciting.

And to close things out, we had some Pork and Vegetable Dumplings
They smelled very cabbage-y and just paled in comparison to the flavors going on in the soup dumplings. I'm pretty sure they were boiled and the skin was super thick. Yeaahh, not going to order these again. Honestly, I would have been content with two orders of soup dumplings. I love them that much. *drool*

Bellies full of food, we began our trek back to my neck of the woods. We basically back tracked with a few little detours (apparently we went down a few one way streets the first time around) and then we encountered some not so friendly hills. Eeeh.

When we got home, I mapped our little adventure and instead of the planned 10 mile ride with a bus ride back, it turns out we rode 15.3 miles. DANG!
That elevation profile is no joke either. Kinda crazy for someone that's only gone on 3 long-ish bike rides as an adult and someone who hasn't ridden in awhile!

I'm proud of our excursion and the fact that I actually rode in heavy traffic - a first for me - and survived! :) Woohoo! Perfect Saturday afternoon (perfect weather too at around 65 degrees!).


Jamie said...

the soup dumplings were delicious. my only wish is that they were soupier. there wasn't a lot of liquid in them.

Susan L. T. said...

Now that you and Jamie have bikes you should seriously consider joining me, Tai, and some friends to do this in July: We created a team and have a bunch of people on it already. It's supposed to be a blast!