Last night I went to Bix, a jazz themed restaurant tucked away in an alley in North Beach. Posters of Josephine Baker, chalkboard sketches of Charlie Parker and Billie Holiday (that require a flash photograph to reveal their images, gimmicky but also pretty cool), and a bunch of artwork by a guy who did lots of his work in 1940's America (Heinrich something?) Apparently he is a huge influence on many folks, including Marilyn Manson. Bix is a comfortable, cozy yet expansive restaurant, with a handsome bar, baby grand piano, a dozen or so 4-tops on the first level, and another eight or so tables upstairs on a mezzanine level, which was where we sat. We were told by one of the waiters that Sharon Stone is a regular, amongst some other famous San Franciscans. The food was for the most part solid, especially considering the fact that this seemed to be more of a late night and less a fine-dining destination. The fried Bix chicken hash, which the four of us split as an ap, was delicious, as was the tender, flavorful American kobe beef. Maine lobster spaghetti was not as tasty, it was in a simple, overly sweet cream based sauce that wasn't doing it for me. Otherwise, like I said earlier, surprisingly tasty food.
Our (my brother and I) hosts, Harry and Joanie, are ideal dining companions. From hearing tales of hanging out with their son and requesting 'the best stuff they got' in Amsterdam coffee shops, to learning about the advantages of having a regular driver in New York City, to getting a sense of Billy Crystal's routine at Harry's recent ADA conference, there were many great stories told. Harry (aka Harry Lee, aka Henri) and Joanie are without a doubt some of my parents' most hip and fun loving friends - thanks again for a great evening you guys!
As far as wine, I really enjoyed the glass of 2005 Storybook Mountain Zinfandel I ordered at the Four Seasons hotel bar. Dark, brambly, spicy fruit with real grip and length on the palate. Very muscular and well-structured, this is always one of the best CA zins out there. Back to Bix, I started off with a glass of Nino Franco Prosecco, which was was tasty, nothing special, but perfectly pleasant. Theirs strikes me as being one of the more austere Proseccos around, with a pleasant bitter snap to the finish. Dinner presented a challenge as my brother and I were doing the surf and turf thing, Harry ordered lamb chops and Joanie the arctic char. So we got some Bollinger which did the trick. A little disappointing that Bix has not jumped on the grower champagne band wagon, but Bollinger did not disappoint. Great firmness and PN fruit, also austere. Not terribly complex, but consistently one of my favorite medium-large houses for good 'ol NV brut.
Stay tuned for a very exciting Loire Valley show-down in my next post!