You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Fortunately for Trick Dog, they’re still just a pup…and they already know all the tricks.
We touched down at SFO around 9:00 pm, excited, hungry and ready to hit the town. Hertz rental cars had other ideas. I found myself locked in a Seinfeldian conversation with the rep regarding the importance of taking and subsequently holding a reservation. I received a complimentary bottle of Hertz brand bottled water for my trouble and was told to wait. This minor setback gave everyone’s favorite snack sleuth, Logan Crumpton, a moment to find us a meal.
You’d think in a world-class city like San Francisco, the choices for late nights eats would be endless. The search was more difficult than you’d think. The clock ticked on as our options dwindled. This is the part where the men and women who make up The Bon Vivants, the creative group behind Trick Dog, showed us their first trick, staying open past 10:00 pm! In fact they laugh at the clock face as it ticks past midnight as this place is hopping ’til 2 am, every single day! After finally receiving our vehicle, we made a bee line for Florida and 20th.
In an otherwise sleepy neighborhood, one industrial frontage still had the lights on. No sign, no address, but the music was loud and it smelled of alcohol and red meat, this had to be it. The dining room had just closed, but the bar serves the full menu, so our trio quickly staked out a spot near the end. A group of three guys all over 6′-0″ always manages to clear a space. Libations were quickly supplied by the friendly bartenders as we got to work on the menu.
At this point in our relationship, Matt, Logan and I have developed a hive mind when it comes to eating, so we took turns rattling off the choices, each meeting with a resounding “yeah baybay!”. The Trick Dog, beef tartare, scotch egg and thrice cooked fries, manimal style, of course…done!
The trick of the Trick Dog is that’s it’s not a dog at all, it’s a dog shaped patty of chuck, brisket and sirloin doused in a tangy house sauce and slapped on a buttered and toasted bun. If that’s not drinking food I don’t know what is. The taste is immediately familiar and new all at once, the house sauce, some sort of creamy relish lights up the sumptuous beef with a sour pop.
Two of my favorite dishes landed simultaneously. The scotch egg played a third trick on us. Traditionally wrapped with sausage, here it’s replaced with brandade (a salt cod and olive oil emulsion), and sits proudly on a purple potato salad in a sea of romesco. The sea flavor of the crispy cod exterior is front and center and blends well with the soft-boiled egg. While the romesco and potato salad play off each other with spicy and soothing notes.
Now Logan and I both have had our share of post midnight tartare. I think I speak for both of us when I say that this was one of the best. While many dishes on the menu play fast and loose with geography, this tartare sits squarely in France, a perfect rendition. Smooth and creamy, savory and sour, every note you expect and hope for from a tartare were there. Slather a healthy spoonful on the accompanying garlic bread and you’ll tune out the incredible din for a few seconds while you bask in the sun-like glow of quail egg coated rare beef.
Of course the boys of The Root couldn’t pass up and opportunity at a little market research, to see how the west coast does fries. If double frying is good, triple frying has to be better right? It’s crisp upon crisp with this dish, and it has to be to handle the downright deluge of “manimal” sauce and cheese. Well seasoned and cut sturdy enough to handle the moist attack, these fries are perfect drinking companions. The salt mixed with the sweet and sour of the sauce is one of those addicting combinations that lures you back like a siren. The poor bowl was ravaged by three greedy hands grasping and groping for every last crumb.
So here we are just about 12:30 am, six drinks and four dishes down when the bartender asks, “how about dessert?”…”what have you got?” we reply, “how about a gin fizz panna cotta?”…”um, yes please”.
I should probably let Logan step in here as he was having something like a religious experience with this thing. I have to admit, I’ve never had a panna cotta quite like this. Made with Tanqueray, orange blossom and citrus pop rocks for the “fizz”. Chef Watson obviously knew what he was doing when he thought up such a refreshing dish to leave you floating after a meat filled, fried fiesta.
Amazing cocktails, killer pub food, cool atmosphere and late hours, Trick Dog does all the tricks and does them well. Do you live in San Francisco? Visiting soon? If you’re anything like us, you’ll want to stop here, maybe learn a few new tricks while you’re at it!