3166 Buchanan ~ WEBSITE ~ (415) 921-7600

5:30pm Friday 11 May 2007

Prologue: I’ve been to Brazen Head, and I don’t recall it being particularly bar-ish. It’s a restaurant (see pages 967 and 972 in The Book). It’s a restaurant that does not take reservations, aka an annoying restaurant. But it is also the thirteenth Bar in The Book, so I’m going. You can check back here for details, or you could join me and see for yourself: is it a Bar with tables and food, or a restaurant with a bar in it? The topic of conversation will be this heat wave, unless I get fiesty and then it will be why would a restaurant not take reservations? Oh, and wear something cute. I’m sporting a new low cut and flirty sundress, even if the fog has come back…

Afterword: First, let me apologize for taking so long to apprise you of my Brazen Head visit. I know some of you have been on the eager to read all about it, but I really wanted to wait ’til I had time to do the write-up the justice that the place deserves. With that, let me say that being #13 isn’t fazing Brazen Head in any way, shape, form, or fashion. Unless Alembic lists itself under “Bars” in next year’s yellow pages, Brazen Head might just singlehandedly put to rest that whole “13 is unlucky” superstition, once and for all.

“Hi-yeah,” said the bartender, whose name turned out to be Michael (hi Michael!) when I sashayed through the door in my — as promised — new low cut and flirty sundress (off-shore gale-force winds notwithstanding). And I knew, instantly, that Brazen Head was going to be a great place to spend the evening. There was a larger bar area than I remembered, and Michael was so immediately friendly, that I was almost giddy. (Of course, I was the only customer at that early hour, and with my whole not-liking-people thing, this didn’t hurt.) As I checked for hooks, Michael made me a martini, and started politely offering to close the door if I was freezing. There being no one else there to size up, I introduced myself to Michael and a waitress named Patricia (hi Patricia!) and told them about Bars By The Book. Lively and engaging conversation ensued…

Then other, apparently regular, patrons started coming in. Michael (impressively) greeted every one of them by name, too. Somewhere around the time that Paladin showed up, I decided that Brazen Head is at least 50-50, Bar-restaurant-wise. (And given the size of the kitchen, I might say it’s 60-40 Bar — but they do a nice job separating the drinkers from the diners, especially considering the total square footage, so don’t let this stop you from making plans to eat there. Their burgers do come — delightfully, I must say — with a side of mashed potatoes, after all.)

So regular customers came, and went, and more came. Brazen Head seems to be a Bar where certain people make a point of going on a somewhat regular basis. I do suppose this is somewhat by design, because there is absolutely no sign out front anywhere, so there’s not much of a chance of a random vagabond straggling in. (And there’s that whole no reservation thing, which also serves to keep out the hoi-polloi, which I understand in terms of Brazen Head, and actually appreciate in their case). There is even a secret parking plan, but you’re going to have to go and be friendly enough to get them to tell you about it, because if there’s one thing I take seriously, it’s secrets. Also, on the third Sunday in September, Brazen Head shuts down their short Marina block for a party featuring the usual festivities, the proceeds of which benefit the Susan G. Komen breast cancer cause, which is a nice gesture, don’t you agree?

There are two small tv’s, the volumes of which are never turned on (so Michael assured me), so you can keep an eye on the activities of any local sports teams that might finally be doing something noteworthy (“We Believe!” blah, blah, blah) whilst drinking. A martini appears to cost $8.00, which is a bit much, but Michael didn’t even mind when I ordered a Smoky Mirror (mustn’t let Laphroaig go to waste when it’s available, right?) and had Paladin tell him how to make one, which is worth something, because I am sure bartenders find this irksome (and I certainly don’t blame them), yet Michael, to his credit, didn’t even flinch.

What can I say? We were having a high time and didn’t want to leave. (That, plus Paladin had eaten next to nothing all day long and was totally slurring his words after his third Dewars rocks.) We decided to abandon our previous plan to wander elsewhere for cheaper fare and stay at Brazen Head for dinner. It was still early enough that we had our pick of tables and so Table One it was (very cozy, next to the bobble-head display case, and still basically in the bar area). Then I sent the drunk Barfly home (by public transportation, don’t worry) and returned to the bar for my dessert…

Michael introduced me to his colleague Steve(n) (hi Steve!) and I turned my attention to the two young gentlemen to my right, Bob and Wyatt (hi guys!). They were completely charming chaps and I just have to say: to those of you gals in this town who bemoan the alleged dearth of potential beaux, get out of your apartment and go to a Bar!!! I’m just thirteen Bars into the 130 in The Book and I have already met more friendly, good-looking, conversationally-endurable men than I can shake a swizzle stick at (perhaps I should create another category…?). Truly.

Anyway, Bob and Wyatt kept me excellent company for my dessert drink. One of them had just gotten back from Hawaii and the other one had just returned from the Ritz Carlton at Half Moon Bay (clearly, these are people with whom I should spend more quality time, guys?). Eventually it was time to blow (the by now very busy) Michael a kiss and brace myself against the frigid windy weather outside the non-descript (from the street) door to make my way over the hill — just in time to see the Warriors beat the Utah Jazz by, like 20 points, thereby confirming my long-held suspicion that the NBA finals are totally fixed so as to sell the most television commercials. But I didn’t care about the sorry state of professional sports, because I had just had a wonderful evening at Brazen Head on which to dwell in my dreams…

Bathroom Biography:
One for each. Look to the right as you enter to get a sense of how small the kitchen is. The restrooms are long and narrow, reminding me of a train, for some reason. The sink is more like half-a-sink, but is actually pretty cute and definitely in keeping with the dimensions of the space, so it works. The mirror is double-hinged, which should mean that you can check your hair from three angles, but only one hinge was operational on my visit. Bottom line: go for it — being confident that you look good from at least two angles is a bonus.

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