SAN FRANCISCO — With a bigger venue and full liquor license, owners and certified Somalias Sarah Trubnick and Carolyn Johnson have expanded their small wine bar into a full-blown restaurant and bar, featuring a rotating menu highlighting different regions each season. Their current focus? All things Italy.
The Barrel Room in San Francisco recently teamed up with Fort Point Beer Company to launch their very first beer pairing dinner. Guests had the opportunity to hear from both the brewers and executive chef Manuel Hewitt who talked about the collaboration process and careful matching of beer and food.
Earlier this year, The Barrel Room moved out of the Tenderloin and into the Financial District. “Everything was stepped up for this place,” said Trubnick. “It’s kind of a challenging concept but every three months it turns into an entirely new restaurant.”
The new location has also expanded the team’s focus on beer. Cicerone Danielle Schlamp comes over from the Trappist, with an extensive knowledge and love of beer, playing a crucial role in keeping a variety of brews on their nine taps and over 30 bottles at any given time.
Always on tap is Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA, Fort Point’s KSA kolsch and Holy Craft’s Magnum Opus Belgian style ale. An alternating pale ale option will also always be on the list; currently Magic Hat’s #9, that ironically is deemed a “not so pale ale,” with Pale and Crystal malts, Apollo and Cascade hops, and an extra apricot essence identity, is meant to be a little bit of a mystery to even the most experienced beer drinkers.
In conjunction with the recent beer pairing dinner, the team has also recently released their new beer flight. Each flight consist of four different beers ranging from dark to light, each four ounce pours. Although these flights are not centered around the region-specific wine and food focus, the flights will continually alternate as well.
“The first flight was Belgian inspired and we are still kind of going off of that,” said Schlamp. “We have been changing the flights slightly each week, still feeling it out.”
Currently on flight is Heretic Brewing Company‘s Black Maria, a black IPA — Saint Somewhere’s Serge, a farmhouse style ale — La Trouffette Belle D’Ete, a Belgian wheat — and Alesmith’s Horny Devil, a Belgian strong pale ale. Guests also have the option to switch out one of the beers to one that they have on tap.
The building on Sansome Street, previously home to George’s, a sustainable seafood restaurant, has undergone major renovations. Exposed old brick walls and gorgeous new redwood across the extended bar have brought in much needed new life with warm tones and a modern rustic feel.
An old nail salon next door was also purchased and converted into a retail shop, tasting room, and lounge. Guests can buy bottles off the shelf and drink them there, or enjoy in the restaurant for a corkage fee.
Hewitt has been brought over from the Barrel Room’s Rockridge location to oversee the lunch and dinner menus featuring the cuisines of the current region. Each rotating wine list consists of over 50 wines by the glass, arranged in flights.
“All of the flights are meant to educate in some way, whether its regional or comparing expressions of chardonnay from different areas,” said Trubnick.
Traditional cocktails, spirits and beers related to the current focus will also be offered. All year the glass list is extensive, and the bottle list has over 300 wines and 50 beers to ensure there is always something for everybody who walks in.
If the restaurant and wine shop upstairs aren’t enough, you can head downstairs to the old-style speakeasy. With new hardwood floors, leather couches, a piano and an old bank vault from the Bank of China, this space is meant to be all fun and games. Prohibition-era cocktails, private parties, whiskey tastings, and eventually cigar nights when proper ventilation can be worked out are all in the cards.