Piano Reappears Atop Bernal Hill, and The Rest Was Magic


Hooray! Once again, a piano reappeared on Bernal Hill yesterday…  and the rest was just music and magic.



A video posted by Jen (@tuasomeblossom) on


A video posted by Linn S. (@linnnhs) on

And of course, the fun continued as the sun went down:

PHOTO: Top, Vicky.se

Old Bus Tavern, a Clever, Creative New Brewpub in Bernal, Opens Tonight



Big news: The Old Bus Tavern (3193 Mission @Valencia), the new Southwestern-style brewpub that’s been in the works for months, opens for business tonight, Thursday July 23.

Your Bernalwood editor attended a glamorous preview dinner at Old Bus last night, but we’ll tell you more about that in a moment. First, let’s hear what the local fooderati are saying about this new addition to our neighborhood.

Writing for InsideScoop, here’s Sarah Fritsche:

The creation of partners and long-time friends, Jimmy Simpson, John Zirinsky and Bennett Buchanan, the unusually named brewpub Old Bus Tavern (named after Zirinsky’s 1978 Volkswagen Westfalia bus) is finally set to open its doors this Thursday (July 23).

Late last week, the trio were kind enough to give Inside Scoop a pre-opening peek at what to expect from the new Bernal Heights restaurant and brewery.

When you walk through the door, the first thing you notice is the gleaming, and open to the dining room, custom brewery made for the restaurant by Portland Kettleworks. Both Zirinsky and Buchanan, who began as avid home brewers eight years ago, will oversee the beer program. […]

Aside from the brew kettles, the other main focal point in the 49-seat dining room, which is designed by Sarah Greenwood Design (Greenwood also happens to be Zirinsky’s mother), is a collection of antique Navajo rugs that decorate the walls.

The rugs belong to Zirinsky’s uncle, who has been collecting Native American art and artifacts since the 1970s. “He’s had these rugs in storage for 25 years, so my mom had the idea, why don’t we ask Tom if we can take the rugs out of storage and put them up on the walls? It’s great to have a personal family connection, but also it just looks cool together,” says Zirinsky.

The Southwestern motif also carries over to the cocktails and food.

That’s a key thing to understand about Old Bus: They have a serious Southwestern thing going on, with an emphasis on the “serious.” But more about that in a moment, really, because headline of Thrillist’s story says the Old Bus “could be the best SF opening of the year”:

Located in Bernal Heights, this casual brewpub serves game changing drinks and eats in a cool, friendly atmosphere. Chef Max Snyder worked in four Michelin-starred restaurants before coming to Old Bus and offers way-elevated pub fare like pickled quail eggs served on a bed of fried onions. The beers are awesome, from the Old Bus Tavern Lemon Basil Saison to their OBT Chili Porter, which is brewed with Valrhona cocoa nibs and 60lbs of roasted Poblano chiles. Cocktails aren’t to be missed either…really, you should just order everything on the menu.

Zagat is excited too. So is SFist. So is Tablehopper.

Okay, yeah, so a whole lot of people who don’t live in Bernal Heights say they are excited about this new place in Bernal Heights. But as a card-carrying Citizen of Bernalwood, with Old Bus Tavern at your doorstep, should you be excited about the place too?

Oh hell yes.

The team that created the Old Bus has worked incredibly hard to make it happen, and the results of their effort are impressive. During last night’s glamorous preview dinner, your Bernalwood editor remarked that the interior of the space is warm and interesting. It’s modern and refined, with an unmistakable southwestern vibe. In fact, that basically describes every aspect of The Old Bus Tavern: modern and refined, with an unmistakable southwestern vibe.


I did a robust exploration of a few signature cocktails, and they were terrific.

One clever standout was the OBT (with tequila, orange curaçao, lime, and a homemade poblano pepper syrup). It’s like a craft margarita with a spicy kick that lends itself to slow-paced sipping. Loved it.


The beer program is just getting up to speed, with an Old Bus Lemon Basil Saison on tap now. A homebrew Opening Day IPA and Chili Porter are expected to be ready later in the week. And all of it is made right onsite, in the kettles near the center of the dining room:


Otherwise, you can also get any of this:


The food was much more ambitious than I’d expected — divey cuisine, this is not. The pickled quail eggs with fried onions was sublime. The chilled eggplant soup tasted like something that came from Santa Fe by way of Cairo. The onion spaetzel was creative and fresh. The chili with pequin chiles was tender, rich, and intense:



Here’s the full menu. NOTE: Before snarking about the prices, please read the fine print: “Service and tax are included in all of our menu prices; no tipping is necessary. Our revenue sharing system allows us to pay our entire staff a living wage.”

Oh, and did I mention that it opens to the public tonight? As with any new restaurant, expect a few bumps at first, but Bernalwood recommends trying out the Old Bus Tavern sooner rather than later, because this place probably won’t be a local secret for very long.

Big congrats to the Old Bus Team, and welcome to the neighborhood.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Bernal Pride Was Kind of Colorful; Kind of Jiggly


On Sunday afternoon, Neighbor Leslie (Disclosure: your Bernalwood editor’s sweetie) went for a stroll in Bernal Heights, where she stumbled upon a rather charming neighborhood Pride Party in progress on the world-famous Lundys Landing.

Neighbor Leslie reports there was plenty of laughter and good cheer at the scene, which was to be expected. What she did not expect was to find, however, was a very special, jiggly treat: Pride-themed Jello Shots!

Citizens of Bernalwood, this is what a proper neighborly Pride welcome looks like:


PHOTOS: LeslieJ on Instagram

Cortland’s Sandbox Bakery Sold to Pinkie’s from SOMA


In Japanese literature and art, the concept of  mono no aware (物の哀れ) is often central to the creative aesthetic. Mono no aware is a difficult idea to describe, but basically it represents an intimate emotional awareness of the inherent transience and impermanence of all things. So with apologies for this confessional moment, your Bernalwood editor is today struggling with his own sense of mono no aware, because Neighbor Mutsumi Takehara’s delicious Sandbox Bakery on Cortland is under new ownership.

Confirmed: Sandbox has been sold to Pinkie’s Bakery from SOMA.

In an email to Bernalwood last week, Neighbor Peter provided the tip that something was up:

Sandbox has been closed recently and word is that it has been taken over by “Pinkie’s Bakery” or something like that. At least, several of my friends have reported that the receipts now say Pinkie’s Bakery.

Is the Bernalwood News Team aware of these events?

Last weekend the Bernalwood Action News team deployed to the scene for some hungry-for-breakfast reporting at Sandbox.  The pastry selection was conspicuously meager during our visit, and there were no negi-miso croissants anywhere be seen. Anywhere. Nevertheless, we verified the basic details of Neighbor Peter’s tip: Sandbox Bakery was in fact sold, and Pinkie’s Bakery was in fact the buyer.

Later on Saturday, Bernalwood received a friendly note from the proprietor of Pinkie’s Bakery:

My name is Cheryl Storms and I own Pinkie’s Bakery on Folsom with my business partner Chris Beerman.

I just wanted to drop a line and give you a heads up that we very recently bought Sandbox Bakery.  I know there’s a tiny bit of buzz going around and I wanted to make sure I paid proper respect to the neighborhood and introduce myself before word got out too much.

Generally, we won’t be changing too much about Sandbox, other than the name and some of the products. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Pinkie’s, but our product line is much more American style; I’ve always made things that I consider comforting and delicious (my dads recipe for carrot cake, banana nut bread, apple turnovers, amazing chocolate chip cookies).

I’d like to bring many of my signature Pinkies pastries over to Cortland, and I’m keeping a lot of Mutsumi’s products as well, but many of the Japanese items are gone because I feel like those were really specific to her and her vision of the bakery.  We are also bringing in artisan breads, cakes, and a lot of afternoon treats.  We do a lot of wholesale bread and are using the kitchen overnight for our production as well.

I’m excited to serve the neighborhood and meet all of our neighbors.  I have a four month old, so I really like the family vibe of Bernal; kid friendliness and family was a big part of Mutsumi’s bakery and I definitely won’t be changing that as it becomes Pinkie’s Bakery.

The Pinkie’s Bakery Instagram account provides a visual overview of the specialties:


It all looks sprinklicious, so please welcome Cheryl and Pinkie’s Bakery to Cortlandia!

Still, I cannot deny: I will miss those fantastic negi-miso croissants Sandbox used to make; they were a profound and wonderful thing. Yet, like the fallen petals of a cherry blossom, I realize those days have passed. In my heart I feel mono no aware, but in my mouth it tastes like umami memories of a negi-miso croissant.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

Modern Druids Host Solstice Feast on Bernal Hill




It was the kind of feast that would have made the ancient Bernal druids proud.

Last night, on the evening of the solstice, a group of very resourceful, very tasteful friends hosted a proper dinner party on Bernal Hill, complete with white tablecloths, linen napkins, and porcelain plates.

A photo analysis by the Bernalwood Culinary Observation Team reveals that the menu included a fresh garden salad with feta and asparagus, accompanied by salmon served on a bed of orzo and lemon. Spa water with fresh berries was also provided. Solstice flower crowns were a fashion essential, and of course, the view was magnificent.

Bravo and well done, people. This looks delicious.

PHOTOS: Top two by @ohappyday; Bottom, Guillaume Lebleu

Star Sighting! Videogame Pioneer Nolan Bushnell Spotted at Red Hill Station


Famous creators of the videogame industry dine at Red Hill Station… just like us!

Neighbor Robert was on paparazzi patrol last week, and he filed this star-studded report:

It was very cool to see Nolan Bushnell, Atari founder and godfather of video games (shout-out to Pong!), at Red Hill Station last Friday night. He was in town for the Google I/O conference, and while in town he decided to dine at Red Hill Station.

Turns out his wife, Nancy, is a major LA foodie and visited Red Hill Station for dinner recently with her brother, a longtime Bernal resident. Nancy was so taken with the restaurant she made sure he paid a visit.

Nolan loved the food, the staff, the whole Bernal vibe, and when introduced to the chef, Taylor Pedersen’s eyes widened and he said he owed Bushnell a huge debt of gratitude. As a child of six, Taylor used to sing for quarters just for the chance to play Atari classics like Asteroids and Battlezone one more time.

PHOTO: Neighbor Robert

Bel, the New Belgian-Style Gastropub, Now Open on Mission


Belgian beer lovers and moules frites fans rejoice! Inside Scoop brings the news that Bel has at last opened for business at 3215 Mission Street near Valencia. They write:

Some foods were just made to go with beer. This is nothing new to Richard Rosen and Jennifer Garris, the team behind the Mission’s craft beer and pizza joint, Pi Bar.

With the opening their brand new Bernal Heights’ gastropub, Bel, the pair are at it again — this time, tackling the beers and foods of Belgium. Located in the former Locavore space on Mission, at Valencia Street, the restaurant opened its doors Sunday night (5/25).

On the beer front, expect a range of saison, Trappist, sours and fruit beers, among others. According to Garris, of the twelve drafts, four will be dedicated to a rotating roster of Belgian beers. Also available, a variety of California-made Belgian-style brews and a bottle list of about 45 Belgian bottles. Wines will be mostly French and German. (The full drink list is online.)

Rosen’s menu, which is comprised of small and large plates, looks promising, and of course, includes an obligatory interpretation of moules frites. Other classic Belgian offerings include a Ghent-style fish chowder made with prawns, mussels and cod called seafood waterzooi and carbonades flamandes — a dish made with beef brisket and Flemish sour beer, Rodenbach. On the side, in addition to frites, you’ll find a chiffonade of Brussels sprouts and a Belgian endive gratin.

Here’s the menu.

Oh, and be advised, Bel has even installed their very own Manneken Pis. What’s a Manneken Pis? Apparently, that’s Belgian for this fella:


PHOTOS: via Bel