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The Alembic SF Review

Hyperlocal, Craft Goodness

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You probably know the Alembic as the craft cocktail pioneer of Haight-Ashbury. The decade-old bar helped herald a new way of mixing drinks. Their playful yet skillful approach has allowed them to stand the test of time. The space is rustic, yet classy and hip without being pretentious.

Over the years it’s become an institution, topping the charts of San Francisco’s best cocktail bars. As a result, you have to crawl through a steady heard of locals, tourists and first-daters for a seat.

The food, imagined by Executive Chef David Faro, has always been a happy surprise for cocktail goers deciding to turn their visit into a full on meal. Since expanding the dining area last year, the bar and restaurant have been able to refine their vision.

There is a grand alliance at play between bar and restaurant, which allows them to hone in on their hyper-local, reduced waste philosophy. Many of the ingredients come directly from the in-house garden. What they don’t make in-house comes from trips to the local farmers market, where Faro and Bar Manager Jacob Racusin team up to fully utilize ingredients and keep their carbon footprint low.

The globally influenced food plays off the eclectic cocktails. More emphasis is put on showcasing ingredients than defining a particular cuisine. The hyper-local vision means the menu changes regularly to reflect the season’s bounty. A few signature items, like the jerk spice duck hearts, are available year round.

The fried chicken is the dark horse of the menu, moist inside, crispy outside. Served alongside savory collard greens and sausage gravy ($20)  (it’s also gluten-free). The bone marrow, while a little pricey at $17, is a thoughtful rendition. With whole cloves of roasted garlic and bright acidic capers to cut the richness of that meat butter.

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The pork belly with smoked leek chowder and Manila clams shines. Offering a unique take on a cut that can often feel like a crux. The charcuterie plate also manages to feel fresh with smoked house sausage, mortadella, country pate and a bevy of other deliciously salty cured meats.

Come for the drinks, come for the food and keep coming back to see the creative dishes that greet you with the changing seasons.

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