Anyone who has a labrador retriever knows that you spend most of your time trying to keep your dog from looking like a duffel bag on stilts. I'm quite convinced our sweet, hungry dog would eat until she popped if allowed. The fact that we could up her food intake was very exciting.
We informed Frances of the news in the car on the way to brunch. She beamed.
Since our vet is in the Mission, we decided to hit the Slow Club, which is just a hop and skip over in Potrero Hill.
There are restaurants where we go for birthdays and anniversaries, famous places with national reputations, like Delfina and Zuni. These are the restaurants we tell people visiting from other places that they must try.
Then there are the places where we take our friends from out of town. They double as both a place for dinner and a place for drinks, are casual, and require no reservations. If you have to wait, you simply nudge your way into the crowded little bar and order a round of cocktails to pass the time. These are places we go on Friday nights to shake off the week, or Saturday brunch to start the weekend, places we love not just for the food, but for the way they make us feel: welcome, comfortable, and reminded that we are locals. They are the restaurants I would miss the most if we moved away.
My list goes like this, although not in any particular order: Slow Club, The Front Porch, Emmy's Spaghetti Shack, Little Star, and Nopalito.
The dimly-lit Slow Club has a sleek, industrial feel, a full bar, great food, and friendly service. It's hip but not suffocatingly so, and the throngs of tattooed 20-somethings in skinny jeans are balanced by older couples enjoying a low-key dinner out, parents with small children, and people like us, youngish and kid-free, with a big gentle dog. Everyone goes to the Slow Club.
Slow Club's small, focused menu is devoted to seasonal ingredients and features the best burger in the city. It also boasts a semi-famous fried egg sandwich, which the husband orders without fail if we show up during daylight hours.
I managed to snap this photo before the husband assembled the sammie and dug in. This was my first attempt at photographing food at a restaurant and I got the distinct impression the husband was a little irritated. But it didn't stop me.
If it's possible to be obsessed with something you've never tried, that sums up how I feel about the fried egg sandwich. I don't care much for eggs, especially not fried eggs, but this sandwich looks insanely good to me. It's full of bright colors and served on grilled, crusty bread, with thick-cut bacon and a ripe tomato.
For brunch or lunch, I usually order a sandwich, this time turkey with avocado cream and bacon. The picture didn't turn out great, because it's tough to balance a camera, dog leash, and coffee cup, but I assure you it was quite delicious. And if you're wondering why I did not order the burger, it's because a burger at 10 a.m. would put me down for the count.
We also decided to order sides of toast and bacon for Frances. Although I'm no stranger to cooking for my dog, I've never actually ordered food for her at a restaurant. It seems like the kind of thing jerky people do in affluent cities. I guess I know what that makes me. But since we were under doctor's orders to beef her up, we decided to go for it. Plus, the day was crisp and beautiful and we were fueled up on lattes and french fries. It seemed unkind to deprive her of a little brunch of her own.
Frances seemed to know the bacon and toast belonged to her. Her eyes got shiny like marbles when the waiter brought them to the table.
"If he weren't already dead, my father would die knowing we ordered applewood smoked bacon and sourdough toast for a dog," I said to the husband.
He shrugged, tearing a bite-sized piece of bread off for Frances, who plucked it from his hand and chewed it delicately. "That's why you grow up and move away from your parents," he said, "so you can do things the way you like."
True enough. Part of becoming an adult, in addition to the drudgery of working and paying bills, is being able to make your own rules. I've always vastly preferred being an adult to being a child for the freedom that comes with the responsibility of being on your own. I guess our set of rules now includes occasionally taking the dog out for brunch and feeding her bacon on toast. This might seem ridiculous to many people, but in our little world all I hear is the satisfied crunch of everyone enjoying their own perfect sandwich.