The brilliantly-hued crab fondue. (Sarah Chorey)

First Taste: True Laurel Does Craft Cocktails and Eclectic Comfort Eats in Intimate Style

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Amid the bedlam of the holidays, True Laurel sneakily opened last Friday in a quiet culinary corridor of the Mission.

Coming from the Lazy Bear team, this place is a must-visit for any foodie. Chef David Barzelay and bar director Nicolas Torres have put together an elevated menu of a la carte small plates and drinks, a complete flip on the tasting menu-only format of Lazy Bear, offering an affordable and accessible way to experience their cuisine and eccentric mix of cocktails.


True Laurel was inspired from Barzelay's recent trip to Tokyo, where he visited an intimate cocktail den called Gen Yamamoto, where he was served by Yamamoto himself. There, at the eight-seater bar, he experienced a personalized selection of cocktail courses, each incorporating many custom ingredients, rare spirits, and seasonal produce. He wanted to replicate that intimate, one-on-one interaction between bartender and a small number of patrons here in San Francisco, and with Torres, created a menu of craft drinks and light bites to support the custom bartending experience. Think sips that use whole fruit, special wines, and house-made liquors showcased in curated antique glassware. The food skews towards upscale comfort, not restricted by any one region of cooking—the menu is marked by a number of different cuisines. Everything is small and shareable, inviting you to dive into several plates to sample, taste and share. Next up, just around the corner in 2018, the team will offer their version of an experimental tasting menu of five cocktails with food pairings at the eight-person bar with two seatings per night. We're already planning our next date night.

The Shaker Lemon Stirred cocktail (left) is made with Meyer lemon rind-infused fino, moscato chinato, wheat vodka and a dash of lemon leaf oil. The A-Dilla cocktail (right) is graced with True Laurel's aquavit, dill, and Makrut leaf balanced with a fruity blend of passionfruit, coconut, and pomegranate. The team is dedicated to thoughtfully using all parts of their cocktail produce ingredients—for example, the juice, peel, and pith of a lemon—reducing waste, and boosting flavor.

// True Laurel, 753 Alabama Street, truelaurelsf.com

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