Sips in SoMa


District is proof that there's still room in San Francisco for another wine bar (and believe me, I've had my doubts). Last week I went there for a wine-and-food-pairing event showcasing the undeniable talents of wine director Caterina Mirabelli and executive chef Jen Solomon. If you want to learn more about them and District, read The South Beach Diet in this month's Best Bite.

photography by Rick Camargo

Wednesday night was my premier visit, even though District opened in February. First off, the space is about twice, maybe even three times, that of your regular wine bar. It's actually housed in a 1918 brick building with unfinished high ceilings baring iron and wood beams and, no surprise, exposed brick walls. The custom-made hanging iron chandelier/wineglass rack immediately impressed me. And contrary to what you might think, the space is extremely cozy.

Throughout the night, Caterina kept our wine glasses full with selections from Germany, France, Slovenia, Italy and Santa Barbara (there might have been more). Not to be outdone in this pairing, Jen kept us busy with plates of tuna tartare accented with fried capers, risotto balls oozing fontina and sage, and short ribs topped with crispy parsnip strips. Each pairing was distinct and enjoyable, and then there was dessert--my favorite. The Jo Pithon Coteaux du Layon Les 4 Villages 2004 was nicely sweet and definitely not syrupy like many other dessert wines, and it paired well with Jen's Portuguese almond cake that was similarly just the right amount of sweetness.

Other than the fact that one of my best friends lives nearby, I've never had the urge to spend much time on Townsend, but now I know I'll be back. Maybe I'll reach Norm-like status with my own corner stool at the bar. After all, I saw they pour Cold Heaven Viognier from Santa Barbara, which is an all-time winner in my book.

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