Though the name of this Castro newcomer, Starbelly, has most people thinking about Dr. Seuss, I'm going to go ahead and date myself as a '90s teenager by announcing that the restaurants name evokes nothing so much as the Bikini Kill song "Star-Bellied Boy." (Not to be confused with the Hole song "Star Belly"). In that riot-girl anthem the girls rock out, screaming "Star-bellied boy different from the rest, you're so different from the rest, prove you're different from the rest."
It was great to see last week's absinthe column by the New York Times' Eric Asimov. It was also great to be mentioned in his corresponding blog post. Just before the column ran, he came into town for a couple of nights, and on one of them I took him round to a couple of bars and later for dinner at RN74.
With my rapidly advancing age, marital state and experience working at Cantina on many Fridays over the last year, I have largely stopped going out on weekend nights. Bars are just too crowded, too loud. You know . . . too "too." And I don't even have kids.
But I had friend in town from LA this weekend who was interested in the SF cocktail scene, so Friday was a good chance to observe the weekend nightlife at a couple of the city's more happening cocktail outposts.
Clearly this whole economy thing is confusing us. On one hand, big-name restaurants are going gonzo and offering up packages like I've never heard of before. As Eater reported, "Big Restos Can, And Will, Ignore the Economy." Witness "Dining with the Stars:" For $1900 per couple, you can experience what you might call the ultimate progressive dinner, including Michael Mina, Cyrus and Meadowood.
Then, in the New York Times yesterday, an article in the Dining & Wine section entitled—"Across the Country, Restaurants Feel the Pinch"—reported of NYC: "Many restaurants say more customers are sharing appetizers, buying cheaper wine, ordering less wine and fewer courses, or just not showing up as much." It's a sentiment I've heard echoed by many restaurant owners in SF.