We continue Wine Bar Week at BarFlySF with today’s post on 20 Spot in the Mission, opened last March by Bodhi Freedom, a man with the most interesting name who is also the owner of Russian Hill’s Bacchus Wine & Sake Bar. As a quick refresher, we are featuring posts on wine bars that offer gourmet food other than typical fare of charcuterie and cheese plates. 20 Spot took over the Force of Habit record store, and although it has been redone as a wine bar complete with a very nice wooden bar and comfortable couches to lounge on, it does pay homage to its roots as a record store with some cool retro touches in both the decor and serving plates. Unlike Bacchus, 20 Spot focuses on food as well as wine. Freedom was lucky enough to hire the talented chef pair Anthony Paone and his wife to come up with innovative fare from a very limited outfitted kitchen. Paone’s extensive decade-long history with Berkeley’s K2 restaurant group started at Lalime’s, then serving as the opening chef of the popular Fonda Solana and finally as Executive Chef of the now-defunct Sea Salt.
20 Spot is the new place in the Mission to go where crowds definitely ebb and flow to grab one of the 38 seats available. There have been a couple of times when we passed by and the place was packed; but, on other occasions, we have also been lucky enough to get a couple of seats and enjoy a glass of wine. The display behind the wine bar is a custom built shelving system that evokes record bins, topped with retro glass vases and nicknacks:
Serving around 20 wines by the glass, they also offer a full bottle list with about 100 different domestic and imported wines for consumption on the premises. With ten or so items on their “Bill of Fare,” there is something available for every taste, from salads to “potted rabbit” and seafood items.
On a previous visit we drank a couple of glasses and snacked on their excellent deviled duck eggs (unfortunately, the camera battery was drained.) This time we returned with the full intention of eating a meal and started by ordering a bottle of this slightly aged Burgundy from the Santenay region. We prefer old-world style wines, especially when it comes to pinot noir, so when a classic vintage bottle from Côte de Beaune is available, it’s an easy choice. Choosing a Burgundy in a wine shop can be difficult because of the sheer number and variety available, but a wine bar provides the perfect opportunity to pick the brain of your server, and often a taste is available before committing to the whole bottle. A well-balanced Burgundy is among our favorites to pair with food, and this 2008 Camille Giroud was a perfect companion for the evening:
We shared the Steak Tartare that was served with plate-smeared shiitake “ketchup” (a great source for umami), a small quail egg yolk and plenty of shredded horseradish. We mixed the items together and spread the flavorful meat on the crostini toasts provided:
The Roasted Potatoes are topped with a super delicious cheddar rarebit (cheese sauce), smoked pork bits and grilled ramps. Contained in a vintage Corning Ware Blue Corn Flowers baking dish, there was plenty of richly dressed potatoes to go around, but we still managed to scarf these tasty spuds down pretty fast:
Not listed on their menu was a special for that evening: Slow-Cooked pork shoulder served with couscous and a cucumber and pepper salad. The pork was comfort-food great and very filling, definitely not something you would expect to get a typical wine bar. The dish itself was rather large and easily fed both of us:
A close-up of the tasty pork reveals the tender pink flesh that was easily pulled apart by a fork:
As a holdover from the record store, “Skelvis,” a wooden placard of a skeletal Elvis, keeps watch over all of the drinkers and diners:
They do offer several types of cheese to pair with wines or eat as a dessert course. The potatoes and pork were so filling that we only had room for the rest of the wine.
Located only a few blocks away from the happening 20th St. corridor that includes Flour + Water, Central Kitchen, Salumeria, Trick Dog and KronnerBurger just around the corner, 20th St. is definitely a dining and drinking mecca. With 20 wines available by the glass at this great new wine bar on 20th St, we think we know why they are called 20 Spot — it is the place to be.
Nov. 14, 2013 Update
Chef Anthony Paone and his wife have moved on and they announced that Caleb Jones (with experience at Claudine) has taken over the kitchen.