Striped hallways in the Sheraton Hotel. When you go with stripes, you are making a statement.
ESPN on the TV in the room and John Gruden is putting Jake Locker through drills on the field and peppering questions about films of his college play. Jake is taking it all in and Gruden seems to like him. Maybe he’ll go in the first round, maybe not… Gabbert up next.
We had nothing to drink in the room so I went back through the crazy hallway and took the elevator down to the lobby where they sell beer, wine and drinks to go. I wanted some red wine and they didn’t have a great selection so I ended up with a bottle of Rutherford Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. We drank it while watching Gruden do his thing with Gabbert. The NFL draft would be in two weeks, and they’ve been talking about it and will be talking about it on ESPN right up until and after the draft is completed.
Wine gone. Getting hungry. This time we were smart enough to do some looking around on the web to see what good Italian restaurants were in the area. We wrote down the address of Albona Ristorante that was just a few blocks away. A short walk and we were there. The menu included food we like: lamb, rabbit, fish, scallops, salads, soups, and more wine. We put in an order for a bottle of Vietti Barolo, an excellent food wine. The soup of the day was a puree of asparagus and potato pureed soup. Next up seared scallops and then rabbit for me and lamb for Zippy. 20-year tawny port for dessert plus something creamy and delicious compliments of the house.
No camera for this leg ’cause I probably would have left it somewhere.
We checked with one of the restaurant staff outside about cable cars or buses to get to Market Street, and it was too confusing, so we hailed a cab. With guts full of red wine, raw seafood, and rabbit (or lamb in Zippy’s case) we headed for Café du Nord to see The Pine Box Boys. I’d never heard of them before, but they were playing in a venue that Zippy went to last October while in The City to go to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. The description on the band’s website described their music as psychobilly murder ballads, which is right in our wheelhouse, so there we went.
The venue is in the basement of the Swedish American Hall so upon entry you descend a long flight of stairs into a Victorian style room with surprisingly high ceilings for a subterranean room and a magnificent mahogany bar. We ordered two pints – I don’t remember if we ordered Anchor Steam – and checked out the space.
Possum and Lester took the stage and played acoustic songs of murder around one microphone in the old bluegrass style. Zippy said they must be the same band as the headliner just not plugged in. Next up was a the Hubba Hubba Review, a horror themed burlesque show featuring comely looking ladies who danced to mostly blues based rock and stripped down to their tattoos and pasties. Hadn’t seen a show like that before…
The same guys that were playing as Possum and Lester came on stage and plugged in, just like Zippy predicted. Their lead singer is a great front man – an actor and a singer. They sang stuff from their new album, Tales from the Emancipated Head that I bought and have since played once in my car. Crazy good stuff.
At some point we had whisky and it was good. I declare Café du Nord a great place to go so if you are in The City looking for a show, go there.
As for us, we caught a cab back to North Beach where the rest is kind of a blur. I think we may have gone back into Vesuvio, and I am pretty sure we got a slice at the pizza joint just up the block.
Lights out… morning would come too soon.
Flashback (while spacing out on the commute home two weeks later) update: Friday night Vesuvio upstairs. Waitress says, “You know, we are known for our table service here.” Apparently we made the faux paux of buying at the bar and taking it upstairs ourselves.