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We also finish every one of the thin, crisp, skin-on shoestring fries. But my favorite side is the creamed spinach: the leaves still en branche, and swimming in a pool of pale yellow cream. I regret that there's no baked potato available, but judging from the three sides we tried, this is one steakhouse where a vegetarian would be lucky to find himself.
As would someone with a sweet tooth: Butterscotch pudding is served in a milkshake glass, topped with a couple of inches of soft, freshly whipped cream, and sided with two huge chunks of blondies stuffed with whole macadamia nuts. The pineapple-coconut cake is a classic upside-down cake improved by fresh pineapple. I was recently burned by an expensive and nasty dinner in a local steakhouse that shall be nameless (oh, OK, it was Harris'); Acme Chophouse serves us the kind of meal that ennobles the genre. (And I find out as we leave that there is a double-cut pork chop offered on the slightly different menu available after the game starts.)
24 Willie Mays Plaza
San Francisco, CA 94107
Region: South of Market
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Grilled squid $7
Leg of lamb $19
Short ribs $20
Creamed spinach $7
Butterscotch pudding $6.50
Open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday from 5:30 (5 on game nights) until 10 p.m. Closed Monday.
Parking: $8 valet on non-game nights, otherwise difficult
Muni: 30, 45, N
Noise level: moderate
As we walk into Pacific Bell Bark, I note how many people are dressed in an astounding variety of Giants-ware, looking vaguely Halloweeny. I realize, with a shock, that my father and I are both wearing Dodger blue. (My dad is not pleased when I point this out; he's chosen his Swedish army-surplus coat for warmth, not color.) We are pleasantly surprised by the location of our $25 seats -- on the bottom level, past first base. (I am only sad that we don't get the full, if possibly distracting, effect of the waterfront setting. And also a little because I feel torn between the two teams; Shawn Green is still my guy.)
The game is a pitcher's battle, and only gets really exciting in the ninth, when the until-then-scoreless Dodgers tie the Giants with two runs and the game goes into extra innings. (In the seventh inning, I force my friends and family to sample a Giant dog, lukewarm and so innocuous as to seem bready, and the highly touted but greasy and soggy Gordon Biersch garlic fries, interesting conceptually but failed in the execution. We are surprised and happy to see Chester's teacher, Soma, who moonlights as a peanut vendor, but are too full to try his wares.) I celebrate the tie by making an excursion to the Fresh Catch stand -- near the kids' playground, featuring the glamorous Andy Warhol-worthy Coca-Cola slide -- for a pricey $8 container of fried calamari cooked in aging oil and a surprisingly delicious lobster roll, the chopped meat enlivened with red onion, celery, mayo, and a touch of cayenne and paprika. Again, the roll is pricey at $11, but it's rewarding, as opposed to the $3.50 hot dog and the $5.50 fries. It's almost worth the gauntlet I brave as I run along the promenade on my way to the stand, a clot of smoking, beered-up youth inviting passing ladies to pull up their shirts and singing such favorites as "If you're wearing Dodger blue, you're a fag," to the tune of "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands." After the apple-pie decorum of Section 103, I feel I've entered a circle of hell.
But watching Barry Bonds steal his 500th base is heaven, all the more so because we were unaware that he'd been the possessor of 499, and because it puts him in scoring position. He does, the Giants win in the 11th inning, and we leave, sated with steak and success. The park and the restaurant make great teammates, but I could see dining at Acme Chophouse even with no game in the offing.
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