Food halls have a retro appeal to them, as if we’re returning to the days before big-box retailers, when people were perfectly comfortable buying every last staple from a different purveyor. Granted, the Hall and the Market still put everybody under the same two roofs in SoMa, but a mile or so up Market Street is another similar establishment with a less-generic name doing much the same thing.
The Myriad isn’t aiming to mimic a small-town high street — there’s a future-is-now baguette vending machine by Le Bread Xpress, for one — but among the crepe stand and the poke counter are not one but two places to get a drink. Mrs. Jones is a cocktail spot by the same team behind the Tendernob Italian restaurant Jones, and the menu is as simple as can be: There’s a Moscow Mule, a daiquiri, a gin-and-tonic, a Boulevardier, and an Old Fashioned, plus a few wines. The bartender does make Bloody Marys, though, and sometimes he pours off some of the liquid that a jar of hot peppers pickles inside, “when I’m feeling fun.”
Slightly mentholated from the eucalyptus, the Boulevardier ($14) was as intense as if there had been no ice in it, and a shaker containing the various components was placed in the freezer until they sufficiently cooled off. The gin-and-tonic ($12), though, was nice and sweet. Or at least the seasonal syrup, heavy on lavender and star anise, was — because by the time it became a proper highball, things had thinned out sufficiently. (Fortunately, we’d gotten a little sample of the syrup before ordering the drink; stirring the unsampled remainder into the glass did wonders.)
Oddly, Mrs. Jones’ best option was Not Your Mother’s Jell-O Shots ($4 each). Homer Simpson once claimed that purple is a fruit, but here, purple is grape with Tanqueray and juniper berries. Red means raspberry with vodka and Violette liqueur, and orange consists of bourbon, Grand Marnier, and a hibiscus flower garnish.
Go with purple; it’ll make you happy. Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that Mrs. Jones — who is a shipping container — was plopped in a dark corner, and not in a way that sets the mood. The poured-concrete interior of the Myriad is cheap-looking, showing some age in spite of being open for only a few months. There’s foil-wrapped HVAC and flickering fluorescent tubes, along with lots of cutesy, pre-fab cubic metalwork that makes Google’s kindergarten-paint-set color scheme look elegant and sophisticated. The acoustics are such that a deep fryer can drown out the music. What’s even more unfortunate is that the bathrooms, a wall of stalls behind Mrs. Jones and opposite what looks like a slop sink in a janitorial closet, appeared as though they hadn’t been cleaned all day. (I used one and peered into the others.) If you’re paying top dollar to get drunk in an industrial pre-K that’s lit like the Silver Crest Donut Shop, you can be forgiven for at least wanting a clean toilet.
So it’s better to check out San Francisco Brewing Co.‘s tap room before you go. Beyond anything else, it’s got Herman Miller stools, so you’ll be downing Splash Family Grapefruit IPA and Alcatraz Amber in a state of conspicuous comfort. (The lighting is better over there, too.)
Rather than stop at two, it’s best to get a sample tray (five for $13, six for $16, or eight for $20). I’m not usually a big fan of beers that add a lot of bells and whistles post-fermentation, so in spite of loving Sightglass Coffee and TCHO Chocolate, the Nitro Stout wasn’t for me; it feels too artificial in spite of being artisanal. But the other four were excellent. Splash in particular stands out for its use of grapefruit peel, rendering a cleaner result than the inexplicably expensive Sculpin Grapefruit IPA. And the Dynasty Stout is made by aging the beer for eight months in Elijah Craig bourbon barrels to yield a 12 percent ABV experiment that tastes like a Pinot-Merlot blend. That one’s really something.
In spite of the name, San Francisco Brewing Co. is actually located in San Carlos, and while it’s widely available at bars and restaurants around town, this wee little kiosk is the only thing approaching a tap room you’ll find in the city. And it’s right next to the only baguette vending machine, too. Bread and beer are the Myriad’s bread and butter.
Mrs. Jones and San Francisco Brewing Company, inside the Myriad, 2175 Market St. 415-608-2220 or themyriad.com.