There’s been a lot of hubbub these days about whether or not California should pass a controversial bill that would allow every jurisdiction in the state to decide whether or not to let bars and restaurants to serve alcohol until 4 a.m. Introduced by Senator Scott Wiener last spring, the bill received support from bar owners looking to increase revenue and cries of dissent from anyone over the age of 30 who just doesn’t think we need to keep S.F. open that late — especially when our public transit largely stops running at midnight.
Whether or not you think it’s worthwhile to serve drunk bar-goers tequila shots at 3 a.m. — hint: it’s not — there is something to be said for a place that welcomes a late-night crowd with live music, DJ nights, and snacks. Maybe the lights have unceremoniously come up at your favorite bar, or maybe you just got off a late night shift. Whatever the case, every so often it’s necessary to have somewhere to go, post-last-call. And for that occasion, welcome Toy Soldier, now gracing Belden Alley.
San Francisco isn’t necessarily known for charming alleyways with almost-Parisian outdoor dining, but Belden Alley looks like it would be more at home in the streets of some bustling European city than someplace just off Union Square. And joining restaurants like Sauce, Sam’s Grill, and Cafe Tiramisu on this twinkly-light-adorned alley is this contemporary American venue. Once home to Belden Taverna, it’ll serve a date-friendly menu of lunch and dinner items — and, ultimately, brunch — that pair with a small selection of house-brewed beers. The after-hours-hours will begin in the fall, with a small late-night happy-hour menu of nibbles to get you through the end of the evening.
Wash down your rabbit arancini, lobster escargot, and beef stroganoff with Toy Soldier IPA or a specialty cocktail. Head in for happy hour, where you can sample drinks and bites at reduced prices. While the menu is an amalgam of French, American, and Italian items — with the perplexing addition of a Mexican-inspired duck confit quesadilla — the centrally located, 49-seat restaurant with 30 outdoor patio seats for those rare warm evenings, is an easy choice for a first date or post-work cocktail. Live music will grace the restaurant and bar on Thursday through Saturday nights with the occasional weekend DJ.
Chef Fred Turner and general manager Franz Meis honed their chops at Belden Taverna, they’re joined by co-owner Nick Pigott (co-owner of Grubstake, Mayes Oyster House, and The Blue Light) and Johnny “Love” Metheny of Johnny Love’s fame. And as if San Francisco doesn’t house enough of them, the restaurant will be home to an on-site microbrewery overseen by an award-winning fourth-generation brewmaster with a total of 14 beer taps. But don’t forget, while you’ll be able to mix, mingle, and snack until 4 a.m., your beer consumption will still be cut off by 2 a.m. (unless someone decides to pass that mind-boggling bill).
Toy Soldier, 52 Belden Place, 415-906-9048 or toysoldiersf.com