Lunchpad: Pop-Up Lunch Launches in Hayes Valley

When you think “noir” and “lunch,” what comes to mind might be two crooks plotting a heist over 10-cent coffee in a greasy spoon somewhere.

That's changing at Hayes Valley's new arrival, Noir Lounge — which occupies the former Frjtz. As a wine bar that opens mid-afternoon, looking to ensnare the theater crowd, Noir opted to fill the noontime gap with The Lunchpad, a sandwich-heavy weekday pop-up.

A project by three brothers, Lunchpad has this idea about sandwiches: Take a recognizable meat (such as roast beef, Black Forest ham, or, for vegetarians, breaded eggplant parm) and use it as a vehicle to deliver giardiniera and/or habanero candied bacon into your belly.

Softly pickled in vinegar, the giardiniera adds a nice pop of heat to the mix of a Turkey Drizzle, made with cashew pesto, Swiss cheese, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato and turkey with a bit of balsamic gastrique. Even the garlic clove that came along for the ride in the additional side of pickles between the sandwich halves was mellow enough to eat whole.

It would be remiss not to note the terrific texture of the bread, from Marla's Bakery, which is firm without being too doughy or crunchy. In other words, it knows its place. Breakfast service leans heavy on the Marla's and the protein with such items as a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich.

Sure, Noir's flat-screen TV inside a gilt frame is a little corny (Monica's peephole on Friends, anyone?). So is a Lunchpad proprietor drumming up business in a pickle suit and aviators, but actually, that's the kind of sincere corniness we love most.

The Lunchpad at Noir Lounge, 581 Hayes, 378-2668. Hours: Mon-Fri, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.

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