With nearly 120 Belgian beers on tap at North Beach newcomer La Trappe (800 Greenwich at Mason), it’s clear that owner Michael Azzalini holds a special place in his heart for beer from that country. But while the brew takes center stage, he says customers would be remiss not to delve into the lounge’s food menu. “Most people come in for our moules et frites, which is mussels and fries,” he says. “But all the dishes are really neat. My favorite is our rabbit stew. It’s made with a dark, caramel-y, chocolate-y beer as well as prunes, which brings out the taste of the rabbit very well.” For more info, call 440-8727 or click here.
Elegant comfort food is the order of the day at Local Kitchen and Wine Merchant (330 First St. at Folsom), where Swedish chef Ola Fendert (of Oola fame) presides over a menu dappled with delightful surprises. Several not-to-be-missed highlights include “pytti panna,” which SF Weekly's Meredith Brody describes as “a homey, satisfying bowl of steak, potato, and beet chunks sautéed with shallots and parsley and topped with a fried egg as big as the Sun.” For dessert, try the heretofore-unknown cavolini, ice-cream-filled cream-puff shells drizzled with rich caramel sauce. For more info, call 777-4200 or click here.
February has been a good month for beer drinkers of particularly high tolerance in San Francisco. Not only are we still smack-dab in the middle of Strong Beer Month, but through Feb. 23 the Toronado Pub (547 Haight at Steiner) in the Lower Haight is celebrating another wonder of alcoholic brewing known as barley wine at the Toronado Barley Wine Festival 2008. Rising to dizzying heights of alcoholic strength — up to 15 percent — the distinctive, full-flavored, sweet ale gets its name because while it's often as strong as wine, it's still brewed from grain. Needless to say, newbies should sip lightly and stick with the three- and six-ounce glasses. For more info, call 863-2276 or click here.
The 10th San Francisco Independent Film Festival wraps up this week, but it's not too late to catch a screening of four locally made short films on its last night. This Thursday, Feb. 21, catch the 7:15 p.m. screening of Bay Area Shorts at the Roxie Cinema (3117 16th St. at Valencia) in the heart of the Mission. For more info, call 820-3907 or click here. The films have a tidy running time of just over 75 minutes, so the night will still be young enough for you to hop across the street and check out some regional brews at The Monk's Kettle (3141 16th St. at Albion), a new craft-beer and wine-centric tavern where the bartenders are wise, the crowd is (blessedly) not-so-Mission hip, and well-heeled pub grub is served until 1:00 a.m. For more info, call 865-9523 or click here.
This Saturday, Feb. 23, hit DNA Lounge (375 11th St. at Harrison) in SOMA to smooth things out with a few stiff libations at the bar and catch the dance club phenom known as Bootie, billed as the first club night in the country devoted solely to the bootleg mash-up, with something for just about every taste. This week, resident DJs Adrian, the Mysterious D, and Party Ben pit the tunes of Courtney Love against those of Nelly Furtado. Admission is $8 before 10:30 p.m., $12 after. For more info, call 626-1409 or click here.
It's time again to make the rounds of new joints sprouting up across San Francisco, starting in the Castro at local Hunan-cuisine purveyors Brandy Ho's (4068 18th St. at Castro), which has scored with the sequel to its esteemed North Beach location. For more info, call 252-8000 or click here. Next, head to the Mission, where the mango lassis and Bollywood flicks flow freely alongside upscale Indian apps at Bollyhood Cafe (3372 19th St. at Mission). For more info, call 970-0362 or click here.