San Jose

SP2 Communal Bar but Not Together

SP2 has all the earmarks for being a great concept and the perfect Spring/Summer weekend place. A very rustic yet refined interior that reminds you being at a lodge in the middle of San Jose with some elements of sleek modern design. Wine bottle chandeliers, large steel communal tables, open wall space that leads to the backyard like patio. Exposed brick and wood beams frame this bistro concept. It’s so comfortable yet hip. It’s Modern but Southern. And by no means is it trendy. Which a welcomed surprise. Great music is played that blends in with the casual atmosphere but is not distracting. All the elements are natural, organic and mold well with each other. It is a place I could see myself as a regular at in the Summertime. Sipping on Old Fashion’s or Moscow Mules or their Moonshine with friends and enjoying a warm evening. It just feels like a place to call home.

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The food looked and smelled amazing. Finger licking-sauce all over your face Ribs, Chicken and Waffles, Truffle Oil Fries are just some of  the $5 Happy Hour specials that really turned my head around. And Happy Hour is EVERYDAY! This scores a lot of points with me. The full menu will make you salivate and wish there was a pill to take to allow you to eat everything without gaining a pound. This gal is not a big dessert fan but Chocolate Molten Bacon Cake? Oh, my Lord Jesus. The variety of the specialty cocktails were very attractive as well. Sazerac? Where do you see that on a menu outside Nawlins’?  And people have been bragging about their Bloody Mary’s for which I was stoked to try out. Sigh…….And…..So, the story goes.

I came in late afternoon so I would miss the rush of Shark’s fans who have now claimed San Pedro Square as their pre-game destination. Which I do not blame them for as San Pedro square has been completely transformed and has become a fun destination. Downtown is still in transition but this is an attractive start to bringing folks in. It was a perfect time of day to go in my viewpoint. The Sun was shining which  filled the space like a warm blanket of light and there was plenty of seating spaces to choose from in this immense space. You can imagine what it must be like at night. Wall to wall people but balls of fun.  There is a party being set up on the patio as well which was fun to watch and may have been an engagement party as most folks were dressed up and they had the area roped off for personal service. Makes you smile and feel enthusiastic for these folks.

I have romanticized about this place thus far and here is where I fall out of love and want change my relationship status on Facebook. Ugh, this is so disheartening but not discouraging.  What went wrong you ask? Service. I am pretty sure the poor service I received was from someone in Management which is more intolerable and insulting. Let me lay it out. I arrived at 4ish. Ok, it’s in between services, I get it. I saddled up to the re-purposed polished wood bar, soaked in the surroundings and ordered my Bloody Mary. With a gleam in the eye and hands rubbing together with excitement.  I imagined a dynamic experience to be delivered to be complemented with the atmosphere. Then, it was like going over the bridge in “Inception” as the Bar Manager tells me they stopped serving Bloody Mary’s at 3pm as it was just a part of their Brunch with Bottomless Mimosa’s. Record skips. Mind confused. Shaking head. What did you say? A Bloody Mary can’t be made because you stopped making them an hour ago? And then he told me he wasn’t sure there is any mix left because it is made to order. You are not alone if you are having trouble understanding. Now, the Bartender does save the day as he runs over and tells the Manager that there is always some in the back. “would you like that?” Let me think about that. Once we have confirmed a Bloody can be made with the leftover mix (as making one from scratch is so out of sight) I am then told that they can only make the Mary without all of the fixings. Again, really? I am so annoyed. I may not have experience in the restaurant business but how hard is it to do this “inconceivable” Bloody Mary? What did I miss out on that could not be provided after 3pm. A Pearl Onion, Bacon, Olives, Spicy Green Bean, a slice of Tomato. (Obviously, they were locked away).  What did I get? An unsalted rim Mason Jar that contains an overly Horseradish seasoned yet no other real seasonings Bloody Mary mix with fancy Vodka (Belvedere). Oh. And a slice of Lemon and Lime. That’s it kids. WOW! Thanks for the effort. I ended up despising this experience and went to the darkside of annoyance. I silently finished my lack luster drink that I actually asked for more spice as I asked for it to be spicy. (Siracha was all that was offered). Then when I tried to leave these confines I found more delays. I actually had to ask twice for the bill that was $10…$2 discount for the non-brunch Bloody Mary. Really? Two bones off?

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Just, so …….ugh. What a God Damn shame. I bet this place is epic if it weren’t for this poor service. I am really easy going but when service is lacking it can ruin my palette and tolerance. It is a shame that this is what I walked away with. What a bummer, dude. I am not saying I won’t try it again but that was no way to make a first impression.

I will not make this the last post on this place. I will be back as I do want to try the food and see if they can redeem themselves. That mix needs help and shouldn’t be disguised as great with a lot of accouterments.

Please, SP2 IBegU 2 B-GR8.

Until next time……….The one that got away…..

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An Upscale Garage: San Pedro Market-The Garage

Finally, there is a true BYOBMB in Silicon Valley. Welcome to the San Pedro Market.

Garage Bar San Pedro Square

Garage Bar San Pedro Square

http://www.yelp.com/biz/garage-bar-san-jose

San Jose has been lacking when it comes to destination places on the weekend. The San Pedro Market is a new addition to the downtown landscape. Are you looking for a foodie destination with a plethora of choices? This is where you will be satisfied. From Duck Carnitas Tacos, fashionable Beer choices (and I do not mean the designer ones), to sweets to satiate you to oysters and Asian delights. I am missing a few but this is my first time. I read that The Garage was a destination on a Sunday for their Bloody Mary Bar and live music. It has enough for you to explore here. I was really excited to stroll through and can only imagine how it would be on a warm Summer day.

The Garage is in the front corner of the plot of land and is a small bar in an open seating market. They tout some great brews and on a Sunday a BYOBMB filled with many garnishes and spicy sauces. They make their own mix which is infused with Cucumber bits which adds to a refreshing Tomato mix. The Bartender is friendly and guides you through the selections and solicits what kind of spice level you wish to enjoy. The garnishes are aplenty. The staples are a Celery stalk, a large Cucumber slice, Pearl Onion and a Grape Tomato. Now, onto your choices: Cornichon stuffed Olive, Bleu Cheese stuffed Olive, Thai Chili stuffed Olive, Garlic stuffed Olive, Jalapeno stuffed Olive, Chili spiced pickled Green Bean and pickled Asparagus. Pick your rim….Celery Salt or Salt Pepper Mix.

Plenty o' Garnishes

Plenty o’ Garnishes

 

Spice level? Pick you poison! Blair’s After Death, Dave’s Scorpion Pepper, Dave’s Ghost Pepper, Dave’s Insanity Sauce, something called Double E which I cannot find, there was a hot Pig sauce I cannot recall, Picka Pepper sauce, Slap Yo Mamma (my favorite!), Cholula, Worcestershire and a Hawaiian BBQ Sauce.

Spice Delight at the Garage

Spice Delight at The Garage

I opted for the traditional and asked for it to be kicked up a notch which brought me up the ladder to the Scorpion. Which at first, I reacted with “what is the big deal” and then the whiplash came around as I sipped on and I realized that small dose that was added was quite enough. Not too overwhelming but one of those that made you go “boom” as you drank on. Love me some spicy for sure. I really liked their addition of the diced Cucumber as it balances the drink/spice  and gives you an added flavor of freshness. I only wish it was one BYOBM I could control as I like to play with new flavors but this was a controlled environment. The price was also a drawback. $10? It was a well drink call. Still, I don’t see why there is such a markup. I get it. It is a lot of garnishes to pay for but still. I have seen prices much more reasonable all over the country but my backyard. Not all of us work for Apple or Google.

The Garage Bloody Mary

The Garage Bloody Mary

Overall, I would so recommend it even with the objection to price. You can get $4 Mimosas and have some fabulous food choices. And I love the fact there is live entertainment. I think this may be a new dawn in San Jose as, finally, there are some great food and drink choices downtown that have been absent for a long time. Maybe there is a change a coming.