The Latest: British-Influenced Phan

Veggie spread at the Coachman kitchen bar

Veggie spread at the Coachman kitchen bar

BRITSH-Influenced PHAN

Photos and article by Virginia Miller

THE COACHMAN, SoMa (1148 Mission St. between 7th & 8th, 415-831-1701)

Heidelberg Cup

Heidelberg Cup No. 9

British-influenced food from Chef-de-Cuisine Ross Wunderlich (formerly at Bar Tartine, SPQR, A16)? Cocktails from one of the country’s great bar directors, Erik Adkins, and Bar Manager John Codd? Cocktail destination Heaven’s Dog closed and converted into a new restaurant and bar called The Coachman? All under master chef/owner Charles Phan? All this drew me to Coachman three times in the first two weeks alone. And each visit was a pleasure.


Wall-E-Bear: Aniversario Pampero Rum, Fino Sherry, Negroni reduction, Yellow Chartreuse

Maybe even more so than Heaven’s Dog, which still churned out gratifying late night dim sum and excellent cocktails, but could be criticized for being pricier than the endless affordable dim sum options around.

The Coachman’s food is possibly more realized and cocktails are as strong as ever. Pickled sardines ($10) co-mingle with hedgehog mushrooms and beets, while blood sausage ($19) falls apart with juicy, rosy, spiced glory. Slices of tender prime rib ($30), dribbled with jus and accompanied by Yorkshire pudding plus a side of creamed spinach or mash ($5), results in a deliciously hearty dinner.

Robert Burns' Hunting Flask: Redbreast 12yr Irish whiskey, currants, ginger, lemon peel, served in a hunting flask - traditional Scottish Highlands recipe

Robert Burns’ Hunting Flask: Redbreast 12yr Irish whiskey, currants, ginger, lemon peel, served in a flask, Erik Adkins’ version of a traditional Scottish Highlands recipe

Beef tartare & smelts

Beef tartare & smelts

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Cocktails ($11) are the showstopper here, though cask conditioned ales, beers and the French and German-centric wine list are no afterthought. Also, keep your eyes out for bartending master Erik Ellestad’s lovely, dry ginger beer which he’s fermenting champenoise-style (Champagne method) in the bottle. Cocktails are reinvented, rare classics from the Georgian through Victorian eras, while the back bar stocks a wealth of rum, sherry, and Scotch selections.

Antique Sour

Antique Sour

After trying the entire initial cocktail menu, there are a number of standouts, the first being a surprising combination of wine and genever. It’s actually a genius combination: bartender Keli Rivers played with Heidelberg Cup No. 9, an 1869 recipe from Cooling Cups & Dainty Drinks to get the elements just right. Diep 9 Belgian Genever, a house lemon cordial and Nahe Austrian Riesling combine over crushed ice for a dry, malty, stimulating drink, like a Cobbler cocktail born in Austria and Belgium.

Erik - California Milk Punch: Osocalis brandy, Appleton V/X Jamaican rum, Batavia Arrack, clarified milk, spiced syrup from Jerry Thomas' Bartenders Guide: How to Mix Drinks 1862

A well-executed California Milk Punch: Osocalis brandy, Appleton V/X Jamaican rum, Batavia Arrack, clarified milk and spiced syrup adapted by Erik Ellestad from Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide: How to Mix Drinks 1862

Potted crab

Potted crab

An Antique Sour is one of the most balanced and lovely cocktails: Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, Pur Geist Beer Schnaps/bierbrand and lemon hit with flavorful punch, softened by egg white.

Ellestad’s Atholl Brose, a modern interpretation of a traditional Scottish Highlands cocktail, is my ideal dessert… or breakfast: Straus organic milk is infused with toasted oats, combined with whisky, honey, and dash of coffee.

Part owner Olle Lundberg’s Lundberg Design has left their mark on many SF spaces, and this redesigned restaurant opens up in the back at the end of the bar, dramatically lit by a “honey wall” of 76 panels filled with California-sourced honeys in varying shades, changing with light and heat (you might recognize the panels from Phan’s first Out the Door in Westfield Mall).

Though I had a soft spot for Heaven’s Dog, The Coachman feels more holistic. It’s already a necessary stop for the cocktail lover in the ‘hood, that thankfully also serves a great bite.

Cider cup a la Ensor (Cooling Cups & Dainty Drinks, 1869): Osocalis brandy, cider, Pur Pear, cucumber, pineapple, lemon

Cider cup a la Ensor (from Cooling Cups & Dainty Drinks, 1869): Osocalis brandy, cider, Pur Pear eau de vie, cucumber, pineapple, lemon