The San Francisco Diet

Bar Star Brian MacGregor Likes a Good Slider, and Occasionally a Cocktail With Lunch

Photo: Stephanie Im/KQED

For this week’s edition of the San Francisco Diet, we turn to a member of S.F.’s cocktail elite: Brian MacGregor, currently the bar manager at Jardinière and soon to become the bar director at Locanda, Craig Stoll’s new venture in the former Ramblas space. Tell us how you fill your belly over the course of a week, Brian.

Before I write this out I have to make one thing clear, as a bartender I do not live like other people live. I work long hours like the rest of the world does in this day and age, but the hours are skewed by the nature of my work. My 9 a.m. is more like 2 p.m., and it doesn’t end ‘til midnight if I am lucky, or closer to 2 a.m. when I am not so lucky.

All that being said, I am extremely fortunate to work in one of San Francisco’s finest restaurant, Jardinière, as their bar manager, and of the many perks is that I am allowed a meal at the end of the night from that evening’s menu. So you will see a great many meals mentioned that are dishes from Jardinière. The rest is just food that I’ve prepared for myself.

Thursday, August 19

Breakfast was a bagel and cream cheese. Carey, my girlfriend (remember that name, and oh yeah she’s a vegetarian), and I were at the tail end of a road trip and were staying with some friends in Mariposa (outside of Yoesemite) and while waiting for them to return from their morning meetings we had a little snack while packing up the car.

Lunch was a turkey, bacon, and brie sandwich at Butterfly Café in Mariposa – a delightful sandwich served on an Italian roll. Hearty and filling, perfect for a long drive back to the city.

For dinner we had Patxi’s deep dish pizza with sausage, mushroom, onion, and green pepper. After a long drive home I had to go straight to Jardinière to work and put the bar back together after a four-day closure. There were three of us there working on it and nothing is more satisfying than a cold beer and a slice of pie in the middle of a hard, labor-filled evening.

9:30 p.m.: A glass of Highland Park 18-year-old single malt Scotch and a small bowl of popcorn while watching a movie with Carey.

Friday, August 20

Skipped breakfast after sleeping in too late, so went to the gym, came home, and had some strawberry yogurt, then ran off to work to finish putting the bar back together for service on Friday night. Ate family meal (this is a buffet style meal that the kitchen prepares for the staff to eat every day at 4 p.m.) which today consisted of chicken with red beans and a green salad. Simple and tasty.

After work, heirloom tomato salad with padron peppers, and burrata cheese: this is what summer in San Francisco is all about. Bright flavors with rich textures.

Saturday, August 21

Had veggie chilaquiles at Chow with Carey and a glass of OJ. A fantastic and filling dish to start the day.

Family meal consisted of a short rib stew with green beans and rice.

Dinner was pancetta-wrapped Gulf shrimp with corn and peppers, which was fantastic. Our chef, Morgan Muller, really outdid him self with this one. It was rich and full of complex flavors and reminded me of how great summer cuisine is in SF.

Sunday, August 22

Brunch at Laszlo: fried eggs with golden potato and garlic hash. Amazing, rustic and fulfilling, with a side of what is the best bacon in the cit. I believe they cook it with brown sugar to give it some extra sweetness and make it a bit more crisp. If it was considered healthy I would eat this bacon every day. Washed down with one of the best Bloody Marys in the city made by Jill.

That night had pizza from Marcello’s, ordered in and shared with close friends while having drinks in the backyard. Sampled some rare whiskey and even rarer Chartreuse.

Monday, August 23

Woke up early to go do inventory and grabbed a sausage and egg muffin sandwich from The Sage Café, located next to Jardinière.

After counting bottles for a few hours, had staff meal which consisted of fresh cut watermelon, which was amazing on a this hot summer day, butter lettuce salad with salt and pepper vinagrette, and chilled roasted beets. Also some barbecued Hoffman Ranch chicken. One of the better staff meals we’ve had in a while.

After a grueling shift, Chef cooked up some halibut for me with some steamed veggies. Light yet fulfilling.

Tuesday, August 24

Carey made some great fried eggs on English muffins, with five year old sharp cheddar, along with a fresh squeezed grapefruit juice.

After walking to work in the formidable heat grabbed a peach out of the cooler and had a cold and juicy peach to snack on. A delicious mid day treat.

Staff meal was much like the day before, butter lettuce salad, whipped potatoes that just melted in my mouth, and roasted corn.

Dinner was chicken roulade on a bed of lettuces. (Sidenote: I never noticed how much chicken eat) and drank a Krounenbourg with dinner.

Wednesday August, 25

Skipped breakfast – never like to do this but sometimes it happens.

Made up for it by having a hearty lunch at Comstock Saloon in North Beach. Started off with a Bamboo Cocktail, a delicious blend of dry sherry, dry vermouth, and bitters gently stirred and served with a lemon twist. (Yes, I have been known to have a cocktail with lunch, and yes I am okay with that). First course was pickled eggs on rye toast with a bit of crispy bacon. Next was fried oysters and grilled shrimp cocktail – an old school all American classic. The main course was grilled trout with an avocado and pickled beer relish, served on a bed of russet potatoes, pickled onions, and corn. It was amazing, to say the least. A mug of Trumer ale accompanied the fish and was great on a rare, hot summer day here in S.F.

Family meal was a leafy green lettuce salad with a slice of homemade pizza that had cheese, squash and some corn.

For a manager’s meal I tried the brand new pastrami sliders with “stinky” cheese and caramelized onions. It struck a great balance between the pepper in the pastrami and the sweetness of the onions, and the pungent cheese. I may be biased, but the sliders at Jardinière are some of the best in the city.

After a long day of work came home and had a dram of Highland Park 18-year-old single malt while watching a movie with Carey.

Earlier: The Cooking Channel’s Aida Mollenkamp Is a Girl Who Can Really Eat [Grub Street]
Chris Kronner Loves Sebo Almost as Much as Ryan Farr’s Burgers [Grub Street]
Where Didn’t Michael Bauer Eat This Week? [Grub Street]

Bar Star Brian MacGregor Likes a Good Slider, and Occasionally a Cocktail With