I originally wrote this review 2 weeks after the opening of clock bar (a hot new spot with fancy cocktails!? Of course I was eager to try!), and since have been back twice - mainly because of its convenient location and fairly extensive cocktail menu. Unfortunately however, my original comments have applied to every experience I've had here, so I'm not inclined to do much editing.
First, the bad. Hey bartenders! Loosen up. I'll even buy you a drink if it helps. I know it's a Michael Mina establishment and everyone is probably expecting greatness, but that doesn't mean you can't crack a smile or try to be somewhat relatable to your customers. I'm not a 50 year old businessman who drinks whiskey and wants to be left alone, and my attitude/demeanor should give that way - a very good, not-too-busy bartender probably would've picked up on that. I understand the fact that this is a classier, more professional bar, but feel out your audience! Bottom line, in my experience the staff here has been a bit too stiff. Not uptight or snobby at all, they just need to chill out a bit.
For example, there were no seats at the bar when my friend and I showed up, so we sat at a table and ordered drinks in the meantime. Before the drinks came, we were able to move to the bar, and explained we had already ordered. We weren't greeted with a smile or a "oh no problem" but a sort of short "oh you ordered from the dining room?" Yes, obviously. We just moved 2 feet, and you sa us sitting there. It's not a big deal, so don't get cold on us because we're switching the tab.
On the flip side, with professional service like this, you can guarantee the servers/bartenders will be very attentive. And most importantly, the drinks were very delicious. So delicious that I may or may not have ordered upwards of 4 on my first visit because they were so good...I'll never tell. What I will say is I spent a fair amount of money, as these aren't the cheapest drinks in town - but hey, you get what you pay for, and these babies make me forget I'm drinking hard liquor (read: they are dangerous). Be warned that they take awhile to make, but that's because a lot of work goes into each one, so be patient.
As far as the food, I'm not going to lie, I expected greatness (Michael Mina is one of my favorite restaurants in SF) and was fairly let down. I ordered the tuna tartare, a specialty of Michael Mina, and there was simply too much sesame oil compared to fish. I mean, I think if the serving size was larger it would've been more balanced, but the sesame was a bit overwhelming and was the only flavor that was left in my mouth after I was finished. This wasn't a necessary part of my experience.
Finally, what is the point of having a chair with a tiny little back!!!!? It is the MOST UNCOMFORTABLE furniture you could possibly think of. I want a back. I want to lean on the back of a chair. And if you're not going to provide me with this, make the chair high enough so I can cross my legs and balance. Luckily, the bar stools were very comfortable and the little foot rest was in the perfect position, so I didn't knock off a star for silly decor.
Overall, I'm 23 and this isn't exactly my scene. In other words, I wouldn't really call this my destination for the night. But, if you just want a fancy cocktail before heading out, want a relatively quiet place to catch up with a friend, or need a spot to grab a drink while waiting for someone, this is certainly a solid choice in the Union Square area.
335 Powell Street
San Francisco, CA