The Tipsy Pig
2231 Chestnut Street, San Francisco CA 94123 (map); 415-292-2300, thetipsypigsf.com
Cooking Method: Buttered and cooked on the flat top
Short Order: A flavorful, if unevenly cooked burger is a nice example of a gastropub staple; sharp cheese, sweet caramelized onions, and farm-fresh toppings are an added bonus.
Want Fries with That? Classic fries are good; the sweet potato fries are better.
Price: The Tipsy Burger (w/fries), $13; + bacon or a fried egg, $2; + avocado, goat cheese, blue cheese, or smoked cheddar, $1
Notes: Half priced burgers from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
I find it surprising that we don't have more "gastropubs" in San Francisco. I mean, we love drinking, we have London-comparable weather, and we really love good food. All of these things strike me as components of a gastropub-friendly city—not to mention the almost rabid affection for a good burger around these parts.
While we may not have a large number of spots that fit neatly into the gastropub category, The Tipsy Pig on Chestnut does so admirably, and with relish. Cozy, dark-wood booths, mac 'n cheese in a skillet, drinks in mason jars—a gastropub, to be certain, but one with a decided San Francisco flair (that heated back patio, for instance, is a real winner).
The Tipsy Burger ($13) is up to snuff as well. Seven ounces of pre-ground, Kobe-style beef from Niman Ranch are topped with a pile of caramelized onions and sharp white cheddar, and served on an Acme pain de mie bun.
A cut into the burger led to a modest gush of juice—a promising sign, especially as it revealed a gorgeous, ruby-hued interior. Well, ruby on one side, anyway—the burger appeared somewhat rare on the left, and a little past medium rare on the right. This wasn't ideal, nor was the burger's texture: It appeared to be far too tightly packed. Maybe it averaged out to medium rare in my mouth, but the uneven cooking didn't majorly effect the overall taste, and while I slightly missed the texture of a looser grind, ultimately, the burger's flavor won me over.
Incredibly well salted and beefy, the burger is seasoned with salt, black and white peppers, and onion and garlic powders. But what really gives this burger edge is the pat of butter placed on the beef immediately before it hits the flat top. In addition to being responsible for some of that first-cut-gush of juice, it lends a wonderful richness to the burger without taking away from the deep flavor of the beef. What's more, it helps the burger achieve a truly beautiful crust, which makes up for any textural deficiencies of the grind.
The sharp cheddar and sweet onions were nice accompaniments, distinctive and well-matched in their own right, and nicely paired with the meat. Little Gem lettuce and tomato slices were fresh and flavorful, as well—apparently the tomatoes are entirely dependent on the season, and come from Oak Hill Farms in Sonoma.
You get your choice of fries, sweet potato fries, or a side salad with the burger—go for the sweet potato fries. The regular french fries are perfectly fine; nicely salted and simple, they're reminiscent of McDonald's fries, and are equally addictive. But the sweet potato fries are stand-out. Incredibly crisp and with a creamy-sweet interior, they'd be even better with a shake of hot sauce.
The accompanying dish of pickle-studded Thousand Island is a nice burger topping and well suited for both fry-types, but I think I'll put in a request for some good pungent mustard next time. That seems like gastropub-appropriate behavior to me.