Hard water whiskey bar and restaurant

by foodhoe on January 13, 2014

Pier 3, San Francisco, CA 94109| 415.392.3021 | Website


Sorry for the confusion but this was reposted due to a synchronization issue with my new host…  A while back I met friends Ben who writes focus:snap:eat and Christina of East Bay Dish, for dinner in the city. We chose Hard Water, which is a collaboration between local restaurateur Charles Phan (Slanted Door, Out the Door, the Moss Room and Academy Cafe, and South in SF JAZZ) and designer Olle Lundberg, to create a dramatic award winning space, very sleek and modern, along the burgeoning row of restaurants along the waterfront. The menu features New Orleans-inspired food and drinks, with a whiskey menu that is two pages long, including tastes of rare allocated and out-of-production bourbons and ryes. Bourbon is the main ingredient used in many signature cocktails ($10) crafted by drinksmith Erik Adkins, and the whiskeys are showcased on a 20-foot backlit wall with a sliding ladder for the bartenders to reach the highest ones.


I got there early and chose a window seat along a narrow marble counter, because of the lovely natural light (better for photos) and the kickass view. We sat with our backs to the barscene, and enjoyed watching the sunset while we checked out the food. In a place like this, it is a shame that I can’t drink hard liquor, (every time I have tried it, I enjoy the feeling of fireworks going off in my head which quickly degenerates to where I just want to curl up in a ball and die… ) but instead I sipped a glass of red wine.


This is Christina’s Dixie Cocktail ($10), a New Orleans classic (circa 1917) made with Old Forester bonded bourbon, gum syrup, curacao, with dashes of Angostura bitters and creme de menthe served on a hand cut ice cube with lemon peel. Ben had the the Roffignac Cocktail ($10), which was popular in the New Orleans in the 1890s made with Rittenhouse 100 rye, lemon, grapefruit, German raspberry-vinegar syrup, and soda.


Baked Oysters ($22 for half dozen) – de maison: bacon, old grandad bourbon, citrus; bienville: wild mushrooms, cream, breadcrumbs, saint charles: drawn butter, cayenne, shallot and parsley. I’m particular about bivalves and must say that the oysters were cooked beyond my preferred state of plump and juicy, a bit rubbery and overwhelmed by the sauces. I definitely prefer my oysters raw…


We shared the Chicken Liver Pâté, bone marrow, pickles, rosemary toast ($15), which provided only four tiny crackers for us to sample the chunky pâté and delectable marrow…

Ben ordered the Braised Rabbit with buttermilk dumplings, sage ($22) the tender meat was pulled from the bone, mixed in a rich savory sauce with chunks of potatoes and carrots that reminded me of Thanksgiving and I loved it. A big bowl of soothing comforting tastes and soft pillowy textures.


Christina and I shared the Seafood Gumbo, andouille sausage, peppers and rice ($24), it was thick and not very soupy, I found it was just all right and wished we had ordered the fried chicken…


and vinegary Collard Greens ($8) would I’m sure would have been better with fried chicken too…


Our cozy little counter space was crowded with food and drinks


Christina and I had a little bit of room left for dessert, and went for the Blackberry fried pies ($8), which were bland and would have been improved with a scoop of ice cream.


I had one of those meals where I wasn’t impressed with what I ordered, but I want to come back for a fried food frenzy: the pork belly cracklings, the crispy milk-braised celery hearts, and of course the famous fried chicken which was the dish that started it all. Here’s a panoramic shot of the historic building along the Embarcadero and the view.


p.s. The sign is made from charred barrels that the whiskey is aged in and the restaurant gets its name from the high mineral content of Kentucky’s streams.


Hard Water on Urbanspoon

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa January 15, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Gorgeous food! I particularly like the braised rabbit and gumbo.




hungry dog January 15, 2014 at 1:31 pm

I haven’t heard of this place–sounds worth checking out even though you didn’t give it a rave review. The rabbit looked especially good. But I agree, the pies need ice cream (all pies do).


Ben @Focus:Snap:Eat January 15, 2014 at 9:08 pm

Deja vu!


Shikha @ Shikha la mode January 20, 2014 at 11:06 am

I loved this place when I ate here – next time try their Sazerac, it’s the best I’ve ever had!


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