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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Swanky Evening at Union Square's Vessel Ultra Lounge

It was an evening of contrasts from a hot dog shop to one of San Francisco's most elegant Ultra Lounges.

I just attended a Martini Madness event in July and last night I attended another! Host Duncan Reyes jump started August with a revisit to Vessel SF, an ultra lounge just a half block north of Union Square in downtown San Francisco.

I carpooled with my networking buddy and foodie friend Carl Mindling. Our usual plan is to head up early before the rush hour starts and grab a quick dinner before heading to the party.

Last night we continued on our "Cheap Eats" theme from last month's food tour and headed to Let's Be Frank in the Marina District.

I first heard about Let's Be Frank in an SF Gate article in May 2010 but it took Carl reading recently about them in an in-flight magazine to get us there to try them out. They have an SF storefront, hot dog carts in SF and LA and an LA trailer! They also have a vegetarian option called a "Not" Dog.

The space is definitely eye catching as you stroll by.

Their eye catching branding is super cute. Bright red, yellow and blue are a cheery and playful color combo that complement their little wiener dog logo perfectly!

Their storefront on Steiner Street is small with three cafe tables on the front patio and two small counters and chairs inside.

The menu includes:

Frank Dog - 100% grass-fed beef
Brat Dog - family-farmed pork sausage
Hot Dog - spicy, family-farmed pork sausage
Bird Dog - family-farmed, pasture-raised turkey
Not Dog - vegetarian, Italian-style sausage

A sign over the counter says: No Nitrites, Nitrates, Hormones or Antibiotics. (YAY!)

Their side items include chili, coleslaw and chips. We didn't try the chili but Carl ordered the slaw which, imho, was kind of lackluster. I think a better recipe could really turn the slaw into a hot menu item but for now I'd recommend passing on it and ordering chips as a side and a cookie for dessert instead.

There's a special house "Devil Sauce" but it was too spicy for me.

I ordered a "Not" Dog with grilled onions and cheese. To be honest the onions were a bit problematic I guess because I wasn't scarfing down the dog down as zealously as is required to bite through them. I ended up with part of the onion in my mouth and the other end swaying in the breeze hanging out of my mouth after biting into my dog. Three times. LOL.

I did add ketchup, mustard and relish which convinced me I'm just a classic kind of hot dog girl. The next time I drop by Let's Be Frank I'll be ordering a plain "Not" Dog and loading it up with the classic toppings myself.

The dog itself was really tasty. I enjoyed it a lot! It's not trying to replicate a beef hot dog. Instead it's an italian sausage style that has great flavor and a really nice kind of chunky-meaty texture to it.

Prices are a bit high for a hot dog but if you consider the dogs are made to be good for the ranchers, the environment and you I can deal with the price no problem.

I especially appreciated that all of the waste from my meal (paper and corn starch based plastics) were compostable.

Let's Be Frank uses Acme Rolls

For most people I think you'd need to order two dogs for a really filling meal which can be a bit pricey at $4.95 per dog. Or you can order one dog and get a Bi-Rite Creamery ice cream sandwich ($4.50) or a Bi-Rite Cookie ($1.00) for dessert which we skipped because it was time to head over to Vessel.

This photo by David Ethridge of AVR Films

A fab shot of "Marilyn Monroe" who arrived to sing Happy Birthday to our gracious host Duncan Reyes.

Vessel SF Ultra Lounge

Can you say modern and swanky? As you enter on the street level you turn to your right and head down a flight of stairs. From the top of the stairs you can see two lounge areas, one to your left, the other straight ahead. . .

To your right is the bar with plenty of room to mingle.

Vessel is a perfect venue for dancing, relaxed lounging, private parties and corporate events. The venue has an award winning sound system, the bar and table service, state of the art lighting and world class DJ's if you don't have one of your own. Check out the About page on their website by CLICKING HERE.

As always, we arrived just as the party was getting started so I was able to get some nice shots of the space before it got too crowded.

The Lit Bar

This photo by Carl Mindling

That's me and DJ Jason Mitchell who was the DJ last night. I have to thank Carl for grabbing this shot of us at the end of the evening. It was a reach and stretch for him to hold his camera over the top of the DJ booth. He did a great job!

Another photo by David Ethridge

You can see I was having a really great time chatting with Veronica Weber Seitchick and  Connie Moore.

OMC. Oh My Cupcake! Jen's cakes went all out providing tiers and tiers of cupcakes for guests to enjoy...

I was so excited to eat mine I started taking the wrapper off and almost forgot to take a picture of it! The chocolate cake was sooooooooo light and moist and the mocha flavor and sugary sweetness of the frosting were perfectly balanced. I swear I could have eaten two or three but I maintained an iota of self control and stopped at one.

The entrance of Vessel is on Campton Place

*Sigh* At some point all good things have to come to an end. It was another (as always) really fabulous event. Thanks so much Duncan, you really know how to throw a party and I hope you have a great day on your Birthday!

I should have also added in that my room photos at Vessel and the cupcake tier photo were taken using my new GF2 camera and my friend Ken Edding's Lumix 1:4/7-14 ASPH wide zoom lens. Thanks to Ken for letting me try your lens out! And the Frankly Dog's pictures and remaining Vessel images were taken with my Lumix LX3.

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