Review: Pinewood Social http://pinewoodsocial.com
Co-worker Vince and I needed a break from so much work, so we left at 5:15 PM (so early!) last night and went to check out the new Pinewood Social in the Rutledge Hill area. Reading the Yelp reviews, people either really liked it or hated it, so we weren't sure what to expect.
Since we got there so early, we didn't have to worry about waiting, though the front desk (“INFO”) was less than overly welcoming. One gal was on the phone, the second said, “Hello”, but then nothing and the third took her sweet time in greeting us. An immediate minus.
We said we wanted drinks and probably some food (versus being there specifically for dinner), so eventually we were taken to two seats at the bar. The guy who took us there was MUCH more friendly than any of the three gals at the INFO desk. Thing were looking up.
The bar is in the middle of the room and is quite large and square with seating around 3 sides of the square. The drink list is lengthy and interesting. This is a cocktail place so if you plan on drinking beer, you'll be disappointed (but then, there are lots of places with very excellent beer lists). The first bartender who waited on us was pretty matter of fact and didn't offer much in the way of suggestions and went off and made our drinks, which were good, albeit pricey $12 per drink).
But then bartender Lee took over and things were very much on the upswing! Lee asked if we wanted to order food and the two ladies sitting kitty-corner from us had suggested the fried broccoli appetizer, so we ordered that and cheeseburgers. The broccoli was amazing! Next time I would order that for myself and not share. The broccoli florets are flash-fried (not deep-fried) and then lemon zest and sea salt are sprinkled on it and they come with a dipping sauce, but really, you don't need that. $6 for the broccoli.
The cheeseburgers ($13) come as two thin patties with cheese, lettuce, onion, pickle, mayo and mustard and the bun was pretty good too. This comes with home fries and a little cup of cornichons. I couldn't finish it all, leaving some of the home fries and about a quarter of the burger. I'd get it again for sure.
We got chatting with Lee, who is from Charleston and went to The Citadel, and we let him make our second drink, whatever he wanted, after us telling him what we do and don't like. I have no idea what I had except that it was not sweet (my request) and had mint and ginger syrup in it. Vince liked both of his drinks. They make all of their syrups and everything they use in-house and it was fun to watch the guy making different syrups during the evening. And with the “gatekeepers” at the front door, you don't have people walking in and standing at the bar. This is actually one big gripe in the Yelp reviews.
There are also a number of banquets along the windows and tables were you can have dinner, then there are the couches and small tables and chairs like someone's living room. And a long raised table where people were working on their computers. I'd like to go back with a group and get one of the two private rooms, or, get a group and hit the old time bowling alley. There are 6 lanes in the back with retro bowling lanes and equipment, but at $40 per hour, you need a group!
One thing we did note is that except for Lee and one other busboy, every single bartender and waiter had dark hair and facial hair. Not that I'm complaining! That is definitely my favorite look!! And the crowd was quite eclectic – a few grey-haired patrons, preppy types, some hipsters, tourists, downtown workers, pretty much a little of everything.
Pinewood Social is open all day, with breakfast, lunch and dinner. The breakfast menu looks good so I'll check that out. When we left at 8:30 PM, there were probably 20 people waiting in the front, but they all had drinks in their hands, so the other major complaint on Yelp of not being able to get a drink while you wait seems to be fixed. The other big minus in the Yelp reviews was on the food, but our broccoli and cheeseburgers and fries were very good, so maybe the kitchen has improved. I'll definitely go back, but it won't be a regular thing since I'm not so keen on dropping $50 a whack. It's San Francisco prices for sure!
One thing that Vince and I talked about is that if all these new places had been here in November 2011 when we came on the “recruiting” visit (and if they had taken us to them), then it wouldn't have been such a cultural shock to move. In the past year, the bar and restaurant scene here has exploded, which is a very good thing.
And if you're wondering, did I skip my 500 words for the past couple of days, rest assured that I did not. I wrote +500 words Thursday and Friday, just not for public review. So I'm 11 for 11 on this goal.