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New Orleans Meets SF at Charles Phan's Hard Water

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[Photos: Nathan Ziebell]

No one can accuse Charles Phan of having good luck with plumbing. After flooding sent Out the Door packing from the Westfield mall and put Heaven's Dog in a state of suspended animation (which has continued since November, with no end in sight), a burst water main shuttered his new whiskey-centric gastropub, Hard Water, during its opening night on Friday. Our photographer stopped in for a few shots on Friday afternoon, before the incident took place; Phan's team has confirmed they're re-opening tonight.

Themed around the same New Orleans vibe as Phan's other recent project, South at SFJAZZ, the spot features a limited menu from Hog Island Oyster Co. alum Melissa Perfit, with a heavy emphasis on raw-bar items like oysters ($36/dozen), wild Gulf shrimp ($22 for six), and cracked crab ($26/half). Mains ($17-24) include fried chicken, okra etouffee, seafood gumbo, and braised rabbit, and there are a handful of appetizers and desserts. See the full menu here. (Though they're conceptually similar, the overlap with South's menu is quite minimal; go here to compare 'em.)

Drinks are the main event at Hard Water, with Phan's go-to barman Erik Adkins providing the 150+ bottle selection of old and rare American whiskeys that fill the back bar (only some of which will be available for drinking). The pared-down cocktail menu (all $10) includes takes on an old-fashioned (with curacao and creme de menthe) and a Sazerac (with rye, Carpano Antica, and Benedictine), as well as a classic mint julep. All the beers are from Louisiana's own Abita Brewing, and there's a small but well-curated selection of natural wines.

The ever-loyal Phan again enlisted designer Olle Lundberg for the space. However, Lundberg is also a partner in the restaurant this go-round, and provided a brief mission statement on its website. The space is tiny, seating only 37 souls at the bar and counters, though Phan plans to add a few more outdoor tables along the Embarcadero, as well as a lunchtime takeout window. It's a minimalist design, centered around a huge light fixture made from a barnacle-encrusted buoy. Opening hours are currently 5:30-10:30 pm daily, with lunch coming soon.

· Hard Water Coming to the Embarcadero [~ ESF ~]
· Hard Water [Official website]

Hard Water

Pier 3, San Francisco, CA 94105 415-392-3021