OK, I’m not exactly a model suburanite and when I go to Pleasanton for dinner, outside of a couple of places, I don’t expect to find much in the way of beer, except maybe Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada, which have (thankfully) become ubiquitous in the San Francisco Bay Area. So how about this: Saturday night, trying out a brand new restaurant, Eddie Papa’s American Hangout, 4889 Hopyard Road in Pleasanton and I was able to order a glass of Firestone Walker Union Jack on tap. Whew. This beer is the new 8 percent, 70 IBU India Pale Ale from Firestone Walker. I’m writing about it in my column this Wednesday. What a beer to have on tap.
Besides Union Jack, they had Anchor Steam, Pabst Blue Ribbon and EJ Phair American Wheat on tap. In bottles, there’s a long list, including Ommegang Hennepin, Anderson Valley Oatmeal Stout, Mendocino Red Tail Ale, Trumer Pils, Deschutes Mirror Pond Ale, Bear Republic Racer 5, Moylan’s Hopsickle, New Belgium 1554 Black Ale, Laguinitas Censored and Black Diamond Blonde Ale.
The only light beer is Sam Adams Light.
The restaurant is near the entrance to the gigantic Hacienda Business Park. It was last some kind of chain seafood restaurant that went belly-up. The two partners are Neil Marquis, formerly the chef at the Pleasanton Hotel, and Edward Westmoreland. Their idea is a restaurant with a reasonably priced menu featuring many American classics like Southern Fried Chicken, $13; Fisherman’s Wharf Crab Bisque, $8.50 for a bowl; Classic Wedge, $8, enree size, $11, Wisconsin Sausage Platter, $13, and New York Delmonico Steak, $26, to list a few.
It’s a spacious, airy place, hanging paper lanterns, white table cloths, utterly un-chain-like, except for the view of a parking lot — drapes to come, I’m guessing.
Full disclosure here. Neil and Edward asked me (along with many others, I’m sure) for input on the beer list. So some of the beers on the list are my suggestions and no doubt others as well. My wife and I were their guests along with at least 100 other people for a “staff training” night on Saturday.
The restaurant opens today.
My favorite line of the night, an older guy, Norman Daniels, of Pleasanton, sitting near us, ordered Bud Light. Told they didn’t have it, he settled for Union Jack. So I walked over and asked him how it was. He liked it, he said with a smile. He was also shocked when I told him it was 8 percent, much stronger (and tastier) than a 5 percent Bud Light.
Trying to get a photo for the blog, I found a nice looking family at a corner table. They were drinking wine, well, the adults were. Talking to them, I found out why. They were drinking their own wine. Michael Katz makes wine commercially in Pleasanton with grapes from the Livermore Valley. Michael and his wife, Alicia, were drinking their own Cabernet. They’re excused.
About the beer. Frankly, the restaurant biz is tough and competitive and my only connection was as a dishwasher in several restaurants and as a frycook in one (Hamburger Haven, Virginia Beach, VA.) when I was a kid. Other restaurant people have asked me for input on beer, but I’ve rarely seen my suggestions followed. What the hell, Bud Light sells, doesn’t it. But Neil had been doing beer dinners at the Pleasanton Hotel for a couple of years and he likes and cares about beer, obviously.
The food was excellent. I ordered the Southern Fried Chicken (my mom’s from Texas), which came with a Deep South and a Bay Area twist: Boneless chicken breast, breaded, deep-fried, covered in gravy (That’s Deep South, not West Texas). Done perfectly, although boneless chicken was a bit shocking to me. It was Petaluma free range chicken and came with Neil’s trademark mashed potatoes, which I, unfortuantely know, are literally infused with butter. Damn good.
My wife, a Chicago native, ordered the Wedge, a large wedge of “iceberg lettuce with apple wood bacon, dried cherries, toasted almonds, slivered red onions, Maytag Blue crumbles and San Francisco’s Green Goddess dressing.” She also raved about the original softdrinks, which included her childhood favor, Green River. They also had Bubble Up and Orange Crush.
Photos: Top, interior view of the new restaurant. Middle, The Katz Famil, Mitchel and Alicia Katz with sons Scott, Jackson and Wesley. Michael makes wine commercially in Pleasanton with grapes from the Livermore Valley, naturally. Below: My glass of Firestone Walker Union Jack, fresh from the tap.