“Mystery Meet brings together adventurous foodies for a night of social dining at the hottest restaurants. There’s only one catch…you don’t know where you’re going until 24 hours in advance!“
This was our first Mystery Meet ever and looked forward to the restaurant location unveiling after pontificating the clues. The location clues were 1. Dolores’ ‘hood. 2. Morrissey will probably want to skip this one. 3. The chef comes from an island. 4. The Mad Hatter’s Springtime companion. When Tuesday evening arrived, we met up with all our dining companions who all paid $39 for our meal, not including bevreages, at Beast and the Hare. The owners have stints at Hog Island Oyster Company and the restaurant is relatively new to the neighborhood, serving up New American fare. We immediately loved the restaurant’s vibe, open kitchen in the back, large wooden communal table in the center, peppered with seating on the sides of the deep blue indigo walls and windows. We all got to introducing ourselves and despite backgrounds in programming, software, public relations, education and design, our commonality was good eats! We sat down next to Jeff of San Francisco Foodies. Although he has an eye for design, he definitely is a very pursuasive salesperson, influencing the majority of the table to join the San Francisco Foodies Meetup Group he helps organize. While tasting the house charcuterie at $9 each / 3 for $18 / chef’s choice 5 for $25, Seth, the Founder of Mystery Meet, explained the origins of the group, which started in Boston two years ago and has now launched a San Francisco chapter. The coppa pork shoulder with smoked pimenton and garlic, Umbrian salami juniper, black peppercorn and pinor nero, Calabrian salami, Calabrian chili and dulce pimenton, Ciccioli whipped rabbit with toasted chili, orange and cocoa and Pate de campagne chicken livers, thyme, ginger, mustard and bulleit bourbon were all sublime. Well seasoned, aromatic and absolutely mouth watering. Our favorites were the Calbrian salami and pate with toast points. The charcuterie is a must get. The chicories salad ($10) had Castelfranco chicories, Early Girl tomatoes, avocado and fried chickpeas with green peppercorn vinaigrette.Quite frankly, the well seasoned, fried chickpeas was the most notable aspect of the salad, although fresh, the salad did not positively imprint itself into the memory as something to have to have again. What was truly special, and I was jealous I did not order it, was the Rabbit ragu with herb salsa and soft polenta for $18. This is the dish to make Beast and The Hare a destination. The tender rabbit meat, creamy polenta and herbal notes were spectacular. Everyone who ordered the rabbit was thrilled, and would order it again. We sampled the Pasta bucatini all Amitriciana, guianciale, san marzano tomatoes and pecorino for $16 was so so. Again, although perfectly cooked pasta and the sauce was fresh, there was something missing, be it a kick of spice, something offering a savory after taste, the pasta nothing to write home about. Another so so dish was the Merguez coils and dandelion greens with lemon aioli and levain toast for $12. The merguez had really nice spicy flavor, however the oily aftertaste made us pause. Although the greens were to offer a bitterness and the lemon aioli would offer a smooth bright flavor to cut the fattiness of the spicy sausage, the oiliness overpowered the balancing elements. Although we have had Cafe du Monde‘s beignets, the best beignets ever tasted, Beast and the Hare’s French Quarter biegnets with orange caramel were quite nice. The well sugar coated fried dough were chewy and were exponentially enjoyable with the thin caramel sauce $6. If one is craving fried dough, this finisher does satisfy, but make sure you dip the fat dough pieces in the sauce. Our service was really accommodating and knowledgable. There are so many solid restaurants in the Mission, however if we were in the neighborhood and wanted meat, we would return for the charcuterie, rabbit ragu and give the fried chicken and bone marrow a try. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting Seth, his brother-in-law and all the other diners. We had some fun poking fun of social media, various search engines, exchanging favorite baking cookbooks (Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller) and favorite recipes (BMH’s version of flourless chocolate cake), ramen and Japanese joints (Yume in Alameda, men oh Tokushima Ramen, ken ken ramen, Sushi Ran in Sausalito) and restaurants in East Bay (Trattoria La Siciliana, Ippuku, Ici in Berkeley and Commis and The Trappist for beer and bites in Oakland). Definitely check out the Mystery Meet website and if one is intrigued, there is another Mystery Meet dinner in January, just sign up for the email invitation. Some of us can not wait until January to hang out, so we already have happy hour drinks lined up at 15 Romolo.