The Tasting Panel magazine

January / February 2018

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58  /  the tasting panel  /  january/february 2018 FURMINT AMBASSADOR O ne of the oldest cafés in San Francisco, the PlumpJack Balboa Café originally served as a butcher shop that also grilled the occasional burger. To say the restaurant, which opened its doors in 1913, conjures feelings of nostalgia would be an under- statement: The bar that runs almost the length of the main room harkens back to the Balboa's pre-Prohibition roots, while its veteran bartender Mike Fogarty presents a familiar face for even the most stalwart regulars. Fogarty has been a fixture of the Bay Area restaurant scene since 1966, with a career that's included stints at Perry's, Liverpool Lil's, and the long-shuttered Washington Street Bar & Grill (fondly known as the Washbag). He clearly relishes the trade, and can be found behind the bar catering to Balboa's lunch crowd on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays alongside General Manager Jesse Caetano. The restaurant attracts a steady crowd of multi-generational regulars, and Fogarty says there's no shortage of Millennials who appreciate this San Francisco classic. "We see the children and grandchildren of regular customers who have been dining with us for decades," he adds. The Balboa has clearly established a level of trust with its clientele that extends to its wine-by-the-glass program—if Fogarty will pour it, they'll drink it. "Three Martinis at lunch may be a thing of the past, but those Martinis have largely been replaced by white and rosé wine," he says. Fogarty's been doing a brisk business in recent months with the MÁD Dry Furmint, which fits right in with the lineup of crisp, unoaked white wines always in high demand at the Balboa. Made from Hungary's domi- nant white grape, Furmint is not as overt as a grassy Balboa Café's long-time bartender Mike Fogarty is a San Francisco classic in his own right. Fogarty Meets Furmint THE HUNGARIAN GRAPE IS ON TREND AT A CLASSIC SAN FRANCISCO CAFÉ by Deborah Parker Wong photos by Christopher Howard

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