I expected to find Etheredge with a heavy heart; I had heard the news that she was turning the bar over to April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman of New York’s Spotted Pig. What I found was the opposite. They’re going to keep Tosca much as it is, she told me, down to the signature House Cappuccino, a Prohibition-era concoction of chocolate, brandy and steamed milk. “Of course, I’ll still hang out here,” Etheredge said. “I won’t have to be working.”
Tosca is a strange, magical bar in North Beach that walks the high-low line by repeatedly stumbling from one side of it to the other. It has old standards on the jukebox, bartenders who wear white jackets, and a long wooden bar that always has a line of Irish coffees in progress. It also has uncomfortable diner-y tables and chairs scattered around a cavernous room that gets unbearably loud on weekend nights.
On weeknights, however, when it’s just you and some old men at the bar, it feels special. I’ve posted about it before. In case you don’t want to follow that link, for which I do not blame you, here’s the Broke Ass Stuart Tosca tribute I excerpted:
In a time where San Francisco was just declared the most expensive city in the US, and The City’s artists and working class people are being quickly replaced by boy faced millionaires who care more about reaching their IPO than creating A-R-T, places like Tosca allow us to romanticize this beautiful city. They allow us to remember that this city was built on gold dust and denim, union organizers and poets. They allow us to remember that, for much of its history, San Francisco has been a place to fit in if you didn’t fit in anywhere else. What’s important about Tosca is that its sheer existence reminds us that San Francisco is not like everywhere else.
Well, Tosca went under, apparently, but got bailed out by none other than April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig in New York. So says Tablehopper. I haven’t yet been to The Spotted Pig, despite it being only a few blocks from my New York office, because there’s always an epic wait, but I’ve read quite a bit about Bloomfield and her other ventures. I’m excited to see what they do with Tosca, and, honestly, a little proud that a New York chef (well, British, but whatever) not only decided to open a place here but swooped in to rescue a local institution. Of course, though, it’s also scary to think of it losing its old school charm.
Here are a few photos I took while getting a little sloshy on a random Tuesday with Esme.