The Beehive opened only a few months ago in the old Range space, by the old Range people, seemingly with a nod to the younger demographics of our ever-changing neighborhood. Oddly enough, it’s actually a nod to an older time: the ’60s. Strictly speaking, this isn’t a restaurant, but a high concept, mid-century-modern cocktail bar. The Mad Men-esque space is whimsical, with its honeycomb wallpaper, wood-paneled walls and Jetsons-era lamps (definitely a bar that television built). The mirrored lounge in the back, sporting low-slung, sleek couches, is particularly appealing, in a hyped-up-version of a The-Ice Storm-cocktail-party sort of way.
On my first visit with a friend, we shared the French Onion Dip popcorn.
… fondue with potatoes, bread and broccoli:
… and the Swedish meatballs.
The popcorn had that Lipton’s French Onion Soup Mix je ne sais quoi, although the popcorn itself had been sitting out too long and tasted a bit stale. The hip/chic darling of all those parties your mother went to (all right, that MY mother went to), the fondue, was lovingly uplifted here, using an aged cheddar and Saison and lived up to its hype. I loved the potatoes with the cheese, and the broccoli had an almost smoky quality. The meatballs were quite a few cuts above the Ikea brand, and we sopped up all the gravy with the proffered bread.
We’d actually also ordered crispy fish sliders, but they forgot them and we were okay with that. As for the cocktails — for that is the main draw here — I found them very well executed and balanced. I have an innate disdain for highball drinks: too much ice, in my experience, which inevitably leaves you with a watered-down concoction, and there are a lot of them here. But there are many other classic-and-non libations, too. My friend tried the Rising Sun (Dewars, pear, vermouth, Licor 43, and Amontillado sherry), which was lighter than it sounded, and again, well-balanced, not as sweet as the Licor 43 might have suggested. I tried the Beauty Mark: gin, cacao, mandarin, egg white. It’s a creamy, dreamy elixir.
I followed up with a Fickle Fox: cognac, Capelletti (an herbal aperitif), Gran Classico Bitter, and Cocchi di Torino, a slightly sweet drink that was offset by the bitter notes of the two aperitifs. The Nightingale, an elixir made with mescal, kumquat, cinnamon and Cointreau, was equal parts refreshing and warm.
For my second visit, I took the BF. You might very correctly ask why I would take the BF to such an establishment. He’s not into whimsy, and a double shot of Cuervo is as cocktail-y as he gets. But he does like beer, and he found pleasure in a Calicraft Kolsch.
We started with the other fondue: the cheddar cheese, piquillo pepper & mezcal blend.
There was no heat to speak of, but the mezcal was definitely in evidence. BF didn’t like it much and, I’ll admit, I preferred the first fondue, as it was more like the classic.
I had hoped to entice the BF with the pigs in a blanket, but the server said they had a tri-tip slider as a special that night.
We both found it just okay. It was also a bit difficult to eat, as it pulled right out of the bun at first bite, and the meat was a tad dry.
I had the crispy fish slider, which was completely delicious — a Filet-o-Fish on steroids. We also split an order of deviled eggs and beef tallow fries.
The deviled eggs were pretty but not very flavorful, and also a little dry. My favorite was probably the wasabi one.
As for the fries: look, I don’t know what to tell you about beef tallow fries. I know that’s what McDonald’s used to do back in my day, and we all know that Mickey D’s FFs were the sine qua non of fried taters. But these were just fries. Nothing wrong with them, but I couldn’t have picked them out of a lineup. And served with a white sauce that was maybe ranch? It actually tasted a little rancid, to be honest. My fish sammie was the best thing of the night.
For me, The Beehive really isn’t a place to make a meal (and a $$ meal, at that) — which it isn’t meant to be; it’s a cocktail bar. And a stylish one, something the Mission really doesn’t have many of. We’ve got plenty of dive bars — and God knows I love me some dive bars — but if you want to get your Joan on, or find your Don Draper, slip into something a little more comfortable and slink on in. Without the second-hand smoke.
842 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110