Mandala Lounge takes its name from the Sanskrit word for circle, and in that spirit, it aims to create an experience that fully connects friends, signature cocktails, upscale ambiance, and live entertainment. Here, chicly dressed patrons congregate in the Asian-inspired lounge or on the heated outdoor patio, backed by decade-spanning spins from the rotating line-up of DJs or, in the case of a private party, the host?s own MP3 player or yodeling personal assistant. The cocktail list bears a similarly pan-Asian attitude?the Tokyo Decadence blends pear vodka, rose syrup, cranberry juice, and soda, and the Fit to be Thai?d sweetens palates with ginger vodka, saint germain, pomegranate liqueur, and muddled basil. Aside from cocktails, the bar tenders also pour a selection of single-malt scotches and Asian beers.
A native of Paris, Executive Chef Christian Nam-Hee sharpened his knife skills and his palate at l'Ecole de Paris des M?tiers de la Table. Today he lets his know-how blossom and wander in the kitchen of Bijou Restaurant & Bar, blending the culinary traditions of his homeland with the flavors found in northern California's seasonal organic ingredients. From his pans and cutting boards spring forth sweet-potato frites, quail stuffed with napa cabbage, and other dishes that embody the menu's inventive fusion spirit. To complement such an aesthetically poignant dining experience, the space itself?designed by DesignPlus's Pia Thomas?remains sleek and focused. The centerpiece is the bar, which glows a dreamy, iridescent amber that's complemented by ring chandeliers and absorbed by Italian leather chairs, a lounge area's plush velvet cushions, and tabletop black holes.
The Name: Pisco is a Peruvian grape brandy, popularized in San Francisco for its use in sweet punches.
The Chef: James Schenk’s mother is originally from Peru, and he draws on that culture to create menus at Pisco Latin Lounge and Destino, the larger restaurant next door.
Awards and Accolades
Churrascaria: Brazilian-style barbecuing where the meat is skewered and cooked over an open flame or on a grill; the meat itself is called churrasco.
Gomme syrup: a simple-syrup-like mixture of sugar, water, and gum arabic, commonly used as a sweetener in mixed drinks.
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before: Browse mid-century furnishings, collectibles, and apparel at Stuff (150 Valencia Street).
After: Belt out tunes at The Mint karaoke lounge (1942 Market Street).
Those who shudder at the thought of a stuffy "dinner and dancing" date will be pleasantly surprised at Infusion Lounge. The surprises begin on the menu, a roster of Pan-Asian food created by Chef Evan Turner. Finger foods such as mini burgers slathered with wasabi aioli graduate into refined entrees, such as tea-scented coconut ribs with papaya-mango salad. The cocktail list similarly refreshes the senses, with lychee liqueur and pur?e adding an Eastern element to the classic bellini and bartenders spicing lemon-drop cocktails with a hint of ginger liqueur. The dining room's decor matches the striking menu; dim, red lighting casts an otherworldly glow over translucent columns as diners converse at white-clothed tables.
All dinner guests receive a complimentary entry to Infusion's dance floor, yet another mod, surreal space. Here, orange and red neon light illuminates abstract, green latticework reminiscent of the vines in Pablo Picasso's garden. A steady stream of DJs and live music keeps feet moving, proving why Infusion Lounge was named an Open Table Diners? Choice winner in the Good for Groups and Vibrant Bar Scene categories.
Featured on Travel Channel's Feed the Beast and hailed as the area's Best White Trash Diner by SF Weekly, Butter reunites patrons with deep-fried and microwaveable specialties reminiscent of afterschool indulgences. The full bar and restaurant pairs its premium well drinks and 16-ounce tall cans with dishes including tater tots, mini corn dogs, and deep-fried pog slammers. Chefs infuse cocktails with grape and strawberry sodas, and pillage a pantry to turn up desserts including twinkies and deep-fried peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches. In the midst of glowing beer signs and traditional bar décor, a Winnebago emerges from the wall guided by neon headlights. Against this backdrop, Butter hosts a regular array of themed parties such as retro Fridays, house music Saturdays, and karaoke Sundays.
Asian and American karaoke styles join forces at Pandora Karaoke & Bar, whose moodily lit space hosts both an open stage for crowd-friendly crooners and 15 private rooms for groups. In either setting, singers scroll through Super Master touch-screen karaoke systems to choose from more than 100,000 songs in languages including English, Mandarin Chinese, and Frank Sinatra’s native pig Latin. Wireless microphones then capture crooning voices as lyrics scroll across 50-inch plasma TVs, serenading spectators as they munch sushi and Asian-fusion fare from the menu. Inside private rooms, colorful cushioned banquettes host groups of up to 40 harmonizers beneath themed decorations such as brewery logos or a rebus representing the complete lyrics to “Eye of the Tiger.”