I appreciate that 15 Romolo wasn’t a crazy brunch scene on the weekend I visited.

Booze and brunch? I’m so there.

I’ve been meaning to get to the established 15 Romolo in the historic Hotel Basque in North Beach since I’ve read about its Punch Drunk Brunch. On the weekends, this popular bar and restaurant sets the party mood with the focus on a specialty punch and bites inspired by the hotel name (referencing the Basque region of Spain).

The hotel, whose dining room had the long tradition of serving family-style lunches to neighborhood patrons for years, had closed the restaurant in the late 1990s until it was taken over and reborn in 1998 by Jon Gasparini and Greg Lindgren, who have gone on to establish themselves as cocktail masters in San Francisco.

Last Sunday I finally dropped in with my friends Craig, Ramon and Tony. The space has that old saloon charm, and on this particular day wasn’t crowded so it wasn’t a problem getting a table.

Of course, the cocktail menu had an extensive list of specialty cocktails along with brunch standards like a Bloody Mary ($12). The daily punch of the day sits at the center of the room setting the tone, and I recommend trying it like I did. I forgot what the ingredients were but it was balanced and smooth. (I did also try the Bloody Mary, one of my favorites, but 15 Romolo’s version had a bit more bitters than I preferred.)

The food menu isn’t as extensive as the drinks, but there are definitely things to choose from, from the punch drunk brunch burger ($13) made with wagyu beef to a suckling pig ($16). As mentioned, there are touches of Spanish influences, including the croquetas ($7), Spanish tortilla ($11) and baked egg and sofrito ($7), which I ordered with the addition of jamon serrano (Spanish ham) for $3.

Spanish tortilla with potato, onion and harissa aioli, $11

Moroccan chicken sliders ($12) with apricot and marcona almond

My egg in a mini skillet was nicely flavored with tomato and pepper, and the layer of jamon serrano was a nice foil to the egg. Craig tried the Moroccan chicken sliders ($12), while Ramon got the tortilla with harissa aioli and Tony got the burger, which he enjoyed and said was one of the best in town (he ordered it with additional bacon, of course).

For the table, we ordered the churro waffle after the restaurant sent us an amuse bite of the churro waffle with a rum-infused syrup. So while the churro waffle ($10) on the menu comes with bittersweet chocolate, we asked that we also get some of the rum syrup too. This is the way to go if you order this too.

Baked egg and sofrito ($7) with jamon serrano ($3)

Punch drunk brunch burger ($13) with fried egg, harissa mayo, tomato, mizuna and pickles with added bacon.

Churro waffle ($10) with bittersweet chocolate and added rum-spiked syrup.

The last bite
The brunch fare at 15 Romolo is on the small side you don’t get overloaded but you do leave satisfied. The real star, though, are the cocktails that adds to the festive environment. 15 Romolo has been around for awhile, but it still captures the spirit of the neighborhood while providing a fun environment to gather with friends.

The rating: 2.5 out of 4 camera snaps




The deets: 15 Romolo, at 15 Romolo Place in San Francisco. PH: 415.398.1359. Bar open weekdays from 5 p.m., and weekend brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Reservations for large parties only. Major credit cards accepted. www.15romolo.com

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