Chef David Bazirgan, pastry chef Francis Ang, and bar manager Brian Means have recently reinvented the Fifth Floor restaurant in the Palomar Hotel. Giving a keen eye on current city trends including the “Twitter” culture invasion, the newly renamed Dirty Habit has been reimagined to lure the young technology professionals with smartly prepared cocktails, a cozy hip atmosphere, and a modern array of intelligent food options. On its second opening night we paid the restaurant a visit to understand how well the new vision is being executed. Below is a summary of our findings.
Ambiance / Exterior
[maxgallery name=”dirty-habit-interior-exterior”]The restaurant lies within the boutique Palomar Hotel near the bustling and touristy corner of 4th and Market Street. Access to the restaurant is through the hotel’s petite lobby and up five floors via an antique elevator. Once on the fifth floor patrons will quickly notice the restaurant’s intentions as the entrance is flanked by a shelf of distilled liquors and an art piece displaying the words “Bourbon”. The richly appointed and expansive interior contains a multitude of rooms for lounging, socializing, drinking and eating. A large bar with an extensive array of spirit bottles is situated towards the rear, next to the outdoor patio. There are no dreamy city-line views as the patio is not a rooftop but the outdoor setting is made cozy and comfortable by draped canopies, hung heating lamps, and animated decor of fire and water.
Dirt Nap – Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth, Porcini Mushroom, Lustau “Don Nuno” Oloroso Sherry, King’s Ginger Liqueur
[maxgallery name=”dirty-habit-dirt-nap”] The Dirt Nap was presented as a caramel colored liquid in a chilled glass goblet. The complex liquor had elements of sweetness with earthy mushroom undertones. Additional complexities originated from the interactions of the spicy ginger, dry vermouth and sweet sherry. Overall the cocktail was smooth, robust, and tasted like it was made from high quality ingredients.
The Barrel Aged Island Old Fashioned – Cana Brava Rum, Velvet Falernum, All Spice Dram, Angostura Bitters
[maxgallery name=”dirty-habit-old-fashioned”]The ruddy brown colored Old Fashioned was served in a tumbler with a large chunk of ice and a slice of lime. The cold liquid had intense flavors of oak and rum with warm spice tones of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and allspice. The cocktail was properly balanced, complex and paired well with the tapas style entrees.
chicken wings / sweet soy / chili vinaigrette
pretzel and sausage / mustard
[maxgallery name=”dirty-habit-pretzel-sausage”]The components of the pretzel and sausage board were purposely arranged to be enjoyed while drinking cocktails and socializing with others. The doughy pretzel smelled freshly baked and soaked up the savory sausage’s drippings. The added dash of vinegary mustard and sweet fig enhanced the dish’s flavors.
asparagus / chorizo / smoked egg / preserved lemon
[maxgallery name=”dirty-habit-asparagus-salad”]The salad was comprised of arugula leaves, asparagus portions, and small bits of smoked chorizo. A thick, creamy egg sauce with a trace of smokiness accompanied the salad and complimented the cooked asparagus. Due to the tiny cut portions, the chorizo was difficult to taste but this flaw did not detract significantly from the dish. Overall, the salad was light and properly dressed.
octopus / eggplant / pine nuts / cherries
[maxgallery name=”dirty-habit-octopus”]With its fully marinated and charred tentacles, the grilled octopus was tender, smokey, and savory. A squid ink blackened eggplant puree introduced brininess and enhanced the octopus’s flavors. Pickled cherries added a mellow fruitiness without the sweet sharpness and the celery leaf garnish brought an element of spice.
bread pudding / crème fraîche / blueberries / cashew
[maxgallery name=”dirty-habit-bread-pudding”]The warm bread pudding and four separate condiments were presented on a gray slate board for the patron to assemble. The thick, light and slightly sweet bread was filled with tart free pickled blueberries and the toppings consisted of crumbled cashew, crème fraîche, crème anglaise, and additional blueberries. The sweet crème anglaise provided a creamy egginess while the crumbled cashew contributed a crunchy texture. The sweet dessert tasted fresh, sugar balanced, and bookended a positive dining experience.
A blind eye was given to the slow service as kitchen and staff were still going through their paces for the second opening night. Our waitress seemed schooled in cocktails as she spoke intelligently about drink ingredients and offered recommendations based on our feedback. Reflecting the depth of training, specific questions about dish ingredients and preparations were smartly answered by the bus staff.
With an influx of technology savvy 20 and 30 something residents, demand for modern cocktail lounges in the city has been on the increase. Some of these young residents are transplants from cities such as New York and Los Angeles where these chic lounges and their skyline views are plentiful. While Dirty Habit’s patio lacks a skyline view, it nailed practically everything else. The atmosphere is young, vibrant, and professional and the extensive cocktail menu is both unique and modern. The level of effort and detail in both the food and drinks made the final bill of $88 well worth the cost.