Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesdays at Rosamunde (and Toronado)

Six days and seven nights a week, Rosamunde Sausage Grill makes it their business to grill up what I'm told are some of the best sausages available on the streets of San Francisco. I wouldn't know, though, as I've only been for lunch on a Tuesday, when the usual offerings of forced ground pork and game make way on the open-top grill at Rosamunde for hand-formed patties of ground beef.

Tuesday at Rosamunde's is "secret burger day," a weekly ritual that begins with a delivery of of fresh, Niman Ranch beef and ends as soon as the last of the day's 200 half-pound hamburgers is ordered by one of the legion of the hungry that began to line up along this otherwise relatively quiet block of the Lower Haight well before 11:00 AM.

A quick lunch break it's not, but you've got to be quick if you want in. The doors at Rosamunde open at 11:30 AM. The first order is taken shortly thereafter but it's another half-hour or so before the first burger is served. It's not too terribly much later that the last order is placed, usually sometime just after 1:00, and I'd guess you'd need to be in line a good hour ahead of that time to ensure you've got a chance. Sounds like an exercise in lunacy, I know, but it's damn well worth the wait. Read on and ye shall see.

We'd agreed to meet a friend at Rosamunde around 11:00 but made better than expected time on the crosstown train from Ferry Plaza, where we'd spent a leisurely morning working up our appetites by ogling the gustatory treasures at spots like Cowgirl Creamery, Acme Bread Company and Far West Fungi. At 10:45, the line had already snaked its way well down the block, tailed up when we arrived by the hat-headed guy above, who told us he never misses a week.

The sausage list looked tempting indeed, but we were there for one thing. The Tuesday burger. Three with everything, please. We decided there was no need to request a specific temperature, sensing that things would be just fine.

We were right. The guys at Rosamunde turn out what may just be the utmost example of textbook burger perfection. One generous patty, flame-grilled a perfect medium rare and set atop a toasted onion roll slathered with copious amounts of ketchup and mustard, and topped with melted cheddar, sauteed onions, lettuce and a slice of ripe tomato. A fistful of juicy, moan-and-groan-inducing goodness. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

And we were getting thirsty waiting for it. Thankfully, that half-hour plus waiting period from order to delivery can be spent right next door at Toronado, a solid, neighborhood dive bar that happens to have a seriously killer on-tap beer program. When the runner from Rosamunde finally comes over and calls your name, it's no problem to bring your burger right back to Toronado, just in time for round two (or three if you're drinkin' like you don't have to go back to work after lunch).

It's tough enough finding Russian River Brewing Company offerings on tap back east, where the brewery has a cult following and the beers are tightly allocated. And at $4/pint... forget about it. Time for a little RR Blind Pig IPA, a bright, snappy contrast to the wholesome richness of the Rosamunde burger.

The man responsible for leading us into this mid-week, mid-day hedonism: Wine & Spirits Magazine editor, Wolfgang "Spume" Weber. Wolfgang first let me in on the "secret burger" over a bottle of Poulsard in New York a few months back. When I told him I'd be SF bound in the fall, he suggested our mission and I held him to it. Killer tour guide that he is, WW even suggested a post-burger walk that led us to what's got to be one of San Francisco's most photographed sites, just a few blocks uphill from Rosamunde. We needed some way to burn off some of what we'd wolfed down, after all.

Is the Rosamunde and Toronado combo the ultimate burger and a beer experience? I'd be hard put to argue otherwise.

Rosamunde Sausage Grill
545 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 437-6851
Rosamunde Sausage Grill on Urbanspoon

547 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 863-2276
Toronado Pub on Urbanspoon


Samantha Dugan said...

Blind Pig AND that burger....dude. My friends in SF have been holding out on me!

David McDuff said...

The whole "secret burger" thing is only partly in jest, Sam. I don't think the crew at Rosamunde is going to come after me for letting the cat out of the bag but it's also not something they go out of their way to publicize. They've already developed enough of a loyal, mostly local following that there's no need. Some of my SF friends haven't been yet, either.

But definitely go the next time you're in town on a Tuesday (or any other day for the sausages). You'll dig it; I have no doubt.

Joe Manekin said...

Rosamunde sausages are killer. The burgers? Well, I don't know. Looks like I'll need to play hooky one day or hit it up on a staycation.

Anonymous said...

Ack, it looks like I've had one too many trips to Rosemunde! Kidding. Great meal, McD, and great fun to hang out with you guys.

- wolfgang

David McDuff said...

Play hooky, Joe. It's totally worth it.

As for one too many trips, Wolfgang, I'm not inclined to believe there is such a thing. Besides, I like the photo of you -- very happy. It was definitely a blast; thanks again for the hospitality.

You SF guys may both be interested in the following news, which I received via email from Josh, the grillmaster at Rosamunde:

"Next time you're in town, look for our new location on Mission Street where we'll have our own selection of fine beers on tap. We're due to open some time in January."

Peter Liem said...

Great post. Rosamunde/Toronado is definitely the ultimate burger and beer experience. That Wolfgang, he is always instigating trouble.

David McDuff said...

Hi Peter,
So you've been as well, huh? Something tells me Wolfgang may have been responsible for that trip, too...? That's a good kind of trouble to get into.

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