Sauce Belden Place 56 Belden Pl./Bush St., Financial District, (415) 397-8800. L M-F, D daily; $$. Reservations accepted. Located down-alley, this one-room venue’s decor includes a pressed-tile ceiling and high seating. Napkins are big—they are repurposed dish towels—and food is mostly tapas-style small “social plates.” Though comfort foods abound, you’ll see updated appetizer versions— sweet little two-bite mini chicken pot pies, meaty portabello mushroom fries with housemade ranch dipping sauce, bacon-wrapped meatloaf atop mashed potatoes. Chef Ben Paula suggests sharing a large sampler platter featuring four each of a variety of appetizers assures so diners won’t experience “entrée envy.” Brussels sprout salad consists of separate leaves tossed with bacon candy and dried cranberries and makes a delicious change from lettuce. Unfortunately, many Happy Hour diners probably never make it to the entrees that include a buttery Maine lobster roll--the bun is made in house, and the shells from the fresh lobster are used to make a bisque--and fried organic chicken with whipped potatoes and gravy. Happy Hour BOOMS--I joked to my dining partner that maybe we should carry on a conversation by texting--daily from 2:30 to 7 p.m., and microwbrews, bubbles by the glass, and creative cocktails are part of the mix (my fave is the tasty American Honey Side Car with Wild Turkey bourbon and triple orange liquor). Dessert brings on oatmeal cookie dough bon bons and PB&J sponge cake with a vanilla ice cream center. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options are available. Sauce stays open until 1 a.m.
image and video c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers