Author: Poling, Chuck

Down on the Corner

For the past six years or so we’ve been fortunate to have a very nice coffeehouse down the street that features live music. The Velo Rouge Café has become our home field, so to speak. We’ve had many memorable evenings there and have enjoyed the best of local Americana music, as well as some great out-of-town acts.

Just last week, we were thrilled to have Judy Forrest and Jim Nunally play at the VRC for our Free Range Fridays series. The little café can get pretty packed, and the chatter can distract from the experience. But this crowd last Friday was so into the music that you could have heard a guitar pick drop. I’m a notorious shusher who isn’t afraid to name names. But on this night I just relaxed and enjoyed the performance – the crowd, entranced by Judy and Jim, was on its very best behavior.

Mac and Amy Jo, the gracious and friendly owners of the café, provide the neighborhood with a lovely place featuring an espresso bar, beer, wine, good food and, of course, live music on Friday nights. The décor has a Tour de France theme going on, which is appropriate considering how many cyclists pass by café on Arguello Boulevard, which is a bike route between Golden Gate Park and the Presidio. The VRC has the coolest bike rack in town and always has a pump out front for bicycle tires with performance problems.

Best of all, when the café opened it replaced THE WORST CHINESE RESTAURANT EVER! And I like cheap Chinese food. But whatever came out of that kitchen could only technically be called food. I picked up some takeout from there when I first moved into the neighborhood. Whoa! Never made that mistake again. As I recall, the order included Moo Shu Goo, Sweet and Sour Gristle, Kung Pao Cartilage, Hairball in Clay Pot, and the regrettable General Cho’s Revenge. I passed on Seven Sticky Things Scraped From Floor in Black Bean Sauce. But suffice to say that General Cho had the last laugh.

How this awful joint stayed in business was a mystery. All we can figure is that unsuspecting freshmen from the nearby University of San Francisco didn’t realize that Clement Street is only four blocks away, where you can randomly throw a pork bun and hit a better Asian eatery than the wretched dive on the corner.

How bad was it?

It was so bad that when they threw leftovers out on the street, the pigeons flew away.

It was so bad the Chinese Consulate issued a formal protest.

It was so bad that 40 percent of their deliveries were returned unopened.

It was so bad that after it closed, it took EPA cleanup crews a year to remove the oyster sauce from the soil.

It was so bad that MSG was listed as a side dish.

It was so bad that the Asian-American Anti-Defamation League considered the food a racial slur.

It was so bad…well, what do you think is in the “egg droppings” soup?

But all that is in the past now. Good food, drink and merriment are the staples of Velo Rouge. Coming up on July 19th, our special guest for Free Range Fridays is singer-songwriter Joe New, who’s written songs recorded by Levon Helm and Del McCoury, among others. You can keep track of our musical doings at
Posted:  6/24/2013

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