Last Friday, I dragged my husband to Polite Provisions (4696 30th St. in North Park) around 8:30ish, hoping to squeeze in. Ha! Open for less than a week, the place was packed. Silly us. We returned at around 4 p.m. Sunday and pretty much had our choice of tables.
Polite Provisions is the newest venture by Arsalun Tafazoli (Neighborhood, Noble Experiment, Craft & Commerce, Underbelly). Tafazoli's done well in giving each of his bars and restaurants its own distinct feel. The theme here is old-school soda fountain, and it stops just short of being kitschy. The spot was formerly the dark, divey nightclub Kadan, and Tafazoli came in and carved out windows and a large skylight to make the space open and bright. There are no TVs, the music (old-school R&B) is at a good volume and there's powdered soap in the bathroom.
Only drinks are served at Polite Provisions, including cocktails, cocktails on draft, craft beer and house-made sodas. If you want food, step over to the adjoining Soda & Swine (also Tafazoli's) to place your order; it'll be brought to your table.
I started with a Brave Companion (bourbon, lemon, crème de cacao, vanilla gomme) and made the husband order a Casual Encounter (London dry gin, strawberries, Rita's Rose Petal soda), one of the cocktails on draft. I had high hopes for the Brave Companion, described as "deep vanilla & fresh citrus that lead to subtle notes of chocolate." The citrus undermined the vanilla, and the chocolate was a little too subtle. Don't get me wrong—it was still a good cocktail. I initially found the Casual Encounter too sweet, but food—Brussels sprouts and fried pizza balls; thumbs-up to both—mellowed it out.
Our next round was better. He got the Attorney Privilege (bourbon, orgeat, lemon and bitters); I opted for the Ocean Side (London dry gin, lime juice, mint, celery bitters and a pinch of sea salt). These were the kind of drinks we'd been hoping for— complex and different. The Ocean Side was like a savory gimlet, with the sea salt highlighting the celery bitters, while the orgeat (a sweet almond syrup) turned the Attorney Privilege into something akin to a boozy, bright Thai iced tea without being overly sweet.
If crowds aren't your thing, go to Polite Provisions on a weekday or when it opens at 4 p.m. For the time being, that's my plan.
A previous version of this story misspelled Arsalun Tafazoli's name. We apologize for the error.