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    Meals on Heels: Where Dinner Is a Drag

    By David Landis–

    The Gay Gourmet–

    Leave it to the delightful Darcy Drollinger to make dinner a drag.

    The peripatetic owner of San Francisco’s premiere drag club, Oasis SF, can’t sit still during a pandemic. It’s not enough that she is streaming past drag shows of Golden Girls: Live and Star Trek: Live; doing her own weekly comic drag send-up of the news, aptly-titled Hot Trash; and creating one of the foremost drag channels on the net, Oasis TV. Nope, she had to go one step further and offer up Meals on Heels: delectable dinners delivered to your doorstep by a drag queen—who also, incidentally, creates a socially-distanced lip sync performance just for you.

    How did she dream up the idea?

    “Necessity is the mother of invention,” quips Drollinger. “When everything shut down, the only way there was clarity on moving forward was to go online—lucky for us, we had all of this content. So, we rolled it out. Then, we thought what else can we do—and how can we make money? The bigger goal is to create a whole network. The Oasis is great for people who can come to the room, but what if we can create an Oasis brand that can reach the world and use that as a calling card for San Francisco?”

    “It was one of those things where they said we could offer drinks to go if we partnered with a caterer,” Drollinger added. “That seemed like a great thing to do. But as a drag bar, there’s a component that was missing. We thought, why not have a drag queen deliver the food? And if they’re delivering it, why don’t they do a socially distanced performance? The response was so great—people are starved for connection. You find online drag all over the place but in person, it is so special. And it’s a personal lip sync! It might be the first in the country.”

    “I’m grateful to have a really solid skeleton crew that I trust to make this happen. It comes from the same place—we all want to keep the Oasis alive. The Oasis has a level of quality; it’s challenging to take it out in the world. We partnered with Martha Avenue Home Cooked Meals, who did a great job catering our New Year’s party. We taste everything. And then you need to trust people who will do the deliveries—both the queens and the drivers. I’m lucky to have competent people that care.”

    With Meals on Heels, you can either order the food to be picked up at the Oasis or have it delivered by a drag queen to your door. Food delivery can certainly present a myriad of problems. But the Gay Gourmet can personally attest: the quality of the food is an A+. Martha Avenue Home Cooked Meals (owner Cindy Goldfield, partnering with chef Willi Nordby) truly delivers (and you can even order from them on non-Meals on Heels nights). On the night we ordered, our dinner for two (still warm!) included: a moist roast chicken with chimichurri sauce, braised butter beans and charred green onions (the entrée was big enough to split); a fresh out of the oven stone fruit cobbler (peaches, plums, apricots, and pluots, with a cornmeal dough); and a homemade salted rye brownie (not that kind, Blanche!) that could satisfy any chocaholic. And, there was not one, but two bottles of a crisp, white Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc from California. With delivery and a tip, it was around $150 (for two, including the booze and the show). “We want to keep it priced at a point where it’s available to everybody, but I don’t want to price out the quality,” says Drollinger.

    Not to bury the lead, but how’s the show? In a word, phenomenal.

    Our drag performer was the slutty Poly Poptart (yes, only one “l”), who arrived at our Victorian home dressed head to toe in rainbow colors with flowing green hair. She performed on the sidewalk while we watched from the upstairs landing. Poly took one look at my husband and me and decided—correctly—that we were Broadway queens. So, she regaled us with “Popular” and “Defying Gravity” from Wicked. But this was no ordinary lip sync performance. A competitive gymnast turned stand-up comedian in drag, Poly did a double turn followed by a backwards flip—in heels—on a hill. Then, spur of the moment, when she got to the lyric “Nothing’s going to bring me down,” she hopped up and slid down on our bannister backwards! You have to see the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkDNDR4iNe4

    Poly says, “Every performance is different. Sometimes we’re in a nice front yard, sometimes we’re performing on a hill in heels. I bring several lip sync options with me—usually 4—and based on who answers the door, I pick one. Everything is in the moment.”

    Poly is no slouch. You may know her from the “365 Days of Drag Names Project” last summer, which attracted a huge Instagram following and propelled her career as a stand-up comedian. Besides performing at the Oasis, Poly has headlined at the Oakland Comedy Fest, done shows with Peaches Christ & Sister Roma, and co-hosted a show with RuPaul’s Drag Race fave Honey Mahogany. Comedy Central and Family Guy’s Kabir Singh booked Poly for the San Jose Improv (unfortunately, cancelled due to COVID-19). Poly is also doing an online political spoof called “Foxy News” and hopes that one day she makes it to Saturday Night Live.

    Where is Meals on Heels headed? For now, Drollinger is scheduling it every Friday night in July, but possibly longer. “I’m building on the future and generating stronger community—those are important,” explains Drollinger. “This all happened right when I bought the club. The responsibility to my investors, my community, and the performers became the center of my focus. Getting the response from people being so happy has been deeply motivating. I really want to keep our community intact and I want to be there for everyone when we come back. I’m determined.”

    Most of all, Drollinger summarizes poetically, “We need to laugh.”

    Meals on Heels (from Oasis SF):
    Website: https://sfoasis.com/
    YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFX1qGPFvK-hfo1A-1iJYVA
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theoasissf/
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sfoasis/

    Poly Poptart:
    YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/kaprosen
    Instagram: www.instagram.com/polypoptart
    Website: www.polypoptart.com

    Martha Avenue Home Cooked Meals:
    https://www.marthaavenuefood.com/
    (You can also order from Martha on non Meals on Heels nights)

    David Landis, aka “The Gay Gourmet,” is a foodie, a freelance writer, and a PR executive. Follow him on Instagram @GayGourmetSF, on Twitter @david_landis, email him at: david@landispr.com or visit him online at: www.gaygourmetsf.com


    Absinthe Group Introduces ‘Arbor’ in Hayes Valley

    The restaurant group behind Absinthe Brasserie & Bar has just announced the official opening of its newest concept: Arbor, a community restaurant in the heart of Hayes Valley. With a variety of fast and wholesome dishes that focus on plant-based, organic, and local ingredients, Arbor is a welcoming neighborhood destination to keep neighbors fed and offer convenient options for everyone. For the health and wellbeing of staff and guests, Arbor will be offering takeout and delivery until the indoor seating and outdoor patio can safely reopen.

    “The Absinthe Group has been part of Hayes Valley for more than 20 years,” said Bill Russell-Shapiro, Proprietor of The Absinthe Group. “We’re happy to introduce our new fast-casual place—Arbor—to the community.”

    A collaboration between The Absinthe Group Executive Chef Ryan McIlwraith and former Barcino Executive Chef Kaili Hill, Arbor’s menu features small plates including seasoned curly fries and grilled broccoli, an array of customizable salads, and hearty entrees including a double cheeseburger with grass-fed beef, fried chicken sandwich on a house-made brioche bun, and vegan burger piled high with fresh toppings.

    The dessert menu promotes healthier alternatives without compromising on flavor, including an almond chia seed pudding, plant-based soft serve from Eclipse, and fresh DoughXX vegan cookies. With beer, cider, wine, and kombucha on tap, Arbor also benefits from neighboring Arlequin Wine Merchant and the shop’s extensive collection of wines from around the globe available by the bottle.

    Located in the former Arlequin Cafe space at 384 Hayes Street, Arbor was jointly designed by Absinthe Group Director of Development Jonny Raglin and Hayes Valley-based Piechota Architecture—the same firm behind the design of The Absinthe Group’s SoMa restaurant, Bellota. With a retro flair and bright color palette, Arbor captures the joy and ease of neighborhood living in a small café with seating for 30.

    The interior has been transformed with arches of woven cane panels and ribbed wainscoting from Omar Zaouk, the tables and bar tops are local Madrone made by Devin Thamer of Thamer Design, and chairs and stools from Italian designer Pedrali were outfitted with customized cushions. Original collage pieces printed on fabric adorn the walls, along with two framed works by Marissa Boz Raglin.

    Arbor will be open for lunch and dinner takeout and delivery Wednesdays through Sundays from 12 pm to 8 pm.

    Arbor online: https://www.arborsf.com/

    Arlequin Wine Merchant: www.arlequinwinemerchant.com

    Published on July 16, 2020