As you regular reader know, I was in San Francisco last week. It being one of my favorite eating cities in the world, I was excited for the opportunity to check out some of their underground food scene.
As I sat at a new swanky cocktail bar with my friend Biki the conversation turned to my Brooklyn dinners. She excitedly remembered that her friend Chris was running a bit of a fun eating experience in the mission. A quick email from her iPhone and we had a reservation for 9pm the next night.
Chris and his partners, who have all worked at great restaurants in the bay area, have created a one night only, restaurant experience in a unique and unusual space. Every Thursday this summer Bruno’s allows Chris and the guys to take over the burlesque lounge upstairs. You enter through Bruno’s main entrance but quickly find your way to the back steps and ascend the semi-spiral stairs to a cozy space that has tables set for about 30 or 40 people. At the top of the stairs we were greeted by a tall guy with a fantastic 70’s style mustache. He was expecting us. Marking off our reservation, he sent us to the bar while he prepared our table.
At the bar I met Christa, the bartender and Biki’s friend. I indulged in a fresh, fruity sangria while she had a martini. Christa made both drinks to perfection.
As Biki and I shed the stress of what was, until that point, a very hectic Thursday I took in the rest of the restaurant. A giant black cat sculpture hung in the corner over the bar and a series of 2 foot letters spelled pussycat across the long wall in the joint. Our table was ready and Christa’s boyfriend sat us across the room at a table for two right near the door. Normally that is not a good seat in a restaurant but in this case it was the best seat in the house. Watching the patrons shuffle in and out was excellent. Everyone seemed to know someone that was running the show or eating at a table. We ourselves had at least 10 visitors to our table throughout the meal.
Biki and I jumped into the menu once we were settled and the host who sat us had left. Immediately two things jumped out at us; Breakfast for Dinner and Prime rib for two. There were no descriptions on the very simple menu. A list of slow and local food vendors were listed on the right, wines on the bottom and some basic information along the left and top. Chris came up to visit the table and take a break from working in the kitchen at the perfect time to ask a few questions.
We decided we wanted to know the size of “Breakfast for Dinner” but did not want to know what the ingredients were. Adding a few other items to the list, prime rib included, we asked if that would be too much food for the two of us. With a sigh and a telling eye shift Chris said, “No, but it will be a lot of food”. His body language said it all but Biki and I were up for the throwdown. We capped off our order with a big French red wine and turned back to the last drops of our bar drinks.
Next up was “Breakfast for dinner”. Turns out a french omelette with goat cheese, greens and toasted peasant bread was the translation. The eggs were light and fluffy and blended with the cheese perfectly.
We augmented this course with a glass each of some sparkling wine. Along with the B4D came one of the side dishes we ordered, roasted corn with bacon butter.
Outstanding, outrageous and killer all in one kernel bearing cob. Smearing the last drops of egg and cheese on the bread, Biki and I were happy eaters.
Next up was the main event. A huge plate containing two huge slabs of rare prime rib atop creamed spinach and roasted potatoes with bacon hit the table. Our eyes widened and we both grabbed for a sip of that French red. Biki wasted no time diving in while I fumbled with the camera. The meat was tender, moist and marbled.
Consumed by the bovine bliss I forgot that we had not received one item we ordered. As I looked up to see if Biki had realized this, Chris slipped by dropping a small plate with Bone marrow and brioche on the only open part of our table. Biki and I smiled and refocused our attention on our meat. When I finally did get to the marrow it did not disappoint. I sopped up every last drop with the bread and we both sat happy sipping the last of the wine.
After a small break to talk to some friends we finally finished with a mini strawberry-raspberry pie.
Completely full, and far to aware that I needed to get on a plane at 7am, we pulled ourselves from the table and managed our way to the street. The cool air of the street acted as a reentry into reality leaving the warm nook of old world/new skool cuisine behind.
Chris and friends run there “Good Evening Thursday” dinners every Thursday for the next few weeks. Together the team has worked at Chez Panisse, Serpentine and Farina. For reservations to a dinner send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. But hurry I heard this Thursday is the last one.