Prospect, Saison, and Hooker's Sweet Treats draw us in at first taste
PROSPECT -- Nancy Oakes, Kathy King and Pamela Mazzola of Boulevard opened the long-anticipated Prospect restaurant with a stellar crew: Ravi Kapur as chef, Brooke Arthur (long a favorite for her cocktail menu at Range), and Amy Currens as Wine Director (formerly of Luce). You couldn't ask for a better line-up, with all the elegance of Boulevard but more of an experimental, hip approach.
The space is huge, almost corporate-looking, but warmed by brown tones and centered bar. Granted, I haven't dined fully here yet but at the pre-opening party, I sampled a wide range of the food (at least ten dishes), pretty much all of it stellar, as well as three fine cocktails. The kitchen is impressive, allowing a finely tuned team to crank out Dayboat scallops ($16) with summer truffles and shaved squash, better-than-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches, and whole wheat crepes ($19) stuffed with ricotta, nettles and roasted mushrooms. I love black cod ($14) in red curry with snap peas, shiitakes, and lightly-fried shiso shrimp fritters. Desserts were equally intriguing from a blissfully dark, creamy chocolate mousse/cake topped with berries, to the truly unique presentation and taste of cherries atop a thyme pavlova ($8) with vanilla, black pepper and frozen yogurt.
Cocktails ($10-11) were all high quality from a tart, bracing Mr. White (Pueblo Viejo blanco tequila, St. Germain elderflower, strawberry mint shrub, lime) to a balanced Prospector (Wild Turkey Rye 101, Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur, Drambuie, pineapple gum, lemon). I suspect Prospect is going to become a key SF dining and drinking destination.
300 Spear, SF.
HOOKER'S SWEET TREATS -- The name continually prompts the obvious jokes, but all that aside, Hooker's Sea Salt Dark Chocolate-covered Caramels are as addictive and bitchin' as everyone says.
Hooker's caramel and a capuccino
Visiting opening day, I found it's not merely a storefront for the caramels (expensive at $2 each, $7 for 3, or $20 for 10), but also for wonderful coffee and capuccinos from Sightglass, serving the first of their own roasted beans here (returning the favor since Sightglass first sold Hooker's caramels). They bake bread pudding daily (always wins points with me), a nod to the owner's Louisiana roots (another point!) The space is cozy, with one communal table that gazes lazily out a window framed by a leafy tree, and turn-of-the-century country kitchen decor of dark blue and wood. Along with microscopic Farm:Table, there's two linger-worthy, coffee mecca cafes in this neck of the 'Loin.
442 Hyde, SF.
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