Food and drink writer Virginia Miller picks her favorite new dining spots in the city
>>COMMONWEALTH Anthony Myint and chef Jason Fox are re-inventing fine dining, along with a few key players in San Francisco (see Sons and Daughters below). Myint was one of the masterminds behind Mission St. Food and Mission Chinese Food, but at Commonwealth delves into molecular gastronomy. Taste your way through deliciously experimental creations for a fraction of the price at comparable restaurants - no dish is over $15. Dine on goat cooked in hay while sipping a liquid nitrogen aperitif, finish with porcini thyme churros with huckleberry jam. You may be packed in tight in the spare, modern space, but you’ll leave glowing from stimulating flavors and presentation.
COMSTOCK. Photo by Virginia Miller
>>COMSTOCK SALOON The Barbary Coast comes alive in this bar/restaurant gem that feels like a timeless classic. From Victorian wallpaper and wood-burning stove, to restored dark woods, the spirit and history of the space charm immediately. Filling up on rich beef shank/bone marrow pot pie or bites like whiskey-cured gravlax on rye toasts with dill sour cream is happy respite on chilly nights. Pair with a perfect Martinez cocktail or a barkeep’s whimsy (bartender’s creation based on your preferences). Comstock exemplifies the best of what a modern-day saloon (with old world sensibilities) can be.
>>CURRY VILLAGE When husband-and-wife owners Kamal Barbhuyan and Nimmi Bano left the Tenderloin’s Little Delhi, I mourned the loss of their divine butter chicken and made-from-scratch eats. Thankfully, this year brought them to the Inner Sunset with Curry Village. With the highest concentration of great Indian food in the ‘Loin, it feels right to spread the love across the city. Whether it’s daal (lentils) enriched with spiced beef, or the ultimate eggplant curry, baingan bharta, this couple prepares what could otherwise be standard Indian fare with love and lush flavor.
>>HEIRLOOM CAFE The menu (less than ten starters and entrees) is so simple I’m almost bored reading it. But upon first visit to the Victorian, country kitchen dining room (circa the Mission 2010), each dish was so well-executed as to diminish scepticism. Reminding me more than a little of Chez Panisse in ethos, ultra-fresh, pristine ingredients make a basic dish a revelation. Take a mountain of Heirloom tomatoes piled over toasted bread with pickled fennel, cucumbers and feta, or a flaky bacon onion tart loaded with caramelized onions. Heirloom’s added strength is owner Matt Straus’ thoughtfully chosen wine lists covering wines from Lebanon to Spain.
SONS & DAUGHTERS. Photo by Virginia Miller
>>PROSPECT Though I’m not won over by the semi-corporate look of Prospect’s large space, this hot newcomer shines in everything that passes through your lips: wine, cocktails and food. Chef Ravi Kapur’s exploratory dishes reveal impeccable technique with funky attitude. Garlic-roasted quail with roasted almonds, preserved lemon and Black Mission figs is exemplary, while Summer beets meld with vadouvan yogurt, candied pistachios and onion rings. Pair with a glass of wine recommended by wine director Amy Currens or bar manager Brooke Arthur’s elegantly layered cocktails and you have a meal that is the whole culinary package.