Sean Canavan's dishes are exercises in well-controlled forcefulness, and James Ormsby's deserts offer a delightful finish
A few housekeeping odds and ends: You get bread only if you ask for it. There is much to recommend this policy as a matter of reducing waste and the eating of needless starch calories, but it does seem stingy. Your server will also set one more bottles (still or fizzy or both) of complimentary water on your table; but then, annoyingly, some member of the staff will pop by every few minutes to see if you've had a sip, whereupon your glass will be topped up. I found this attention to be slightly maniacal — a restaurant version of hovering helicopter parents.
Ormsby's desserts: well, they're worth the wait and all the water refills. A Bing cherry sundae ($8), served in a parfait glass, could have sprung from 1950s soda fountains. It consisted of cherry gelée, fresh cherries, cherry sorbet, vanilla ice cream, and a couple of chocolate-chip cookes. There also seemed to be something crumbly inside. My only criticism would be that because Bings are sweet and mild, their delicate flavor suffered in the cold. A shot of Kirsch might have bucked them up a bit.
The Honolulu hangover ($8) had the layered, slightly boozy look of tiramisù but carried the flavors of chocolate and coconut: a chocolate-coconut layer cake amended with puffs of marshmallow cream dotted with bits of toasted coconut. It seemed to combine, somehow, a tropical flair and the memory of many backyard cookouts on the Fourth of July, with something shamelessly creamy for dessert. The end.
Daily, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
One Yerba Buena Lane, SF