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Delicious destination dishes at Bluestem, Marcella's, and Blackwood

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Don't sleep: Calabrian chile spaghettini at Bluestem
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY VIRGINIA MILLER


CALABRIAN CHILE SPAGHETTINI AT BLUESTEM

Bluestem Brasserie is no run-of-the-mill downtown shopping break. In fact, it has improved since opening in summer 2011, honing in on its menu, house charcuterie, and whole-animal butchery practices (no part goes to waste). With new executive chef Francis Hogan, there is fresh life in the space frequented by tourists, shoppers, and the Moscone Center crowd. While wine on tap, grass-fed beef, and whole-animal practices are common in SF at large, being centrally situated downtown between SoMa and Union Square, Bluestem is exposing a new range of clientele to the delicious taste of sustainability.

Besides satisfying house pâté (on the charcuterie platter) of pork, pistachio, and the like, a whole roasted branzino ($29) is flaky, perked up with roasted summer chilis or your choice of side, while grass-fed six-ounce filet ($31) or 12-ounce ribeye ($34) steaks are appropriately tender, medium rare, with choice of sauce ($3.75), like bourbon espresso or horseradish-roasted garlic cream. The dish I found myself trekking back for whether at lunch or dinner is Calabrian chile spaghettini ($19). Though I would prefer some heat from Calabrian chiles (I detected none), the heaping bowl of pasta is topped with Early Girl tomatoes, arugula, and basil — the pièce de résistance being melted burrata flowing over the pasta in lush waves. A gentle zesting of lemon rind perfects it. Dessert ($9.50) is no afterthought. The Peaches and Herb "Reunited" sundae was a layered summer treat, but the jar filled with mini-cookies baked in-house, including lemon sugar and peanut butter, made me feel like a kid again. There were so many cookies, I finished the rest for breakfast the next day with coffee.

One Yerba Buena Lane, SF. (415) 547-1111, www.bluestembrasserie.com

 

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