Sunday, January 20, 2008

Local Kitchen - Bar Jules - Spork - Fish & Farm: San Francisco

Dining Notes: First Time Dining Impressions

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Local Kitchen & Wine Merchant
: 330 First St San Francisco, CA 94105

I have nothing bad to say about Local Kitchen and Wine Merchant, the new place from Ola Fendert, but I can't think of anything great to say about it either. The problem starts with their menu which is uninteresting at best. Don't we already have enough average pizza in this town? I wanted to love Local, but although our pizza slid off its precarious perch, the sparks didn't fly, so I'll stick with our perennial favourite, Fendert's Oola instead.
This review was a first impression. Sunday December 30th, 2007.

Bar Jules
: 609 Hayes St San Francisco, CA 94199

There is nothing more appealing to me on paper than new kid on the Hayes Valley block, Bar Jules. I love the concept of its small, changing daily seasonal menu, their support of local farmers and their commitment to sustainable meat and fish. The space is bright and fresh, the staff are friendly, it's a relaxing, welcoming spot for Sunday brunch. On my next visit I'll skip the simpler bacon and egg option for something I wouldn't make so easily at home, like a delicious lamb stew or perhaps a chestnut and farro soup. Because of the limited options, this is not the place to take a fussy eater, but I'd return again in a heartbeat, especially with people who would appreciate Bar Jules' sensibilities which are similar to my own.
This review was a first impression. Sunday January 6th 2008.

: 1058 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

We might be getting too old for the ear-shattering decibel levels we encountered at Spork, but we're still compus mentis enough to enjoy the playful decor inside this ex-Kentucky Fried Chicken diner-like space. The menu managed to be both eclectic enough to intrigue me and traditional enough to please my less adventurous dining partner. I revelled in my discovery of the most delicious brussel sprouts in the history of the world (hint: crisp them up and serve with griddled calamari and lemon aioli) whilst he happily feasted on the freshest of salads and a bavette steak before declaring "I want to come back here - on a weekday, really late, so I can enjoy my food without the noise."
This review was a first impression. Friday January 11th 2008.

Fish & Farm
: 339 Taylor St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Fish & Farm is another San Francisco restaurant putting farmers and sustainable food sources at the heart of its menu. What sets them apart is their promise to stick to a 100-mile radius in sourcing their produce. Despite the self-imposed limitations, the menu still has plenty of choice. Although the squid and mushroom ragout dishes I settled on were just ok, both the bone marrow and ribeye steak I tried from other peoples' plates really got me salivating. I loved my chocolate caramel dessert too. A good thing to note is that F&F have a funky private dining room. Its decor is nowhere near as special as the eggshell blue painted walls of the main restaurant, but it's perfect for those occasions when you would prefer to keep your revelries to yourself.
This review was a first impression. Friday January 18th 2008.

QUESTION OF THE DAY graphic copyright sam breach
?Have you tried Local Kitchen, Bar Jules, Spork or Fish & Farm? Would you revisit?

Local Resources
Serpentine will start taking reservations next week [SF Eater]
This months Bay Area closures that make me sad:
The Washington Bar and Grill closed before I had a chance to revisit. [SF Eater]
The City has lost the sweetest little gem - Petite Patisserie. [Tablehopper]
San Rafael loses its Royal Frank after 36 years [Marin IJ]

2007 | The Finicky Lawyer
2006 | Fresh Coconut in Fiji
2005 | First Press

© 2008 Sam Breach
Local Kitchen - Bar Jules - Spork - Fish & Farm: San Francisco


  • At 20/1/08 22:30, Blogger Catherine said…

    Hi Sam,

    Hmm.. I support your view of the Local Kitchen menu. And $12 for olives! Golly!

    This year, I'm actually creating a list of new place to eat at, so this is a dream post for me. Bar Jules eggs with lentils sounds appealing.

    I've also decided to add fish and seafood back into my diet this year (dine out only - yeah, I know, I'll eat it, but I won't prepare it, what's with that. Strongly influenced by eating at the restaurant I work with and get a stiff discount). No excuses, just doing what feels right for me. Although, I have to say, the goat cheese croquettes at Spork are what grabbed my attention.

    One of my New Years resolutions is to eat out more, so keep the reviews coming!


  • At 21/1/08 12:50, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've eaten at Local twice, and my impressions really have very little to do with the food (which was solid but not terribly exciting). I had reservations for both visits--and both times we were seated at the bar. The first time I thought it was a mistake, but the host told us that these were in fact our seats. Not an ideal setup for a party of three... I doubt that I'll be back anytime soon. There are lots of places where I can eat at the bar without a reservation, thankyouverymuch.

    Can't wait to try Bar Jules and Spork. Thanks for the previews, Sam!

  • At 22/1/08 08:02, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sam, I haven't been to Local Kitchen or Bar Jules yet (the latter is on my To Do list), but I have been to both Spork + Fish & Farm.

    I had great experiences at both places. I've been back to Spork a couple of times now, and have enjoyed every meal there - the stroganoff-bavette is one of my favorite dishes, as is the griddled calamari. They had a pear-pomegranate-whipped goat cheese salad on the menu for a while that was simply divine.

    At Fish & Farm, I was disappointed in the seafood chowder (but then again - I don't think there is any seafood chowder in the city that can compare to Bar Crudo), but loved the cornmeal-crusted fried oysters with pumpkin. Still dreaming about those. The room decor was fabulous - robin egg blue + chocolate brown is ever-so-chic.

    Looking forward to more reviews!

  • At 22/1/08 08:10, Blogger Sam said…

    Catherine - to be fair i think the $12 is for an olive pizza, not just olives. Glad to hear about the fish thing - mabe you'll be able to come to Bar Crudo with me some time?

    Jeanne - I was surprised too that we were seated at the bar with a reservation since my dining partner hates bar dining - it's a good warning for other potential customers - if you want a table insist on one at reservation time.

    Jennifer - well - you were one of the people who inspired my visit to Spork in the first place so we have you to thank. I think you will love Bar Jules. Something tells me you will be well suited.

  • At 22/1/08 20:12, Blogger Catherine said…

    Thanks for that clarification regarding the olive pizza - that's much more reasonable (and I'm into olives right now!).

    I'd love to try Bar Crudo. I had my fish karmic moment when I ordered sea bass to go from my restaurant on Sunday. It's served tableside, but when I got home I found they had given me the whole fish to do myself. After a moment of mortified panic and horror, I calmly "prepared" the fish myself. It was good, and I felt Fate forced me to acknowledge my responsibility.


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