This is the third location of the ~CHEZ MAMAN~ empire, and they found a très charmant spot to set it up in: the old Night Monkey space on Union. It's a little off the beaten path of the main drag of Union, so if you need a location for a slightly incognito lunch with your lover (i.e. not your S.O.), you could probably get away with it here. (You heartbreaker.) Remember, we're getting Frenchy here. Get your Belle de Jour sunglasses on.
Out front there are a few tables with classic bistro chairs for those who like to dine al fresco, and there's a patio in the back which I hope they'll be getting set up for outdoor seating before the summer is up. There's also a little private room/nook in the back of the restaurant with a table that could seat 8-10 folks or so—ideal spot for an intimate birthday dinner gathering. I wouldn't want to be in it during the day, however—it's vampire dark back there.
Met a pal here for lunch, and while the quesadilla section is a little disconcerting to see fraternizing on the menu amidst the crepes and mussels marinière and Niçoise salad, it's their beloved burger ($9) that pulled me in. The French can really do good things to a burger, it's true. The roll is the softest thing—it's like it's part brioche, part bun. Squish squish. Delightfully fresh. Some might complain the burger was too small for the bun, but the patty size was just right in my book. It was wicked juicy, with a nice herby taste, and cooked a just-right medium rare. Why do they rock their burgers so hard? They just do. A touch too much Roquefort cheese (Did I say that? Too much cheese?) but otherwise a winning burger for sure. You can even get an egg on your burger if you so wish. (I'm not the only one out there, thank God.) Also comes with caramelized onions on the side, and aioli too, thankyouverymuch. You can choose a side salad, or killer frites with a dusting of herbs. You're already in on the burger, so go the whole hog and get the frites for crying out loud.
Pal had a chicken/pistou/tomato/roasted pepper panino ($9), which is grilled and served in a cute heart shape. Awwww. Tomato was mealy (it was out of season, duh), but we'll forgive them. Remember that heart.
While the space doesn't have the cute cramped little counter vibe of the original on 18th Street, it does have pleasing apricot walls with that classic imprinted wainscoting whose exact name escapes me right now (anyone?), ladies lunching at copper-topped tables, men having mid-day red wine sessions at the small counter (with hooks underneath, always a thoughtful detail), some electronica on the sound system, and some bona fide French waiters who will either charm you, annoy you, or ignore you—perhaps all three.
Dessert, if you're up for a piggy lunch, should be the Nutella and banana crepe ($7). There's also the option of a crepe Suzette ($6.50), or of course crème brûlée, chocolate mousse, and other Frenchy standards. It's how to say oink in French.
2223 Union St.
Cross: Fillmore St.
San Francisco, CA 94123
Open daily 11:30am-11pm
Brunch Sat-Sun 10:30am-4pm
Dessert crepes $6.50-$7