Salmon tartare with citrus. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Herring, new potatoes, crème fraîche, and spring onion. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Cured halibut, radishes, and grapefruit. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Chicken liver mousse and red onion jam. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Brunch: open-faced brioche sandwich with egg and arugula pesto. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Exterior of Local’s Corner. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Interior. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Chef-owner Jake Des Voignes. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Corner businesses are an American tradition: corner stores, corner restaurants, corner cafés. A bit off the beaten path in the Mission is ~LOCAL’S CORNER~, which looks like it’s been there for years, but it was actually a corner deli before. Owners Yaron Milgrom and chef-owner Jake Des Voignes (also of the nearby Local Mission Eatery on 24th Street) created a pleasing turn-of-the-century look, complete with a pressed-tin ceiling, hand-painted wallpaper from Benicia, two levels of paned windows, maroon wainscoting, bent cane chairs and marble-topped tables, and original Douglas fir floors. The dining room is petite, but the outdoor tables boost seating options. And coming in for dinner at dusk, well, let’s just say you can’t ask for better dinner date ambience.
Des Voignes is a wicked talented chef, and he has assembled a strong team in the minuscule kitchen here, which doesn’t happen to have a stove. Yeah, that’s not the easiest situation, but it’s always interesting how some restaurants work around that limitation. The menu here is seafood-based, but that doesn’t mean it’s all raw. Some of the seafood is cooked sous vide, and curing is another trademark of the kitchen, and you’ll see smoked fish as well. Des Voignes is an obsessive about sourcing, using only the best local and sustainable seafood he can find. The seafood is extraordinarily fresh and really shines in the kitchen’s clean presentations.
While most seafood restaurants in San Francisco are all about the classics, this place is more about an inventive California perspective—and beautiful plating, with the prettiest little radishes or citrus suprêmes or perfectly diced potatoes (you will definitely pick up on Des Voignes’s fine dining background and skills). There are a variety of oysters to start with (most are $2.50 each, unless you come for happy hour, with two-for-one oysters every Tue-Sat from 2pm-6pm).
There are many small plates to work through in the “Sea” section, like the refreshing crab ($13) with snap peas and Cara Cara orange, or the rich smoked herring ($9) with new potatoes and crème fraîche. The seasoning varied a bit on one visit (the salmon tartare [$12] was underseasoned, while the cured halibut [$13] was a bit salty), but once we started eating all the components on the plate, it ultimately balanced out. One of the few larger dishes to try is the king salmon ($24)—exquisitely tender, almost custardy, and pleasantly topped with a few pieces of crisp skin. Do note that the menu is more tailored for sharing than ordering individual dishes.
The “Land” section of the menu holds the oh-so-silky chicken liver mousse ($6), a hefty scoop with red onion jam on the side. Humina. There are a number of fantastic vegetable dishes (back in May there was roasted asparagus [$6] with almonds and shallot vinaigrette, a brilliant pairing of flavors) and some snacky plates like pork rillettes ($11) or beef tartare ($15). And you definitely want the bread and butter ($3), with lightly toasted bread generously studded with sunflower seeds.
The staff can help you choose (and taste) wines off the all-California list, with most by-the-glass selections hovering around $10. The vin gris by Santa Cruz’s Birichino ($7) is a steal and an easy wine to pair with the lighter seafood dishes.
A friend and I came for the weekend brunch, a prix-fixe affair for $18. We had a blast at our outside table on a warm Mission day, drinking our bottomless cup of Sightglass coffee (okay, there was some sparkling wine at our table too), unanimously crowning the open-faced brioche and egg sandwich the winner, with a sparky arugula pesto and cloud of Microplaned goat gouda on top. You also get toast, butter, and preserves, and we had a choice of granola or chilled carrot soup or a cheese plate. And you have the option of ordering Knead Patisserie’s pomme d’amour ($3.50), one of the city’s finest treats. You really should say yes to that option, trust.
My brunch partner in crime was looking at me over our meal, saying, “Damn, this place is so perfect right now. Why do you have to write about how great this brunch is? Why can’t this stay a secret?” I sometimes have those moments, asking myself the same thing. But then it would take all the fun out of my job.