Last week's weather was so ridiculous. Freaking cold. I was rocking a babushka/homeless look at home with fingerless gloves and my blanket wrapped around my shoulders, and was ready to light a trashcan on fire in my apartment for warmth, all hobo style. There was so much rain the animals were lining up two by two (my friend strongly suggested leaving mosquitoes behind, I concur). Brrrr, cold and wet. These are the times when I want MAN FOOD. Now, the Americana cuisine at ~MAVERICK~ isn't just for dudes, but it definitely has a male POV--it's hearty, zesty, and maybe not the best food to eat every day if you want to watch your figure, but you sure are glad it's around when you need something substantial. It also has little missteps here and there, kind of like a bumbling dude, but is still nice and charming enough to keep getting more dances or dates from you.
Let's warm up with some smooth carrot and leek soup, shall we? Mmmm, I am feeling better already. Smells sweet, like honey. Butternut squash fritters, anyone? Dang, a touch mushy/oily, but I really liked the cumin and coriander yogurt sauce and the bed of mizuna topped with crunchy pumpkin seeds, total winning flavors. Speaking of flava, you can also start with barbecue meatballs, a combo of beef, veal, and lamb, kickin' it in a smoky spicy chili BBQ sauce that the kitchen also uses on ribs. I wasn't sure what to do with the toasted slices of baguette, but I liked the drizzle of crème fraîche with the sauce.
There's really not much to dislike about a slightly warm and wilted chicory salad, is there? Especially when it's topped with a poached egg, a shaving of sheep's milk cheese, and house-cured pancetta. OK, so, not all the apps are bad for you--there are a couple other salads that are slightly healthier, and vegetarian-friendly to boot. Too bad I don't usually have the willpower to order such things.
Maverick is a cozy little spot, so the menu follows suit, with six mains. I had never had lamb steak, and I don't think they're serving it anymore, which is a cryin' shame because this cut was amazing (it was grilled round bone steak, from the shoulder). Extra wicked with maitre d' butter melting over the top. And a side of buttery and crispy-topped celery root and white turnip gratin for good measure. Dude.
People love the fried chicken here, with a spicy-sweet-peppery crust of cinnamon, paprika, chili, and oregano. It's a good juicy bird (buttermilk-soaked Mary's free-range chicken, to be exact), and I was way into the collard greens made with less vinegar than elsewhere, yum. Plus it all comes with grits and andouille sausage gravy. Uh huh.
Other mains one night included grilled mackerel, pork tenderloin confit, braised veal shoulder, handkerchief pasta in cauliflower cream sauceâ¦ yeah, maybe you should walk here, and home too. You live in the Marina? Fabulous, you can burn off that side of mac and cheese hoofing it home over the hill.
Dessert is all about comfort classics, or post-breakup indulgence favorites, like warm milk and cookies (all $7), or chocolate bread pudding with a fleur de sel caramel sauce (they could sell this sauce and make lots and lots of money).
Folks go nutso for the weekend brunch--it's a cult classic in the neighborhood. There are migas for those of you who lament you can't find them anywhere, duck confit hash, and all kinds of evil and delicious things to motivate you to get out of bed.
Owners Scott Youkilis (executive chef) and Mike Pierce (GM/wine director) previously worked together at Sociale, which is why your wine glass will be primed a little before it's served to you (it's a Sociale thing). The list rotates often and is full of little quirks (love the Blanc de Blanc Gruet from New Mexico), but mostly features wines from California. Don't miss Mondays, when the wine is 40% off. All of them. Every Monday.
Scott and Mike work really hard, and they're super nice--they've created a great community of regulars here. I have a lot of respect for how committed they are to their restaurant: they use quality ingredients, they are close with their customers, I am impressed with how their website is always up to date, and they even write a newsletter. They also just launched a new quarterly magazine called Out of the Kitchen with stories and recipes--you can pick it up at the restaurant. Oh, and Scott makes Youk's Hot Sauce which I reach for weekly to put on my eggs, soup, and cereal. Oops, that last one was a mistake.
The space is small, with a communal table that's good for a group in the front room, and then there's the low-lit main room, outfitted in deep wood, with cheerful walls the color of pumpkin. I am always happy to see my friend Trey's light-up stereo boxes glowing on the walls, including the ad hoc map of the US. You'll note thoughtful little details, like hooks under the table for your purse, and you'll be brought an amuse bouche once you sit down. You'll also discover how the enormous plates and heavy water glasses tend to take over the small two-top tables, kind of like a big guy on a bus taking up a bit too much room.
Since it's right off Mission Street, you might get a bit of "local flavor" outside, but you also get a mostly hip Mission crowd inside. Maverick is an ideal spot for a first date with someone because it's not too quiet or romantic, but lively enough to be fun; the food isn't intimidating or pretentious, and you can order a full spread and still get out for $100. And if you come here for date number three, you can come back for brunch the next morning, ha ha, you dirty dog.
3316 17th St.
Cross: Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94110