Sardine chips and roasted beets. Photo by Michael O’Neal; courtesy of Rich Table.
Plancha bread with plums, Mt. Tam cheese, and arugula. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
The rustic dining room. Photo by Aubrie Pick; courtesy of Rich Table.
The front dining area, complete with a bar and window seats. Photo by Aubrie Pick; courtesy of Rich Table.
The powerful rise of exciting California cuisine has gone from a groundswell to big-wave surfing with the addition of ~RICH TABLE~ to the local scene. Chef-owners Evan and Sarah Rich hail from some top New York kitchens and hit the ground running in San Francisco (Coi, Michael Mina, and Quince) before taking over the former Paul K space in Hayes Valley. And like a couple thoroughbreds … they’re off!
Their pedigree explains a lot, because their cuisine strikes the perfect balance of casual California with technique and a soigné sensibility. The ever-changing menu is a bit like State Bird Provisions—you show up and it can be almost completely different from your previous visit. The menu is full of dishes of varying sizes, from bites to entrées that never seem too large (I love this kind of menu format), and the ingredients are top shelf in their sourcing. The kitchen also understands texture well.
The cult dish (yes, already) is the sardine chips ($7), with a filet threaded through a crisp potato chip that you dip into horseradish cream—it’s the new gourmand’s hot pocket, and the construction is quite genius. In a nutshell, that’s what this place is about: inspiration. You can see the kitchen churning on new flavors and combinations: squid, fig, and lardo in a salad with crispy onions; chicken lasagne with a béchamel made with Douglas fir powder.
A price to all this innovation is that sometimes a dish doesn’t have the time to fully mature before it gets swapped out for something else—a few have definitely clanged, like a salty dish of tajarin (the $16 price tag for the six bites also hurt on that one). But then you get wooed with dishes like thickly sliced roasted beets ($12) with a trio of sunflower elements (seeds, sprouts, and petals) and duck fat vinaigrette (I was calling them “beet steaks”); or the nightly plancha bread ($12); or a brilliant salad of watermelon with squid, arugula, and black olive vinaigrette; or the lightly toasted levain ($4), bright with wild fennel. Yeah, so very delicious. For dessert, a Concord grape granita hit the perfect final note.
The Euro-centric (and food-friendly) wine list by Maz Naba, in a word, rocks. You’ll be inspired (peep the reserve list), and many selections are available by the carafe. There are downright pretty cocktails, like the Land’s End ($10; St. George Terroir gin, Monterey cypress) that is like a mist from Northern Californian coastline.
The room falls into our city’s classic salvaged wood-meets-industrial look, with light tones of gray and cream—a friend pegged it as Amish Nordic. It’s approachable, a place where you’ll be greeted warmly, can hang out with friends, listen to the Black Keys or soul in the background, and enjoy a wicked tasty meal. Nay, inspiring.