845 Market St.
4th floor/Suite 402
Cross: 5th St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
9, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO
mall isn't usually on the top of my preferred dining destinations
list, nor am I a fan of chain restaurants, but the meal I recently
had at ~LARKCREEKSTEAK~ definitely made me reconsider
my "rules" (and I really don't have many dining
rules, except no fast food, which is soundly broken about once a
year when I hit the drive-through, guiltily ordering up an Egg McMuffin
and hash browns—blame it on the hangover).
here we are, on the fourth floor of the Westfield Centre (don't
you dare call it Center), about to enter Mister Bradley Ogden's
and Mister Michael Dellar's latest venture, and I'll
be damned if my nose didn't quiver. The smell of smoke and
char and grill and meat was wafting through the intimate dining
room, and it awakened a very visceral part of me, the one that suddenly
wanted some MEAT. NOW. I felt like I was about to bust out a Teen
Wolf transformation right there in the booth.
this place doesn't make you wait for long for some meat: after a
small shot of a nonalcoholic palate cleanser (one night it was pomegranate
with apple cider soda), some warm biscuits arrive at the table,
with a spread of pecan butter, maple syrup, and andouille sausage.
Yeah, you heard right: meat butter. I would not protest if this
becomes a nationwide trend. Meat butter: it's what's for breakfast.
you hear "mall" and "steakhouse," you wouldn't
exactly expect to find an appetizer like Dungeness crab salad and
cauliflower panna cotta ($12) on the menu, would you? It was a delicate
layered dish, with a minute and precise dice of Fuji apple, with
madras curry, chunks of crab, and a bright carrot emulsion made
with crème fraîche on top. Welcome to steakhouse 2007,
baby. While this isn't exactly Craftsteak or CUT, it's
certainly not like our other old school carnivorous outposts around
town, either. (Ruth's Chris anyone? Didn't think so.)
include the carpaccio of marbled Wagyu ribeye from Masami Farms
($17) that almost looked like salame Toscana with its luscious fattiness,
offset with the tangy bite of caper berries, cool hearts of palm,
peppery radish and micro arugula, and shards of rich Parmigiano.
A touch too much salt on the meat, but otherwise a well-balanced
your non-Chicago residency with the foie gras ($19), served with
thick sear marks (and flavor) from the wood grill and a dusting
of salt flakes, plus a petite round of fruit bread pudding and a
perfect poached pear that rivaled some of the poached pears I have
tasted in haute restaurants—not a hint of mealiness, and the
picture of the season. In fact, many dishes here highlight what's
in season—it's like a modern Cal-French steakhouse.
this point, I was like, whoa, my pinky is raising a little. The
food here is seriously elegant and packing a pedigree: gastriques,
mirepoix, emulsions… The gentleman behind all these classy
touches and details is Chef Jeremy Bearman, who was formerly the
Executive Sous Chef at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Vegas, and
Executive Sous Chef at Daniel Boulud's db Bistro Moderne in New
York. Yup, Bearman has chops, and he knows what to do with them,
too. A chef of his caliber can't be satisfied with a menu solely
of steaks and chops—so be sure to dabble around in the apps
for a taste of Bearman's flair and talent.
also find some Ogden classics on the menu, like a Caesar salad,
and a Yankee pot roast in the $29 prix-fixe dinner. One dish that
didn't measure up was the basket of fried Ipswich clams ($15)—they
arrived over-breaded and lukewarm. I also have an issue with doilies
on a plate, which was what the basket of oysters was resting on.
Doilies should be outlawed, unless you are using one to make a Valentine.
is also a pan-roasted sweetbread ($15) that might give some folks
pause—you read it correctly, you get one big sweetbread. It
was a spotlessly clean one, mind you, and quite a refined dish,
with accompanying players of roasted endive, parsnip puree, and
grapefruit segments that all had their part in the performance.
But unless you've been eating in a bouchon recently, you may
find the big ole sweetbread is definitely unabashed in its presence,
unlike other places around town that tend to serve them at a more
honking presentation was the pork chop ($25)—what arrives
is a Fred Flintstone-sized bone-in chop. Like, wham, there it is.
Wiillllma! Granted, this hulking piece of meat is an Eden Farms
Berkshire chop that has been slow-roasted for three hours, but whew,
it cuts a serious form. Like, dude, you been working out lately?
server mentioned some folks are put off by how pink it is, thinking
it's underdone, not knowing that pork doesn't have to be lifeless
and grey to be done. Think pink, people. It's totally delicious,
with a jasmine rice, pecan, and dried cranberry pilaf underneath,
and a drizzling of whole-grain mustard that completes the porky
portrait. (This is the pork that shows up in the Cubano sandwiches
where's the beef? Oh, it's here, let me assure you.
The menu features prime across the board, from New York strip (9
oz. $26/14 oz. $36) to bone-in ribeye (16 oz. $35/dry aged 16 oz.
$42) to a 28 oz. porterhouse for two ($39). All sorts of purveyors
were sourced for each cut of meat—the best purveyor for each
cut would win, so what you're getting is straight-up beef
perfection that is then grilled masterfully over fruitwood and charcoal
tried the bone-in ribeye, and the smoke on it was subtle, savory,
on pointe. The steak was ridiculously juicy and tender, and fully
delivered on the promise of the meaty fragrance when I first walked
in. I think I have found my perfect steak in SF. It's moments
like these that really remind me why I eat meat, and crave meat.
The side of grilled chicory and red onion was a nice touch that
reminded me of a good spinach salad made with bacon drippings—I
didn't even consider the complimentary side sauces, like the
signature sauce, béarnaise, garlic butter, horseradish, Maytag
blue cheese butter… talk about gilding the lily.
the steaks and chops are served a la carte, of course there are
a ton of sides, like beer-braised Brussels sprouts, creamed spinach,
mascarpone polenta, and six other options from which you can choose
two, for $7. The sprouts and spinach didn't particularly send me—I'd
rather save my calories and precious space for the starters instead.
(Like I’m really counting calories, har.)
case you haven't gathered this already, the menu is pretty
huge: there are also salads, soups, seafood, poultry, and oh yeah,
let's not forget the dessert cart. Yeah, there's a big
ole cart piled high with treats that looks like something out of
Willy Wonka. And Pastry Chef Chona Piumarta is out to get you.
chocolate hazelnut napoleon is four layers of pure evil, including
a crispy bottom layer that put me over the edge, made with salt,
praline paste, dark and bittersweet chocolate, and yes, crunched
Rice Krispies. Other unexpected elements include sprinklings of
candied carrot with the scrumptious carrot-pineapple cake, and the
Meyer lemon cheesecake comes with spiced pistachios.
haven't had desserts with these kinds of touches in a while, and
all of them are well composed—it's about the balance of all
the flavors converging together, from the salty layer with the chocolate,
to the acidity of the lemon with the cheesecake. And all of them
are only $5 (a nice respite after what you just coughed up for that
steak, even after opting for the smaller 9 oz. size).
wine list is all-American, with a number of good choices by the
glass that won't break the bank, and others worth spending a little
more on. Service can appear a little scattered or disjointed at
some moments (getting a glass of wine may prove to be a lengthy
process), but it was also friendly and knowledgeable.
main room is actually quite small, with only room for 68 under the
wood-beamed ceiling that gives it a barn-like quality, along with
the pastoral artwork featuring hay bales that appear Thiebaud-like
(if he wasn't so obsessed with cakes) and a playful room divider
of flowers and grass made of glass and steel. There is also a spacious
private room that just opened, the Larkspur Room, which can seat
crowd is casual, made up of a hodgepodge of power shoppers, families,
couples out on a date, and post-work types unwinding in the bar
area. Personally, I think the ringside seats at the (amazingly quiet)
exhibition kitchen are the way to go—you could pick up some
top-notch grill tips, and lord knows this is the place to do so.