This week's tablehopper: casual friday.
Clam chowder with fennel at Citizen Cake.
Hey there, how is everyone doing in their Victorian ice boxes? Let’s just say the wine in my apartment is at a perfect cellar temperature, and I’m coming up with some really disturbing wardrobe choices at home in an attempt to keep warm, kind of a “babushka-meets-hobo” look. I look like I have a screw loose. Maybe a couple. No matter, it’s just my UPS guy who sees me during the day. He can keep it as our little secret. (Shame he’s not one of the hot UPS guys in shorts, because it would be fun to keep another little secret as well. No dice there.)
Since we’re on the topic of secrets, The Bold Italic just posted a mini-interview with me, wherein I mention one of my favorite sandwich shops, where, as my sister put it, “It’s Thanksgiving all year!” And in the completely non-secret category is today’s fresh meat writeup of Plow, which just reopened after a short winter break. You’re gonna want to head on over. Mmm, potatoes.
Have fun hunting down your favorite soups, spicy food, and other things to keep you toasty. Or, in case you’re sipping something strong, toasted.
Cheers! Marcia Gagliardi
New Restaurant Reviews (I'm looking for somewhere new to eat)
There’s a great little greasy spoon in my neighborhood, Eddie’s Cafe, that serves breakfast all day. The Korean owners are friendly and their moves are lickety split, the classic diner food is solid and crazy affordable, and they have the biggest collection of random coffee mugs I’ve ever seen. It’s been on the corner of Divisadero and Fulton for years, and I hope that’s where it stays for years to come.
But Eddie’s is only one part of the breakfast joint spectrum around town. A breakfast that San Francisco does particularly well is our take on a Cali-SLO (sustainable, local, organic) breakfast/brunch. Places like Foreign Cinema, Universal Cafe, Bar Tartine, Serpentine, Bar Jules, and Mission Beach Cafe serve it up. You know the drill: name-checked meats like Nueske’s or Zoe’s, tasty toast made with bread like Acme, farm fresh and organic eggs, seasonal ingredients, and some flourishes like crème fraîche, aioli, or—ha ha, yes, of course—goat cheese.
And it’s time to welcome one more place to the cute Cali-SLO lineup: PLOW. This popular Potrero Hill gem is from husband-and-wife team Joel Bleskacek (Campton Place, Oliveto, 42 Degrees) and Maxine Siu (Oliveto, 42 Degrees)—wine lovers might recognize Joel from the hill’s Ruby Wine, which he opened eight years ago. The place is petite (under 40 seats), but doesn’t feel cramped with its tall windows that run along 18th Street. There’s a counter overlooking the kitchen, and a variety of two- and four-top tables along the wall of windows. I did find it a little chilly, sitting next to the windows in the Tolix metal chairs I’m not too fond of (cough), so don’t take your coat off just yet.
The word has been out on this place since it opened. I imagine the crispy potatoes are partly to blame, which I think emit their own powerful tractor beam. They’re parboiled and then fried and smashed, so you get that one-two punch of a creamy interior and satisfying crisp exterior, plus some onions and herbs that add final flair. Fortunately the potatoes show up as a side on many dishes (you can read more about them here, including how to make a version of them at home). And they’re a dream with a shaking of hot sauce on ‘em—and not just any hot sauce, but in a nice nod to supporting local businesses, it’s Youk’s Hot Sauce from Maverick (this hot sauce hooker is a fan).
The breakfast part of the menu includes featherlight lemon ricotta pancakes ($9) served with pure maple syrup. I recommend sharing these delicate beauties as a “breakfast appetizer” (hey, why not?) since they wouldn’t make the most hearty breakfast if you’re hangry. There’s a more substantial fried egg sandwich ($8.50) with Grafton cheddar (you know you want some bacon with it, $2), or some Anson Mills oatmeal ($6.50), or fruit and yogurt ($8) for the healthier set. I am not in that set, although I should really try. (Le sigh.) I’m much more in the chanterelle-goat cheese-scallions scramble set ($9.75), which took me to breakfast nirvana, and I didn’t even have to meditate to get there. The eggs were fluffy, creamy, perfectly seasoned, and delicious when piled on to the buttery toast that came with the dish.
My friend and I dined there around lunchtime, and let me tell you, I am plotting a swift return for the meatball sandwich ($11, available after 10:30am), which looked like something I’d like to get to know reaaaaaallllly well. There are homey soups, like cabbage and kale with farro ($7); seasonal salads like roasted squash with arugula, pinenuts, currants and ricotta salata ($9); and a grilled cheese sandwich with ham ($10.50) that are all exactly the kinds of lunch items you wish you made for yourself at home. I love it when you dine out and you really get a sense (and taste) of how handmade everything is—speaking of, there are a lot of baked goods here as well. The corn millet muffin ($2.75) was 86’ed the day I dined there, but I guess that’s because it’s as popular as I heard it is.
The place is staffed with friendly folks, matched by the sunny and good-looking design (and it’s hyper local: everyone Plow used to design the place, including their contractor, hails from their 94107 ZIP code). The place is a madhouse on the weekend (I took a look at the line one weekend and just kept going), but you could always put your name in, and then cruise over to Farley’s for an espresso since they only serve coffee at Plow (but very nice Equator coffee, mind you). Then again, the sure-to-be-delicious eggs Benedict is only served for weekend brunch. (I gotta figure out how to make that happen.) I fared much better with a late midweek brunch, but even at 1pm, it was still busy busy. Hey, it’s that tasty—and a perfect breakfast all day is a mighty fine thing (the kitchen closes at 2pm, FYI).
Plow - 1299 18th St. San Francisco - 415-821-7569