A restaurant that started off two years ago with a lot of promise now has picked up a Michelin star and is establishing itself as a fine-dining destination in Nob Hill.
Sons & Daughters was created by two friends from culinary school, Chefs Matt McNamara and Teague Moriarty. People didn’t know much about the duo, but their food has garnered much attention. Now, after playing with lunch service and a limited ala carte menu, McNamara and Moriarty offer only a $98 tasting menu for dinner.
I made a spontaneous decision to check out Sons & Daughters last Friday when I was looking for dinner before going to a dance performance. I didn’t realize dinner was only a tasting menu, but I was open to trying the summer menu.
When walking into the restaurant, former home of Café Mozart, you’re greeted by a small open kitchen front and center. I was seated in an adjacent room that was slightly lower and a bit private despite the window view.
Because of the tasting menu, service is accomplished with several people making stops at the table to bring utensils, introduce dishes and remove plates. As for the food, the refined, balanced style of McNamara and Moriarty shines through from the start with a pair of Marin miyagi oyster with salted watermelon and lime granita and a buttermilk chicharron topped with trout roe and smoked crème fraiche.
Sons & Daughters has its own tiny garden in the Peninsula, and the ingredients are featured along with other seasonal, fresh ingredients. An herbal soup of marigold greens was spotted with crunchy radishes from the garden, and purslane accented an Asian-inspired salad of sea urchin, snow fungus and local seaweed.
A beet dish was pleasant but did lack complexity. But a squab breast cooked perfectly and served with a Marcona almond puree was heavenly, the gamey flavor of the squab lightened by the almond.
The restrained but cutting-edge dishes often reminded me of the style of James Syhabout at Commis in Oakland. In fact, a dessert dish of Andante fromage blanc (like a cheese mousse) could easily be served across the bay, the clean flavors of the Andante cheese accented by surprising fresh strawberries and candied fruits.
The tasting menu has an unusual twist when mid-course a mini bread tasting occurs when three types of bread are brought out with the three main courses. First was a miniature buckwheat toast, followed by a sourdough roll and finally a comforting warm soft pretzel bun. All of this was served with home-made butter.
Dinner at Sons & Daughters was a surprise, a relaxing experience that tantalized yet held back for all the right reasons. The price tag for the tasting menu is higher than other similar dinners around town, but it’s worth trying at least once.
The chef partners may not have been widely known before opening Sons & Daughters, but McNamara and Moriarty are definitely making a name for themselves here.
Rating: 3 out of 4 camera snaps
Sons & Daughters, 708 Bush St., San Francisco. PH: 415.391.8311. Open Tues.–Sat. from 5 p.m., tasting menu only. Reservations, major credit cards accepted. sonsanddaughterssf.com