Once a popular Hawaiian restaurant (and reportedly a brothel and speakeasy way back when), the space at the corner of Masonic and Geary Boulevard is now home to the Corner Store.
Owners Miles Palliser and Ezra Berman envisioned the 7-month-old restaurant as a gathering place for the neighborhood. So it was an appropriate setting for a community gathering of food bloggers last week sponsored by Urbanspoon.
I joined the blogger gathering aka UrbanHour as we took over the covered patio with heaters keeping us warm on a slightly rainy San Francisco night. As I chatted with new blogging friends, we got a tasting of the Corner Store menu and got insight into the food by Executive Chef Nick Adams, formerly of Salt House.
The casual restaurant has a quirky but refined menu, with food that plays off a few American classics but still has touches of an upscale pub as Adams tries to stretch his vision of a seasonally-driven menu.
An example of the refined dishes – which do sometimes seem out of place in a restaurant where the popular entrée is a burger – is the “Duck Duck Mousse” ($9), a sophisticated plate of duck liver mousse served with tea smoked duck breast and infused foam. The lightly textured mousse played nicely with the contrasting flavors from other ingredients such as blackberries.
Adams seems to like to present plates that are complex, even in the simplest types of dishes like the popular Corner Store burger ($13), which was cooked medium and flavored with bacon jam and pickled red onions.
The pickling flavor is a familiar trait in other plates (and I’m not complaining because I love the use of sour flavors to cut into the richness of some foods), such as in a special kale salad Adams previewed for our group (he’s planning to add it to the menu and I wholehearted vote for that). The crispy kale salad, which featured an incredible poached egg encrusted in panko, also had what tasted like pickled enoki mushrooms.
Sometimes the experimentation does take an odd turn, like in the Corner Store PB&J ($10), a play of the traditional peanut butter and jelly but this was bourbon glazed pork and huckleberry cooked into jelly form, served on a grit cake. I found the jelly to be an odd accompaniment to the pork. It might have worked if there were just a few drops of sweet huckleberry, but it was smeared all over the plate.
The last bite
The Corner Store, which has a robust cocktail program, is like a beacon in a generally quiet section of Geary Boulevard at the entrance of the Inner Richmond. It’s the kind of place I wished I could say was around the corner where I lived so I could drop in and hangout often.
Note: I’m not giving my typical rating because this was more an event than my regular restaurant reviews. Thanks to the people at Urbanspoon for the invite!
Corner Store, 5 Masonic Ave. (at Geary), San Francisco. PH: 415.359.1800. Open Tue.–Fri., 11:30 a.m.–2 a.m.; Sat.–Sun., 10 a.m.–2 a.m.; closed Monday. Reservations and major credit cards accepted. www.thecornerstore-sf.com
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