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 Wedge (little gem, buttermilk, pickled shallot, Pt. Reyes blue cheese, candied bacon) $9

The Wedge (little gem, buttermilk, pickled shallot, Pt. Reyes blue cheese, candied bacon) $9

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.

Polished Plates
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.

Special Kale Salad with panko-encrusted fried soft-boiled egg (soon to be on the menu)

Special Kale Salad with panko-encrusted fried soft-boiled egg (soon to be on the menu)

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

The Corner Store on Urbanspoon

View of the chefs at work at the open kitchen

View of the chefs at work at the open kitchen

Shaved Winter Salad (root vegetables, celery root, county line chicory, grana padano, balsamic vinaigrette) $8

Shaved Winter Salad (root vegetables, celery root, county line chicory, grana padano, balsamic vinaigrette) $8

Buffalo Sweetbreads (Frank’s Red Hot sauce, celery-radish salsa verde, blue cheese) $10

Buffalo Sweetbreads (Frank’s Red Hot sauce, celery-radish salsa verde, blue cheese) $10

This is what happens at dinner with bloggers ... the photo-taking comes first

This is what happens at dinner with bloggers … the photo-taking comes first

Co-owner Miles Palliser and Chef Nick Adams share their vision of Corner Store

Co-owner Miles Palliser and Chef Nick Adams share their vision of Corner Store

Duck, Duck Mousse (duck liver mousse, tea smoked duck breast, kumquat, seckel pear, blackberry) $9

Duck, Duck Mousse (duck liver mousse, tea smoked duck breast, kumquat, seckel pear, blackberry) $9

The Corner Store Burger (Niman Ranch chuck, aged cheddar, pickled red onions, bread and butter pickles, garlic aioli, bacon jam, French fries) $13

The Corner Store Burger (Niman Ranch chuck, aged cheddar, pickled red onions, bread and butter pickles, garlic aioli, bacon jam, French fries) $13 (the skewers don’t typically come with the burgers, it’s just that we were sharing the burger during this tasting event)

A closer look at the chefs at work

A closer look at the chefs at work

Capturing a shot of the Idaho Red Trout dish

Capturing a shot of the Idaho Red Trout dish with PEI mussels

Dessert was a delicious bread pudding with a generous scoop of ice cream

Dessert was a delicious bread pudding with a generous scoop of ice cream

Not quite what you would imagine a corner store to look like but definitely a place to gather in

Not quite what you would imagine a corner store to look like but definitely a place to gather in

8 Responses to Urbanhour Spotlights Corner Store in San Francisco

  1. Carolyn Jung says:

    LOL Any blogger gathering means lots and lots of time for taking photos before digging into the food. Hope it all wasn’t too cold before you finally dug in. ;)

  2. Row says:

    The kale salad looks amazing! My kind of salad. And that bread pudding with ice cream… wow! :)

    • Ben Ben says:

      Yep, those were my two favorite things! The kale salad, along with the amazing panko encrusted soft egg, also had crunchy home-made croutons. And the bread pudding was almost like a fancy fruit cake because there were all sorts of things in it like orange peel and nuts. So nice.

  3. hungry dog says:

    I still mourn the loss of Hukilau but glad something interesting has popped up in its place. I need to check this place out. I am a fan of Salt House…

    • Ben Ben says:

      I’ve never eaten at Hukilau. Have you tried Grindz on Clement? It’s modern Hawaiian. I’m going to post about them in a few weeks.

  4. hungry dog says:

    Ben, we tried this place on friday night and LOVED it! Everything we had was delicious–wedge salad, roast chicken, pork chop, sundae. Special cocktail. So glad this place has opened up not too far from us!

    • Ben Ben says:

      Glad you liked it. It’s a fun little spot for the neighborhood. If it was around the corner from me, I’d drop in more often.

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