The story: Corridor is the splashy restaurant on Van Ness Avenue positioned as the perfect pre-opera, ballet, concert experience with its proximity to San Francisco’s Civic Center. It opened with the concept of a casual counter-service cafe during the day and a similar casual counter service for dinner with quality dishes. But recently the restaurant owners, Hi Neighbor Hospitality (Stone’s Throw, Trestle) announced that the dinner service will transition to a tradition sit down restaurant, doing away with the somewhat confusion counter-ordering at night.
Why I went: My friend Sylvia was in town and we wanted to get together near a BART station since we were both coming from outside the city, so I suggested Corridor, which is not too far from the Civic Center BART. I enjoyed our dinner that I returned soon after with my niece Margot for another dinner.
The vibe: The open contemporary vibe gives the space an industry chic feel with a mixed crowd of young urban residents living nearby and the older crowd heading off to the opera, ballet or symphony. Much of the older crowd can be found upstairs on the mezzanine, where people with reservations are seated. And downstairs at the communal tables by the bar can be found the younger crowd who seem to come in for cocktails and some small bites.
The booze: Corridor has about eight mixed drinks specialty cocktails on the menu, along with a solid listing of beer and wine, with a California focus. I tried the “Stone’s Throw Pimm’s” (Stone’s Throw is the name of its sister restaurant), $9, made with vermouth, lime and ginger beer. I knew the bar was working with quality ingredients with even the sprig of mint garnishing my drink was so fresh I could smell the mint a mile away. It really got me into a summer feel for this version of the light, classic Pimm’s Cup.
The menu: The dinner menu has a starter section, with a lot of fried options that seem appropriate for a bar menu, followed by four pasta options and six entrees, ranging in price from $16 to $23. One of the vibe I got right away from Corridor’s menu is that is seems to reflect a classic American comfort food dishes like meatloaf, burgers, and pot pies, but all with different twists like the meatloaf that’s part Wellington. But what I also found is that many of the dishes lean on the heavy side, loaded with cheese or cream, which gives them a rich side.
One probably rich dish is the ricotta gnudi, which are often fluffy pasta balls. But ironically, the gnudi wasn’t available both times I went! (Aiiieee.) So instead, I’ve tried the sweet corn risotto ($15) that had a lot of flavor with truffle butter and roasted maitake mushrooms, and the tagliatelle carbonara ($16) that had asparagus and prosciutto, and a jiggly poached egg. The half roast chicken ($19) is a large platter that Margot ordered, and while the chicken was done nicely, it was busy in flavor with a spicy sweet mustard panzanella and calabrian chili vinaigrette. A pan-roasted salmon that I tried with Sylvia was good but we found the chowder style broth a bit too heavy and unnecessary.
My favorite dish: The monkey bread is one dish to go back for. This unique starter ($7) is made like a traditional pull-apart monkey bread but without the sweetness. Instead, the base is cheddar cheese that’s infused into the bread, and it’s lightness makes you think you’re eating a brioche. An accompanying chive oil aioli gives it even more savory flavor. I’m so obsessed with this dish, it’s probably the reason I went a second time with my niece. I will note, though, that it’s not a dish you can eat by yourself. Sylvia and I devoured all of it, but Margot wasn’t into carbs the night I ordered it and I mostly had to eat it and although obsessed, I was unable to finish it, and it’s a kind of bread that must be eaten fresh.
The last bite: Corridor is a great space with friendly servers, and the monkey bread is my obsession and should be yours too if you’re into cheese and carbs. But the otherwise heavy menu makes it a bit of a challenge if you’re looking for lighter options, still it’s a great spot for a last-minute meal because of its walk-in availability.
The rating: 2.5 out of 4 camera snaps
The deets: Corridor, 100 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco. PH: 415.834.5684. Open weekday, 7 a.m. to close; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 4 to 9 p.m. Reservations accepted for mezzanine area, walk-in for main floor. Major credit cards accepted. corridorsf.com
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