Soon after the restaurant Finn Town opened in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood, I visited with my friend Craig to check out its brunch. I fell in love with the restaurant’s handsome decor and the refined comfort food coming out of the kitchen.
Much as changed since then, with the major change being in the kitchen where opening Chef Ryan Scott moved on and Chef Steve Dustin (Big Night Restaurant Group) now behind a revitalized menu. The approach is still the same vibe of American tavern, but the quality of the food might be a bit better. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I recently visited Finn Town for dinner with my friend Carolyn, who pens the required-reading Food Gal blog. Carolyn was invited as a guest to check out the new menu, and I was happy to tag along.
After almost a year and despite the shuffle in the kitchen, the spot still seems popular with the neighborhood crowd. The front bar, where we sat, was packed, starting with the happy hour crowd and then later people looking for a spot for dinner because the main dining room was full.
When Carolyn arrived, we dived into the menu. The eclectic feel still remains from when I visited for brunch, with basically a listing of people’s classic favorite American dishes. There’s also a list of specials of the day, and on the Thursday night we dine, the special was “Friendsgiving,” a plate riffing on a Thanksgiving.
That actually turned out to be the main ordered by Carolyn, who enjoyed the upscale presentation of the herb roasted turkey breast, served with confit leg stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy ($22). I order the tuna casserole ($26), which came out definitely NOT looking like any tuna casserole I’ve had in the past. This was creamy egg noodles in a cheddar sauce topped with seared tuna steaks along with maitake mushrooms.
Even though it didn’t look like a tuna casserole, the flavors were reminiscent of that classic dish. I marveled at home Chef Dustin could elevate this homey dish but still retain that nostalgic flavoring.
The innovative approach was clearly on display in the other dishes we tried, including our starters of grilled English peas ($6) served like edamame but interesting with the added lemon zest, and the seared squid ($15), which was beautifully plated and equally tasty with pancetta, olives, fingerlings potatoes and lemon aioli.
I’m generally not into bread, but Carolyn will never pass a plate of good bread, and I’m actually glad that she ordered the Fanny Farmer rolls ($7) that were light and airy and so soft to hold. Sigh.
Side note: I did try one of Finn Town’s specialty cocktail called the “Mae West” (all the restaurant’s cocktails are named after San Francisco luminaries), and while it looked pretty like a blonde bombshell, it did seem a bit weak, not quite balanced between the brandy, sherry, and orgeat. I also recall that a spicy Bloody Mary I had for brunch was especially spicy, so balance may be an issue with some of the drinks from the bar.
The last bite
Having a fun brunch experience, it was a pleasure to find out that dinner is just as fun and interesting. Under Chef Dustin’s helm, it looks like the vibe of classic comfort food is still there, and it’s nice to see that the refinement provides a nice visual flavor to the dining experience.
Because I was a guest of the house, I’m not using my typical rating. But this is a spot that’s pretty popular and I can see why.
You can also read Carolyn’s take on dinner in her post here.
The deets: Finn Town, 2251 Market St., San Francisco. PH: 415.626.3466. Open dinner daily from 5 to 11 p.m.; and weekend brunch, 10 am. to 3 p.m.; and weekday happy hour. Reservations, major credit cards accepted. finntownsf.com
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