The story: Finn Town Tavern in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood is the latest venture of local celebrity chef Ryan Scott (“Top Chef” and frequent “Today Show” guest), and in many ways it’s his most established spot to date after dabbling with a food truck and then a casual eatery (Market & Rye). This full-fledged restaurant opened a couple of months ago on Market Street.
Why I went: My friend Craig and I were getting together for brunch, and we’re always looking for new places in the Castro neighborhood so decided to check it out. Because it’s been getting some buzz since opening in December, I was only able to get reservations for Sunday brunch on the early side.
The vibe: There’s a club room feel to the space, almost like the lounge area of a hip hotel. I thought the color scheme and handsome multi-colored leather chairs at the bar gave off a unique vibe, setting this space apart from many of the recent California restaurant openings with natural wood furnishings. During brunch, it was a mix crowd of young and old, but at peaks times it definitely trends young and fun.
The booze: With a large bar at front, you can expect a full menu of beer, wine and specialty cocktails ($12 each). Of course, I had to try the FinnTown Bloody Mary since it was brunch. Craig went for the “Pear Shaped World” made of bourbon, manzanilla sherry, lemon, spiced pear, and apple cider (the drink is dedicated to San Francisco musician Chris Isaak, as was a few other cocktails named for singers and actors like Rudolf Valentino and Tony Bennett).
I like a spicy Bloody Mary, but this particular one was especially spicy, almost to the point that it was difficult to drink.
The menu: The large menu has an array of items from typical brunch-time sweets like bear claws, doughnut holes and silver dollar pancakes, to salads and avocado toast and different twists to brunch favorites like three types of egg benedicts (there’s a vegetarian version that Craig ordered and a fried chicken version that I didn’t). While co-owner Scott is the executive chef, the kitchen is supported by chef de cuisine Jason Raffin (Fish Story, Bin 38).
Craig and I both enjoyed our starters, which included the silver dollar pancakes ($8), and the unique and fun French Toast Fingers ($10), rectangular sticks of French toast that’s crispy on the edges and soft inside, balanced with a brown butter cream cheese frosting and huckleberry syrup. But our main dishes of egg benedicts were a bit muddled with the full plate of eggs benedict (I got the Salmon Eggs Benny, $19) with spiced avocado, marinated cucumbers, chimichurri, salad and potato cake. Craig’s veggie version looked just as muddled and busy, with all the ingredients mushing together and getting a bit mixed up. (I did enjoy the potato cake, Finn Town’s version of a hash brown.)
My favorite dish: Hands down the French Toast Fingers were both our favorite dish for its unique presentation, balanced flavors, and well-executed toast.
The last bite: Finn Town is a charming new space, and the menu, while sometimes a bit over done, offers a nice variety of things with unique spins that make it worth exploring.
The deets: Finn Town, 2251 Market St., San Francisco. PH: 415.626.3466. Open dinner daily from 5 p.m.; and weekend brunch, 10 am. to 2 p.m. Reservations, major credit cards accepted. finntownsf.com
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