UPDATE: Soon after dining here, the restaurant closed temporarily and then shuttered for good in August 2016 because of business decisions.
The story: Bon Marche is a French brasserie from the Mercer Restaurant Group, which brought us AQ and the now closed TBD. Opening last August, the spacious restaurant is in the so-called Mid-Market area in San Francisco in the Twitter building, and the kitchen is helmed by Chef Matthew Sieger (formerly Cafe des Amis).
Why I went: A couple of weeks ago I was at a food event with my friend Brenda, who pens the delightful Bites and Bourbon, and we were still hungry. (Yes, it happens.) So we decided to go to the nearby Bon Marche on Market Street. It was the first time for both of us.
The vibe: This was a Thursday night and the restaurant was nearly empty, which made the vibe almost like a library. (With the recent closure of Cadence, also on Market Street, I wonder if the Mid-Market corridor can support all these high-end restaurants opening up.) The 7,500-square-foot restaurant actually has a cheery decor, what I would compare to a spring bouquet. The idea was it’s supposed to be like a restaurant inside the famous Paris department store Bon Marche, and I felt they achieved that feel with the bright orange awnings and flowers everywhere.
The booze: There’s a full-service bar up front that serves an extensive in-house beer program along with the typical wine and specialty cocktails. I passed on any drinks, though, so can’t say much more on the topic.
The menu: On the week we dined there in June, Bon Marche has just introduced its new dinner series where every week a prix-fixe four-course dinner is offered for $68 per person. For our menu, we started with a snack course of house-made charcuterie and potato chips with caviar creme fraiche, followed by the first course of Jambon de Bayonne, or jamon salad with compressed peaches and pickled yellow wax beans. The second course was a raviolo of brandade with charred leak consomme and preserved lemon, followed by the third course of roasted duck breast with flageolet beans and sauce poirverade. Dinner finished with a baked Alaskan
My favorite dish: While all the dishes were especially beautiful (these are some major Instagram-able plates), the one Brenda and I both raved about was the main course of roasted duck breast. The duck breast was cooked perfectly, and all the accompanying ingredients blended well and was so satisfying to eat.
The last bite: There’s definitely some talent in the kitchen because like I said above, the plates are sophisticated and beautiful, like the raviolo that looked like it was floating in a pool of golden petals. Still, some dishes maybe might have needed some editing because there were a few off flavors, IMHO, like the preserved lemon in the raviolo’s consomme or something bitter in the pickling juice of the wax beans in the jamon salad. This modern take on a brasserie is ambitious but may need to bring back some traditional flavors to bring some balance.
The rating: 2.5 out of 4 camera snaps
The deets: Bon Marche Brasserie & Bar, 1355 Market St., San Francisco. PH: 415.802.1700. Open lunch, Tuesday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:3o p.m.; and dinner, Tuesday through Saturday, 5:30 to 9 p.m. Closed Mondays. 20% service charge included in check. www.bonmarche-sf.com
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