Where to Eat

Fig-Gate Behind Us, Bon App Pays Tribute to the S.F. Restaurant ‘Explosion’

At right, the kitchen at Saison.
At right, the kitchen at Saison. Photo: Aya Brackett/Bon App

Remember that whole kerfuffle over David Chang’s remarks about S.F. restaurants? Figs on plates, all that jazz? “Well,” says Bon Appétit in their April issue, “that is just so 2009 [itals ours], because the twelve months after Chang’s crack saw the greatest explosion of San Francisco restaurant openings in modern memory, with a single message trumpeted by all those ambitious new menus: The future of Bay Area fine dining has arrived.” You hear that? We’ve arrived, or our future has, and they go on to lay down their national-print-mag stamp of approval on nine restaurants, which will definitely see an uptick in reservations from the foodier tourists this summer.

Their list of where to eat now, and it seems ranked:

1. Commonwealth: “On a downscale urban block in the hip, multiethnic Mission District, virtuoso chef Jason Fox harmonizes a dizzying array of international ingredients.”

2. Saison: “The open wood fire allows chef Joshua Skenes to create a distinctive cuisine, conjuring deep, soothing umami from a bowl of bonito dashi with toasted grains and greens, followed by a big slab of roasted beet and bone marrow.”

3. Bar Agricole: “Smoked black cod croquettes pack a wallop under their crust, and the chopped liver on toast is a delight.”

4. Sons & Daughters
: “New American Cuisine with a touch of molecular gastronomy is showcased here, with four courses going for a reasonable $54.”

5. Heirloom Café: “This charming bistro has high ceilings, old wood floors, and a bar overlooking the open kitchen, which serves new takes on simple fare like marinated-beet salad.”

6. Prospect: “A dazzling SoMa space with floor-to-ceiling windows and a brilliantly complex menu.”

7. Wayfare Tavern: “It serves nostalgic menu items like abalone, Dungeness crab, and the Gold-Rush-era Hangtown Fry, blending local eggs and bacon with fried oysters.”

8. Cotogna: “The copper bar glows near the wood-burning pizza oven; the aroma of spit-roasting pork fills the rustic dining room; and pastas include a raviolo filled with ricotta and an egg yolk that breaks under your knife to bleed into a brown-butter sauce.”

9. Benu:
“Corey Lee, former chef de cuisine under Thomas Keller at The French Laundry, swings for the Michelin-starred fences with profoundly original eastward-looking dishes.”

San Francisco Travel Guide
[Bon App]
Earlier: Middle Fingers Raised Toward Chang, S.F. Chefs Proudly Serve Figs on Plates [Grub Street]
San Francisco Magazine Welcomes the New Dawn of Not-Just-Farm-to-Table Chefs [Grub Street]

Fig-Gate Behind Us, Bon App Pays Tribute to the S.F. Restaurant