Cheat Sheet: The Tradesman Hits the MissionBy Virginia Miller
August 25, 2014
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The Gist: Just open at the end of July, The Tradesman is East Mission's latest neighborhood bar with upscale food from Zarin Gollogly and Spencer Lafrenz of Harrison Woodworking + Design (they've done custom work for Hog & Rocks, for one), who have been planning this restaurant/bar for years as a locals' hangout.
The Vibe: Given their woodworking expertise, it's no surprise Lafrenz and Gollogly designed the space with plenty of wood, white oak doors, custom tables and chairs and skylights letting in lots of sun (you need sunglasses if you sit under them during the day). Flat screen TVs were off on our recent visits, but they are there for the occasional game.
Yes, these are chicken nuggets [Photo Source: Virginia Miller]
Eat This: Hog & Rocks’ Scott Youkilis assisted them on creating the menu, while Bryan Baker (of, you guessed it, Hog & Rocks) is the chef. The menu is the same for lunch and dinner (there's also weekend brunch) and the small plates and sandwich-heavy menu is blessedly fresh. When bar food is a bit of unexpected — and, most importantly, delicious — it stands out above the rest. Case in point: we've seen beets and burrata paired countless times over the years. But instead of being ho-hum, Tradesman's version ($10) partners strawberries with golden beets, texture from crumbled peanut brittle and a chili jam bringing savory heat to the dish's creamy summer sweetness.
Fried chicken nuggets ($12) sing in a Thai chile fish sauce with black garlic dehydrated and crumbled on top. The comfort of broccoli and cheese gets reinterpreted as grilled romanesco and broccoli ($10 - pictured above) perky in a vinegar-laden shallot mustard vin and dusted with house made cheddar cheese crackers. But the destination dish is already apparent and lest we seem obvious, it's a burger ($16). Not just any burger, though. Gleefully fatty ribeye is dry-aged for 21 days and melded into a thick patty with cheddar and peanut butter, served on a sesame brioche bun. We've had peanut butter-slathered burgers before — and love them. But this one is a delicate balance of PB and cheese — just enough of both to make the whole thing melt, tasting like happy dreams of childhood.
Oh, that Cheddar Peanut Butter Burger! [Photo Source: Virginia Miller]
Drink This: GM Curt Polikoff has created a thoughtful wine and beer menu. In fact, his wine flights ($14-20 with 3 wines each) are a pleasing range of themes from Something in the Air (aromatic whites - currently a pleasing range from Rioja, Alsace and Santa Barbara) to Hella Props to Cali (including wines from great under-the-radar CA regions like Santa Lucia Highlands and the Central Coast). There are nearly 30 international wines by the glass — we love the fruit-heavy yet joyously acidic 2013 Torre die Beate Montepulciano Rose from Abruzzo, Italy ($12 a glass/$45 bottle), with the burger. Eight rotating beers on tap might include Dogfish Head's 61 American IPA or a lovely Cuvée des Jacobins Rouge Flanders red ale from Belgium.
For Fans Of: Magnolia Pub & Brewery, Bartlett Hall
The Damage: Feasting on 4 plates and 2 drinks added up quickly to $90 but it was more food than 2 people needed and we could have done with one less plate.
The Verdict: This is well above average pub food and reaches further than typical gastropub fare to keep it from being commonplace. Though some of us may miss spirits and cocktails, the wine and beer list is strong enough to ensure a fine drink with fine food. The already rife-with-great-hangouts Mission didn't need yet another spot like this (while other 'hoods do) but it's a win for the neighborhood nonetheless.
753 Alabama St.; 415-814-2276
A new take on burrata and beets [Photo Source: Virginia Miller]
Prior Cheat Sheet coverage on Zagat San Francisco:
Red Hill Station, Bernal Heights, SF
Lure+Till, Palo Alto
Captain & Corset, Oakland
Piattini, The Mission, SF
Kaiju Eats, The Richmons, SF
Gashead Tavern, The Mission, SF