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Marla Bakery Opens in Outer Richmond: What to Eat

By Virginia Miller
June 26, 2014
Photo by: Virginia Miller

As of June 20, Marla Bakery has morphed from a beloved pop-up and Mission bakery to an Outer Richmond restaurant. Just-married owners Joe Wolf (Wise Sons Deli) and Amy Brown (Citizen Cake) worked together — and fell in love — at Nopa. Soon after, they launched Marla at farmer's markets, with dinner pop-ups and their Mission take-out window and kitchen, Marla Bakery Kitchen Communal, which remains in operation.

But this is Marla's first foray into the full-service restaurant world. Menu items will change daily and seasonally. This week, we stopped in to see the space and for an early taste through baked goods and breakfast-y items, lunch and Brown's desserts. The inviting decor is marked by cool blue-and-white walls, glowing lighting, rustic tables built by Amy's father, artwork by her brother and a giant, custom wood-burning oven where they churn out daily breads. Outer Richmond has gained a heartfelt, all-day restaurant and bakery that has a familial, cafe vibe right down to the alt-country soundtrack. There's love in the details, and you can feel it from the warm welcome of the staff.

We look forward to returning for dinner and wine director Chris Deegan's (also of Nopa) wine, beer, cider and (yes!) sherry list. Breakfast and lunch started this Tuesday and dinner will roll out Thursday-Saturday, starting on July 3. Then on July 5, communal, one-seating Sunday Suppers and weekend brunch will begin. You can book reservations at one of a handful of small tables via Open Table3619 Balboa St.; 415-742-4379

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    Marla Bakery's bagels are a best-seller at their Mission take-out window and are sure to be the same in Outer Richmond. Dense with an appropriately crisp "shell," what puts their bagels over the top is the fluffy house farmer's cheese on top and the pickled vegetables on the side. 

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    Loaves of breads ($3-$6) are baked fresh daily and available for takeout, as are pastries ($2-$7), all best savored with coffee from local Wrecking Ball Coffee. Favorites from the Mission bakery are here, including the popular Marla Roll, subtly sweet and savory, laced with cardamom, coriander, ginger and black pepper (pictured right), or a moist, flaky Savory Turnover (left), filled with that house farmer's cheese and green onions.

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    There's a soft glow inside the intimate dining room.

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    Chef de cuisine Emiliana Puyana goes for farm-fresh dishes and gourmet comfort on the lunch menu. As straightforward as it sounds, a whey-braised beef brisket sandwich ($14) with a side of kale and shaved carrot salads doused in toasted pumpkin seeds and lemon vinaigrette was our initial favorite. Their crunchy-soft bread soaks up beef jus from the tender, fall-apart meat, while fried onions and horseradish aïoli provide the needed contrast. It all coalesces into sheer comfort. We loved lively, sparkling housemade shrubs (vinegar-based drinks, pictured above) to cut through the richness of the meat, particularly the fresh-sweet of apricot-vanilla balanced by vinegar.

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    You won't mind eating your peas and carrots ($8) this way. There's garden-fresh crisp English peas, yellow snow peas, sugar snap peas and shaved carrot strips, while a pool of carrot purée adds creaminess and preserved kumquat vin (tart kumquat preserved in wine) makes it pop (we could have used a little more of the latter). 

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    Cucurbita pepo squash soup ($8) is soothing on a foggy Outer Richmond day. There's a house whey cracker to dip, while the highlight — a mound of soft, "mustardy" farmer's cheese crumbled in the middle — makes the soup feel a bit decadent.
     

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    Smoked sturgeon salad ($8) shines because of the impeccable sturgeon. This isn't fishy or cold sturgeon but fresh, clean and subtly smoked. Over a pool of slightly-too-salty celery crème fraîche, crunchy lemon cucumber and slivers of radish keep it light and refreshing.

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    A slice of cherry clafoutis ($6) nails the simple perfection of the classic French dessert: not too sweet, moist and gleefully tart with gorgeous summer cherries. A scoop of crème fraîche ice cream sends it over the top. Or you might crave the earthy chocolate riches of an elegant chocolate-caramel tart ($6).

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    Ice creams and sorbets almost steal the show. While intensely floral, light nectarine hyssop sorbet and a lush tayberry (a cross between a blackberry and red raspberry) and cream ice cream shine, it's a clean, gently sour buttermilk sorbet that we long for again.

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    The Paxton Gate-designed back garden and porch is one of those idyllic, secret city gardens that are tucked away all over SF. This immaculate space hosts an herb garden and fruit trees, which will factor into dishes served at Marla.

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