Hidden Gem: The New Red Hill Station in Bernal Heights
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The Gist: Red Hill Station may just be the next great neighborhood restaurant. Open since mid-June, it certainly is a seafood restaurant, although one of their top dishes is linguine and meatballs — or if you prefer, a meatball appetizer — in a hearty, stewed tomato red sauce. If this seems incongruent, it's not. Bernal Heights residents and owners, Taylor Pederson and Amy Reticker, came from one of San Francisco's greatest seafood classics, Anchor Oyster Bar. Red Hill reaches for that level of laid back comfort while attempting more ambitious dishes. And, oh, those sizes! We cannot get over the massive portions of food for around $17-$19 a plate.
Eat This: But it's not just about size. Order grilled Monterey calamari ($17.95 - pictured above) and prepare yourself for a spread of squid tentacles artfully lounging over a crunchy, lightly charred romaine heart resting in a bed of black fig jam. Roasted tomatoes and figs add another layer of sweetness while a slab of yellow squash imparts fresh notes of summer. In presentation and composition both, it's far from your typical grilled calamari dish. The aforementioned basil-laden pork meatballs ($8.95 as an appetizer of two in red sauce, $18.95 as a linguine entree) are a must. Though dishes change daily based on freshness and availability of seafood, a rightly popular offering so far has been a rich Coos Bay oyster pot pie ($18.95 - pictured below). It's a massive stew, laden with 6 or more plump oysters, potato, leeks and fennel, with a meltingly good puff pastry graced with a strip of Marin Sun Farm smoked candied bacon resting atop the stew.
Drink This: There's four wines and four beers on draft with changing, California-centric offerings.
Oyster "pot pie" [Photo Source: Virginia Miller]
The Vibe: Soft blue walls and pleasing, colorful artwork line the cozy dining room, with an intimate, eight-seat dining room up a few steps in the back corner, plus a few seats lining the back wall looking straight into the kitchen. Gaze up to see a glowing Red Hill Station sign a friend designed with materials of steel and mixing bowls.
The Damage: Dinner for two (with leftovers) with a glass of wine each and dessert was reasonably around $80.
The Verdict: As mentioned, in two short months, Red Hill already succeeds at feeling like a destination neighborhood restaurant. But they also deliver seafood in ways you have not seen it before — and portions that more than ensure value. What we've tried thus far is delicious. We can't wait to return.
Bonus: The plan is to soon open for lunch and throughout the afternoon with an in-house fish market selling fresh seafood of the day. Currently it's only open dinner, Thursday-Monday.
803 Cortland Ave.; 415-757-0480
Red Hill's cozy space [Photo Source: Virginia Miller]
Prior Cheat Sheet coverage on Zagat San Francisco: