Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dish on Dining: The Corner

Tasty Food with a View of Humanity
2199 Mission St. (at 18th), San Francisco
Mission District
PH: 415.875.9258
Open daily from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (till 11:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays)
No reservations, major credit cards accepted

When you tell your friend to meet you at the restaurant at the corner, you want to be specific and say the one at 18th and Mission in San Francisco because it’s The Corner restaurant you don’t want to miss.

The Corner can actually be easy to miss because it’s a small place in a former Chinese corner grocery spot called Wang Fat Market. The exterior is painted lacquer black (with the old embossed Wang Fat Chinese characters still visible but painted over). A few months ago they added the word Corner in gold to make it stand out more.

Since it’s a small spot, it can fill up pretty quickly. I visited The Corner one night with my friend Ken when we were thinking of checking out happy hour in the Mission. But we couldn’t come up with any interesting happy hour deals (do you know any good ones in the hood?) so we decided to just check out the Corner since I’ve never been there.

The Corner is by the same people behind Weird Fish, which is right next door. But The Corner is more like an Italian wine bar although it’s not heavily Italian but more Californian in the cuisine. Still, there definitely is wine to drink and they actually had a happy hour deal of $1 off any wine by the glass.

Ken and I both ordered a glass of Barbera to start, and it was so good we ended up drinking three glasses each that night (and now I’m thinking we probably should have ordered a bottle instead but we got carried away by the happy hour deal).

For the food, there are a lot of cheese and charcuterie plates to choose from, along with an assortment of small plates and a few entrée dishes. I noticed it also had a lot of vegetable-heavy dishes, which was great for Ken since he’s mostly vegetarian (I say mostly because he also eats fish).

We just ordered a couple of small dishes each since we were in the happy hour mood. Ken started with the Slow-cooked Tuna with aioli and anchovy relish ($5.50), which he enjoyed. He offered me a bite but I have to admit that I always think of canned tuna when I eat cooked tuna, which is why I always order it slightly seared or raw.

I had the Roasted Cauliflower ($4.50), but I made the wrong assumption that it was going to be a big roasted cauliflower. I should have continued reading because it was really a big salad filled with black-eyed peas, fregola, a few radish slices and marjoram vinaigrette. There were only a few roasted cauliflower florets, so it really shouldn’t get top billing. Still, it was a refreshing and hearty salad, with a nice large portion for a starter.

Next up for Ken was a Treviso salad ($7.50). Treviso is the fancy Italian radicchio that leans on the burgundy color in the leaves. The salad came with roasted tomatoes, roasted Kohlrabi, farmhouse cheddar, cashews in a sherry vinaigrette. Again, it was a very hearty portion and great for vegetarians like Ken.

I had the Veal Sweetbreads Stroganoff ($9.50), which made me think my new rule in dinner should be always order the sweetbreads (like how I always say I should order duck if I see it on the menu). I’ve never had a really bad sweetbread dish and this was among the best. The sweetbreads (the glands of the animal) were pan fried with crispy edges. It was served with a bit of cencioni pasta and king oyster mushrooms and mizuna (a kind of Japanese green like arugula). What I loved about the combination of flavors from the sweetbreads and the pasta was the slight vinegary taste that cut into the richness of the sweetbreads.

Even though we just ate two plates each (and three glasses of wine), we both felt very satisfied from our starter meal at The Corner. And the place is so aptly named because the full plate window walls at the corner of the restaurant with counter seating gives you a clear view of the intersection of 18th and Mission Streets and all the comings and goings of the people, which in the Mission is always interesting.

The Corner is a fun, tiny spot with entertaining food that’s affordable and tasty. It really lives up to its wine bar image, even though the owners resist being labeled that way. Whatever they want to be, The Corner is staking out its spot in this gastronomic hotspot of San Francisco.

Single guy rating: 3.25 stars (Something for everyone)

Explanation of the single guy's rating system:

1 star = perfect for college students
2 stars = perfect for new diners
3 stars = perfect for foodies
4 stars = perfect for expense accounts
5 stars = perfect for any guy's dream dinner

Corner on Urbanspoon

Other restaurants on the corner:
Beretta: “Hip to Pizza and Cocktails in the Mission”
Thang Long: “Celebrating the Dungeness Crab”
Nopa: “Clean Flavors in the Spotlight”


Carolyn Jung said...

Sweetbread stroganoff? Whoa! That definitely banishes my memories of gloppy stroganoff made with canned soup in the mix. The Mission is just such a cutting-edge place for food these days. You can spend a whole day there exploring and still not be able to sample everything.

Hungry Dog said...

The menu sounds great! I'm not the hugest fan of Weird Fish but I will definitely give The Corner a try.

foodhoe said...

That stroganoff dish definitely... I once went to weird fish, liked the atmosphere the best.