Clever California Bistro
330 Townsend St., San Francisco
Lunch, weekdays, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; dinner, Monday to Saturday, 5:30 to 10 p.m. (till 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday)
Major credit cards, reservations accepted
When I head to a Giants baseball game at AT&T Park, I typically eat at the stadium since I like to go to day games. But occasionally I hit a night game, and that means dinner.
So awhile back when I went to a night game with my friend David, we decided to get dinner first at a nearby restaurant. I couldn’t think of a place near the stadium that I’ve been dying to try, and that’s when David suggested the restaurant Marlowe.
Marlowe, formerly known as South Food and Bar, is the bistro by restaurateur Anna Weinberg. I never realized that it was so close to the stadium, about three blocks away close to the Caltrain station. When approaching the restaurant, the quotes painted on the window reminded me of another more famous bistro in New York.
Another thing that struck me about Marlowe is that it’s a pretty tiny space, although with a sophisticated décor with rich dark wood furnishings. The space felt even more tight when David and I were squeeze along the wall with other diners when the rest of the room was open.
The menu by Chef Jennifer Puccio is a mix of French bistro with California seasonal ingredients. David started with the baby beets and burrata salad ($9), which was a beautiful array of colorful beets and bits of burrata dressed with dill, basil, mint and Aleppo chili oil.
I ordered one of the “potted” starters, which are dishes served in little jars. The one I got was the warm marinated mussels and Monterey calamari ($12). The minced mussels and calamari were served with grilled bread and green garlic aioli. I would put a little of the mussels and calamari mixture on the bread, almost like making my own croistini. While the seafood tasted good, it lacked any real punch in flavor.
For the entrees, both David and I went for Marlowe’s famous burger ($13), touted as the city’s best by a few local reviewers. The burger looked beautiful when it arrived, and quite tall in its bun. It’s typically served with horseradish aioli and fries, but I got a green salad instead. David got the fries, but he’s not a fan of aioli since it’s just a fancy name for mayonnaise.
My burger was cooked perfectly medium like I requested, tasting cooked but still a bit juicy. I like the sprinkle of salt that I could taste as I ate the burger, which is also topped with caramelized onions, cheddar, and shredded greens. It was a satisfying burger, but I have to admit that I don’t eat enough burgers to declare this the best in town.
Side note: There are a few daily specials, and David and I kept eyeing the table next to us who ordered the lamb special. We promised ourselves we would come back for that, but I’m not sure if it’s still on the menu.
We didn’t stay for dessert since we had to run over to the stadium for first pitch, but Marlowe is a nice option for a pre-baseball game dinner, and it wasn’t packed like other bars across the street from the ballpark. Marlowe is a sophisticated but quaint restaurant that’s great for a meal, whether there’s a baseball game or not.
Single guy rating: 3.5 stars (Cozy and Creative)
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
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Clever California Bistro