Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dish on Dining: Maverick

Refined American Classics for Brunch and Beyond
3316 17th St. (between Mission and Valencia), San Francisco
Mission District
PH: 415.863.3061
Reservations, major credit cards accepted

I feel like I’m at home when I dine at Maverick. Probably because the tiny Mission restaurant is painted in the same shade of chocolate brown as my studio apartment.

The restaurant’s smart color choices aside, what comes out of the kitchen is just as pleasing.

Last Sunday, I had brunch at Maverick with a bunch of fellow food bloggers. We weren’t there necessarily because San Francisco Magazine readers had just voted Maverick as the No. 1 brunch spot in the city. We were there to give a send off to one of the bloggers, Passionate Eater, who is leaving the city for the Big Easy. :(

The tiny restaurant is divided into two rooms—the main dining area with several small tables and the front area with a high communal table adjacent to the servers’ counter (with a cut out looking into the kitchen) where completed orders are picked up. We initially sat at a table in the main dining room, but thanks to the late addition of the husband-and-wife blogging team of Bunrab, we were bumped up to the larger communal table in front! This offered us a bird’s-eye view of the kitchen, our fellow diners and the busy host working the phone up front.

[Speaking of the host, I can’t continue without telling you about this part odd/part interesting incident. While we were all seated looking anxiously at our menus, I was busy sipping my Peach Bellini (sparkling wine with fresh peach puree). Well, at one point I was about to take another sip of my delicious Bellini when the host ordered me to stop. That’s when he pulled out a spoon (why he carries a spoon still perplexes me) and stuck it in my drink and then started to vigorously stir my Bellini to perfectly blend the bits of fresh peaches that had foamed up to the top. “Proceed,” he then directed me. Not wanting to disappoint him, I did. While what had just happened was a bit startling to me, everyone seemed impressed by the proactive service of the host to ensure that my Bellini was blended to perfection.]

Maverick’s menu reflects American cuisine from all around the country, made refined by choice local and seasonal ingredients. For example, on the brunch menu you’ll find things like cornmeal buttermilk pancakes and Po’ Boy (a New Orleans favorite).

One blogger, Foodhoe, went for the Po’ Boy, which looked really yummy but I wasn’t prepared to eat a big plate of fried stuff (the fried oysters inside the Po’ Boy along with a big plate of French fries). A couple of people ordered the cornmeal pancakes and the Texan Migas, which was basically scrambled eggs with black beans and avocado.

I ordered the duck confit hash. Now, some of you may remember that I generally slam anyone eating duck confit because like paté, I just consider it fat, fat and more fat. But something about duck confit mixed into a hash made me decide to forget about my cholesterol. The hash had a nice crispness to it, contrasting nicely with the two huge poached eggs on top and the savory taste of the shredded duck leg meat in a light mushroom cream sauce. It was hearty and refined at the same time.

Side note: In an early San Francisco Chronicle review soon after the restaurant opened two years ago, Michael Bauer placed a big emphasis on the noise factor. (And yes, he felt it was too loud.) The owners apparently took note and they point out on the Open Table Web site that they’ve soundproofed the room and it’s now quieter. It’s definitely easier to hold a normal conversation, but I do have to say their sound-stereo system seemed to be on the fritz because the music playing sounded almost like ringtones from a cell phone.

Overall, everyone seemed to enjoy their dishes, which reflected an expert hand in the kitchen in executing the meals. Judging from the steady crowd of people coming in and out, others seem to like this neighborhood restaurant as well. (Most people seem to have caught on to the idea that they should make reservations ahead because I didn’t see a crowd of people hanging outside waiting for a table.)

Maverick delivers creative American dishes in a big way in a somewhat small room. Judging by its brunch, I can’t wait to come in for dinner.

Single guy rating: 3.5 stars (Foodies come back again and again)

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

Maverick in San Francisco


Passionate Eater said...

That bellini incident was "interesting," definitely! Dang, from your description of your entree, I now wish that I would have ordered the duck confit. Also, I had no idea about the noise levels! The only time I noticed the noise was when the "curious" music started playing out of the speakers near us midway through our meal. :)

It was so wonderful to meet you, thank you so much for coming and for your gift! Hopefully, we will meet again soon!

Single Guy Ben said...

With all the laughing at our table, I bet the noise level at Maverick increased back to the time that I bet that if Mike Bauer was there he would give us some pretty daggered stares!

Unknown said...

SCG it was fun hanging out with you guys and I hope to eat with you again soon!

heehee I forgot about the spoon-nazi... didn't he want to come with us for ice cream too?

Chubbypanda said...

I completely missed the spoon incident. Did that happen before I got there?

Single Guy Ben said...

Chubbypanda, it may have been after you and Cat arrived. I know we had just moved over to the big table after the Bunrabs arrived and were starting to read the menus while we waiting for you two.