Canteen: Making Coffee Shops Stylish in San Francisco [CLOSED]

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Restaurant San Francisco

Canteen puts up a stylish front from within Commodore Hotel.

I ate in a lot of coffee shops and diners growing up in New Jersey, but none of them ever had a bookshelf holding a copy of Marijuana Growers Handbook. Hell, none of them ever had a bookshelf. Enter Canteen, Dennis Leary’s stylish coffee shop in San Francisco’s vibrant Commodore Hotel, which not only has loaded wooden bookshelves, but also offers food that’s more intriguing than typical coffee shop fare.

Restaurant San Francisco

Canteen is tiny, consisting of six stools at a green counter, five booths, and a lit-up electronic arrow that points toward the kitchen.

Lamp San Francisco

A colorful Italian-style clown lamp by the entrance is the only other decoration and also serves as Canteen’s business card stand.

Leary’s lunch menu featured a short list of brunch-style options. I bypassed the seemingly sure-fire corned beef hash and ordered two lunch dishes instead.

Duck San Francisco

Sliced duck breast ($10.95) came de-fatted, on a bed of Dijon sauced lentils. Prunes were also listed, but were nowhere to be found. The quacker tasted high-quality, even if it was a dark color I wouldn’t normally associate with duck, and powered a tasty dish.

Salad San Francisco

Smoked mackerel, bitter orange and treviso ($10.50) formed a very good salad, but too light.

Hunks of tender white fish joined a big cabbage bed that looked like radicchio, only not at all bitter. I didn’t taste any bitter orange, which was either disappointing or a blessing.

Sandwich San Francisco

My girlfriend was craving a hamburger. Pork tenderloin sandwich ($9.95) was Canteen’s closest approximation on the menu, served on a soft roll studded with poppy, sesame and pumpkin seeds, slathered with spicy mustard.

The pork was amazing, truly tender, and absolutely delicious. So was the roll. I also found the accompanying pile of diced celery very refreshing.

Chai San Francisco

We each drank big cups of homemade chai ($2.75 apiece) turbo-spiced with ginger.

We were excited to try the only listed dessert, buttermilk cake with blueberry ice cream. It wasn’t even 1 PM, but they already sold out. Our waitress offered tangerine sorbet instead, but it was cold and rainy outside. No thanks. Eager to please, the waitress asked if we wanted a slice of blueberry French toast or a pancake. Negatory.

Considering the simple setting, and how little we were paying, the food was solid. Even if I didn’t get my prunes and bitter orange. I’d be interested to return for dinner, when Chef Leary apparently gets more ambitious. I’m also interested to revisit Canteen’s tantalizing bookshelves. Just for the record, I never inhaled.

Tourist Attractions San Francisco

On the way out, this wheel of offbeat San Francisco tourist attractions was in the Commodore Hotel lobby.

The Presidio Pet Cemetery, Tattoo Art Museum and Musee Mechanique weren’t exactly on my radar before. Now, I’m intrigued.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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