This up-market Bernal Heights diner features Cook/Owner Cory Obenour’s seasonal comfort food in a casual setting. The restaurant’s been around since 1999, and it’s more popular than ever. Thanks to San Francisco Chronicle critic Michael Bauer’s recent rave? Whatever the reason, it’s certainly a worth a stop to taste the dishes Obenour is producing with organic ingredients.
Other than the EAT sign, the exterior doesn’t give much away. Inside, there’s a counter from what was undoubtedly a diner in its former life. In the front room, which features a bar, there are paintings of bulls on the walls. In back, there’s a red room with cool paintings, and a chandelier. We got a booth by the front window, looking out at Mission Street.
The grilled hearts of romaine ($10) was a winner thanks to the inclusion of crisp lettuce, crumbled applewood smoked bacon, slices of avocado, juicy cherry tomatoes and a generous amount of the hard Italian cheese grana.
My coriander crusted lamb ($14) appetizer was infinitely more complex. The slices of lamb were a little bland on their own, but I really enjoyed the fried garbanzo bean cake, garbanzo beans and green tomato raita, an interesting take on the tangy Indian yogurt sauce.
Blue Plate meatloaf ($15) is a signature dish for good reason, with a nice outer crust and a luscious interior. It was paired with a mound of chunky mashed potatoes and snap-fresh summer beans -kidneys, wax and green.
I don’t normally order chicken at a sit-down restaurant, but the preparation sounded too good to skip. A peach-glazed chicken leg and thigh ($21) came with sweet grilled peaches and were set upon a bed of frisee and warm bacon-studded corn kernels. Everything about this dish shouted summer.
Most comfort food restaurants tackle mac & cheese. And a lot of them have a similar approach, normally combining three or four cheeses in a crock. Thankfully, Chef Obenour kept it simple, and added a twist, drunken Spanish goat cheese ($7). The creamy white cheese was excellent with the elbow macaroni, and had a nice golden top.
Although we were somewhat tempted by the warm chocolate baby cake with “cold foamy sauce” and the raspberry swirl sundae with warm chocolate and pistachios, it’s summer in San Francisco, meaning lush fruits. We craved the blueberry nectarine pie with vanilla bean ice cream, but they’d sold out. Instead, the four of us split a slice of coconut cream pie ($7), which was totally sumptuous, topped with a big dollop of whipped cream and toasted coconut shavings.
We could have done without the woman with the irritating cackle at the bar, who was completely sloshed. Hopefully that was an isolated incident. As for the food, I was pleased with most of the dishes and could easily see returning to The Blue Plate on a weeknight.