Every once in a while, napaman strays from his wine-country beat to discover a hot new restaurant, or bar, in San Francisco.
Call me Wanderlustman . Or SFman, if you must.
Until now, my three, all-time, favorite SF restaurants (in alphabetical order) are:
+ Cotogna, the sister restaurant to Michelin-studded Quince, to which it is adjacent.
I swoon at the pizzas and pastas served at this neighborhood Italian eatery. My taste memory returns time and again to brilliant dishes, which I have enjoyed here.
Cocktails, served by a highly capable team, are as good as they ever have to get.
If you are lucky enough to have eaten at Roscioli, one of the truly great, casual, restaurants in Rome, then you will appreciate what chef/owner Michael Tusk has achieved at Cotogna: the fare here is superb and as memorable as anything I have ever eaten at Roscioli.
+Delfina; we have loved everything Craig Stoll has served us at his Italian restaurant in the Mission for something akin to 20 years.
Craig’s calamari and white bean appetizer is the best starter on any menu in town. I don’t think it’s ever come off the menu... with good reason.
His pastas are simple yet sublime; Craig understands that the essence of taste resides in how few ingredients are used to make pasta sing, not how many are incorporated. Most often, in the kitchen, “the more the muddier.”
Delfina pastas, like those at Cotogna, are Top of The Class.
+ The House, where Angela and Larry Tse serve the best Asian American fare I have ever tasted; their Ahi tuna BLT, served at lunch, is a contender for “best sandwich in America” and is, for sure, worth a detour.
I once drove 150 round-trip miles to have this sandwich. It is that good. For that matter, everything on the lunch and dinner menus here is sensational. And as small as the place is – that’s how big your welcome will be.
And now there’s a new restaurant in town, which, even though only three-weeks old, has vaulted onto my short list of Favorite San Francisco Restaurants:
It’s easy to miss the front door of this small restaurant. For simplicity’s sake, remember that it’s on the west side of Jackson St. at the intersection of Columbus Ave.
The restaurant is the brainchild of Ryan Cole and his partner teammates.
More about him, and them, in a minute.
Trestle serves a three-course prix-fixe menu nightly for $35 a head. The menu changes every few days so what you fall in love with tonight may not be on the menu the next time you return.
Among the items on the prix-fixe menu the night I dined here:
+ The best falafel I’ve ever had, creatively worked into a first-course salad.
I asked Ryan to keep this on the menu forever. Or suggested he start a take-out falafel restaurant where hungry customers can get one of these tasty, not greasy, ethereally light, falafels on a 24/7 basis.
+ A delicious roasted carrot soup served with croutons of – can you believe it? –
crisped-up carrot cake! As tasty as it is original, zipped along with ginger, colored with a “pesto” made from finely diced carrot tops.
For an additional $10, you can order one of two delicious pasta offerings, prepared with the care and attention you’d expect to find at a serious white tablecloth destination.
The winner pasta on my visit was a small plate of tiny ravioli filled with a short rib forcemeat, served with a gremolata and horseradish soubise, which was so tasty the dish could have been served with a straw to slurp up the sauce.
Less successful were the gnudi, a variation of gnocchi, which are made with ricotta instead of potatoes. Trestle’s pudgy pillows were napped with a sauce incorporating pesto.
A sensational roasted chicken was served here
Of the two main courses offered, the winner was the thyme and garlic roasted chicken, a generous, boned portion so tender that it could be cut with a fork.
The moist chicken was served atop a mound of creamed corn kernels, which tasted like something out of a Michelin-starred kitchen.
The other “mains” option was a crispy skinned branzino, served with charred scallions and a salsa verde. It wasn’t that the fish dish was weak; it was just that the roasted chicken outshined it for composition, flavor, color, and taste.
Two desserts were offered: a fudgy, dark chocolate brownie capped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and an equally short-lived, bread pudding crowned with a spoonful of whipped mascarpone.
Hey! What’s with the short half-life of these desserts? They disappeared from their respective dishes in the time it takes for a meson particle to vaporize in the CERN particle collider, in Switzerland. POOF! ... they instantly vanished!
Who would have guessed that Ryan and his culinary team were into advanced, particle physics?
There is a well-thought-out wine list here, a smart beer list and an applause-worthy, wine-by-the-glass program.
Interior of Trestle
The three-course dinner starts out at $35 per person, but with the added $10 pasta course, a glass of white wine, then a bottle of red wine, we drove our bill for three to $75 per person. Even so, the dinner was still easily a value proposition.
We came away with smiles so wide that we looked like poster children from a Crest toothpaste ad... those After The Dentist Visit kids who are beaming with Grand Canyon-sized smiles.
Trestle delivers a HUGE knockout punch of pleasure, small as the place is in size.
Elements of the prix-fixe dinner at Trestle change daily, or every other day. Tonight’s appetizer might appear for a day, or two, while the pasta and main course may remain unchanged for a few consecutive days, but then they’ll change, too.
By the end of three, or four, calendar days, you can expect all the items on the menu will change. This is good news if you’re a regular patron... but sad news if you get hooked on one of the dishes as we did. Damn it! Those falafels were tasty critters! Or should I say fritters?
Partners in Trestle, left to right: Cyrick Hia, Exec chef Jason Halverson, Front of House Operations Tai Ricci, Jason Kirmse, and lead operator/owner Ryan Cole.
How’d the restaurant get its name?
A trestle is defined as one of the earliest interpretations of a dining room table – a framework consisting of a horizontal beam supported by two pairs of sloping legs, used to support a flat surface -- such as a tabletop.
And who’s this guy Ryan Cole behind the venture?
Although he graduated with a degree in Finance and Hospitality Admin,
Ryan was sidetracked early-on by his love of wine. As a Kopf Scholar, he traveled the world, learning the intricacies of winemaking.
Ryan’s restaurant years include stints as Wine Director and Manager at Clio restaurant in Boston, then Bastide Restaurant in LA, which he helped earn 3.5 stars from the LA Times.
From there, Ryan joined Bay-area superstar Michael Mina, opening three restaurants for the renowned chef, including his eponymous, Michelin-starred dining room in San Francisco, which was chosen as Esquire Magazine’s US Restaurant of the Year.
Out on his own, partnered with a talented kitchen and front room team, Ryan has already turned heads at two San Francisco locations -- Stones Throw, 1896 Hyde St., and Fat Angel, 1749 O’Farrell St.
And now, there is his newest jewel in the crown, Trestle.
Trestle, 531 Jackson, St., at Columbus Ave. 415-772-0922.