Last week I had a dinner to catch up with my friend, Kathy, and we decided to try out the recently opened Bluestem Brasserie. I heard great things about this new hotspot on Yerba Buena Lane, next to Amber India and Press Club, which serves up a brasserie menu of fresh and simply composed dishes.
Named after the indigenous North American grass favored by cattle ranchers, Bluestem Brasserie showcases sustainably produced grass-fed beef from highly regarded purveyors. With a theme of terroir (From the word terre “land,” a French term in wine used to denote the special characteristics that the geography, geology and climate of a certain place creates), Bluestem also has a great wine list and 12 wines on tap, sourced directly from some of Napa and Sonoma’s finest.
The restaurant had a great chic modern feel with lots of windows, a corner bar and even more dining space upstairs. When I arrived, I was promptly seated in a cozy booth and glanced over the menu as I waited for Kathy to arrive. There was no shortage of choices on the menu –one side of the fold-out menu had nothing but cocktails, wine and beer, while the other side had all of the food including appetizers, daily specials and entrees from the land and the sea. It was a bit overwhelming but I’m always a fan of options. When Kathy arrived, we got right down to ordering. We both got a glass of the Qupe Syrah and then since we were famished, ordered a couple of starters. I had oysters on the brain and Kathy was eyeing the steak tartare so we started with those. Then we also ordered our entrees. I wasn’t in the mood for beef so I didn’t try the steak, the house specialty. Instead I ordered the half roasted chicken, which came with a side of mac and cheese (YUM!). And Kathy was torn between the duck confit and the plat du jour, coq au vin, but the waiter said the duck was one of his favorites so she went with that.
We were enjoying our wine and having a great time catching up when our starters came out. We had a half dozen oysters and the steak tartare. The Drake’s Bay oysters were freshly shucked on a bed of crushed ice, served with lemon and their mignonette sauce. Delish! And the steak tartare with a quail egg on top served with crostini was probably the best steak tartare I’ve had. I’m usually a bit squeamish when it comes to raw beef but this steak tartare was super fresh and seasoned perfectly. I can’t wait to go back for more.
The starters definitely got us warmed up for our entrees. Our entrees came out beautifully. My roasted chicken looked fabulous. The portion size was great and it came out on a bed of French green beans and sugar snap peas and was topped with a sprig of rosemary. On the side, I got my mac and cheese topped with crunchy breadcrumbs. The chicken was so moist and juicy and the vegetables were great. The mac and cheese was good but not the creamy, gooey mac and cheese I was hoping for. Kathy’s duck confit was also very good – crisp on the outside but a little dry on the inside. It was served with a frisee salad topped with large croutons, grape tomatoes, green beans, bacon and a poached egg.
After polishing off our deliciously savory meals, we decided to “just look” at the dessert menu. We gave in and decided to order the Honolulu Hangover, chocolate rum layered cake with toasted coconut and marshmallow meringue. See why we gave in? And we were very glad we did. The cake was moist, the meringue was perfectly light and fluffy and the toasted coconut was delicious. It was like a German chocolate cake only lighter and quite frankly, better. We wasted no time polishing it off. It didn’t stand a chance between me and Kathy.
I would definitely recommend Bluestem Brasserie. It’s a great place for a wonderful meal out with friends, a date, a birthday and even a business dinner. There’s definitely something for everyone and it’s in a great location where SOMA meets downtown meets the Financial District (and parking is easy too…just park at the Fifth and Mission Garage). Fabulous food, great wines, awesome cocktails (did I mention they have one called the “Honey Badger?”) in a posh setting – run, don’t walk to Bluestem.
Here’s my overall rating:
Food, drinks and ambiance: 4/5
1 Yerba Buena Lane (at Market)
San Francisco, CA 94103