Bluestem Brasserie: An SF Favorite Stays Ahead of the Dining Curve
While Napa’s restaurant game is and has always been lit, even those within walking distance of favorites like Rutherford Grill and Ciccio need to explore now and then. If culinary wanderlust has you pacing, head to San Francisco and check-out Bluestem Brasserie where a unique combination of assets has allowed owners Stacy and Adam Jed to maintain its popularity within an ever-evolving dining scene. Obvious factors credited to its desirability include delicious food, ample bar offerings, and welcoming décor. Harder to manufacture are atmosphere and warmth, two Bluestem strengths that have evolved nearly as organically as the ingredients utilized in Executive Chef Trevor Ogden’s menu items. Now going on seven years, Bluestem Brasserie has found the code for culinary success. The combination includes:
A Star Chef: Recently appointed Executive Chef Trevor Ogden brings his knowledge of classical French, Japanese, and modern cooking techniques to Bluestem to create a wide variety of new seasonal options. Using his creative vision and experience from hot spots such as Park Tavern, Umami Restaurant, Mission Beach Café, and Chambers Eat +Drink, Ogden has fashioned a menu filled with bright flavors and fresh ingredients from local farmers’ markets. He continues the restaurant’s vision of focusing on hyper-local, market-driven American fare and whole-animal butchery.
An Eclectic Menu: Ogden maintains the familiar brasserie menu of fresh, simply composed dishes, but he’s added his own spin on the hyper-seasonal menu. His overhaul is modest yet perceptible, with a concentration on bright flavors that enliven signature dishes – many of which are meant to be shared. Don’t miss the Trout “Pastrami” Tartar mounded high on thick toasted rye with house-made sauerkraut, Russian dressing, arugula, and horseradish. The always popular Chicken Liver Toast features seasonal toppings atop a thick slather of whipped chicken liver mousse on toasted levain. A beautiful mélange of marinated beets is enhanced with citrus, fresh wasabi, and duck fat toasted oats and is an example of the heartiness of veggie offerings. Vegetarians and vegans, who often feel that restaurant menus pay them no mind, will love Bluestem’s menu. Incredible satisfaction can be found for instance in the Farmers’ Market Vegetables – an entrée so pleasurable that carnivores may denounce their meat allegiance.
Ogden’s new weekend brunch menu, available Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00am – 3:00pm., includes egg-centric dishes, a ‘savory and sweet’ section, and Trevor’s interpretation of the restaurant’s signature brunch items. Highlights include Beignets with lemon curd and cappuccino fudge, Buttermilk Biscuits & Gravy with pork sausage and country gravy, and a Burrata Frittata with seasonal vegetables, arugula, and baby greens.
Chef Trevor continues to work closely with Pastry Chef, Lori Baker, on the dessert menu, which focuses on playful, American desserts with an extra refinement such as the Gimme S’Mores with housemade graham crackers, marshmallows & dark chocolate pudding, toasted meringue, and The Schnockered Apple with apple bread pudding, bourbon buttermilk caramel, cranberries, vanilla ice cream.
Atmosphere: A big city vibe permeates Bluestem’s dramatic interpretation of a classic American brasserie, though a welcoming earthiness is suggestive of its Midwest prairie grass name. (Don’t miss a peek at the artistically LED lit bar, designed to mimic firefly light in a meadow.) The famed Olle Lundberg-designed space features floor-to-ceiling windows, soothing earth tones, and soft lighting. Reclaimed hardwood floors and tabletops are a nod to the Jeds’ sustainable sensibilities. Despite the size of the place and the perpetually packed house, sounds and conversation are muted so that diners can easily converse. At 1 Yerba Buena Lane, between 3rdand 4th Streets and surrounded by the city’s cultural attractions, high-end retail, and luxury residences, the location provides a front row seat to the urban stage just outside its doors.
Bluestem Brasserie, One Yerba Buena Lane, San Francisco
Article by: Fran Miller