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The Tablehopper

Whistling Dixie in the Presidio

The biggest opening this past month is chef-owner Joseph Humphrey’s Dixie (One Letterman Drive, 415-829-3363) in the Presidio. Humphrey, known for his years cooking at Meadowood and Murray Circle (Cavallo Point), is serving a Southern-influenced menu, letting his Florida roots shine through, but this is not a casual roadside affair, sweetheart.

The à la carte menu features local oysters three different ways (raw, fried, smoked); starters like chicken-fried quail with roasted garlic waffle and spicy cabbage salad ($15); and pea salad with cured salmon, Mendocino seaweeds, and bonito ($14). Entrées feature chicken and dumplings ($24); collard green tortellini with smoked onion relish and aged cheddar ($21); and black cod with bourbon, red miso, leeks, farro, and buttermilk ($22). The tasting menu ($72) promises to be even more amazing — hello, we have a Meadowood alum here! For dessert, there’s chess pie with strawberry sorbet, meringue, and Szechuan peppercorn ($7); and a coconut layer cake with slow-roasted pineapple and candied macadamia nuts ($8).

The lunch menu is a two-course affair ($19), with starters like the Dixie chopped salad with buttermilk dressing or green garlic gazpacho with grilled grapes, spiced almonds, and cucumber; mains include a daily po’boy, or roast pork with yellow grits, green beans, and peanuts. You can also get a hush puppy “refill” for $5.

Humphrey is partnering with Khalid Lahlou, who will handle the front of house. Michael Brennan has redesigned the former Pres a Vi, which includes a spacious bar and lounge area with banquettes where you can snack on deviled eggs, hush puppies, and shaved country ham while sipping some bourbon- and rye-based cocktails, like a Derby Cooler or an old-fashioned. A prized part of the property is the spacious outdoor patio, with a beautiful view of the Presidio. There are also two private rooms and a chef’s counter in the kitchen where guests who opt for the tasting menu will be able to sit for a course. Hours are lunch Monday–Friday 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and dinner Sunday–Thursday 5:30 p.m.–10 p.m. and Friday–Saturday 5:30 p.m.–11 p.m.

Also in the Presidio, now open in the former La Terrasse space is Transit Café (215 Lincoln Boulevard, Main Post). It has a casual vibe, with pastries and organic coffee in the morning, and grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, and late-afternoon snacks, with pizza from a brick oven coming soon.

And now, some sad news. After a 126-year run, Fior D’Italia (2237 Mason Street) closed last month — it was known for being America’s oldest Italian restaurant. We’ll have to see if partner Trudy Audieri and her husband Gianni (who is also the chef) decide to reopen in the future. They (unsuccessfully) tried to buy out the other owner, Bob Larive.

This tidbit isn’t all bad news: Crown & Crumpet closed its Ghirardelli Square tea-room and should be reopening in a downtown location in the early fall. If all goes well with the deal, owners Amy and Christopher Dean will also be unveiling a new private party room, tea bar, and their retail shop, Fancy Goods.

Some more changes around town: Sift, a cupcake and dessert bar, will open this summer/fall in the former Dumplings & Buns spot (2411 California Street) in Pacific Heights. This is their fourth location; the company has three locations in Napa and Sonoma counties. And Four Square (formerly Unwind) on Union is no more; the gents behind Bullitt and other bars around town are going to turn it into Lightning Tavern (1875 Union Street), with an opening planned for early July. Plan on Buffalo wings and TVs.

And last, here’s an update on A16 (2355 Chestnut Street, 415-771-2216): executive chef David Taylor has been replaced by Christopher Thompson, previously sous chef (and also behind A16’s butchery and salumi program).

Marcia Gagliardi is a contributing editor to 7×7 magazine, writes a popular weekly e-column (subscribe for free at www.tablehopper.com), and is the author of The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco. E-mail hot tips to marcia@marinatimes.com.
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