Another new standout in the growing cadre of chic yet cozy neighborhood restaurants focusing on small plates and unusual ingredients is Stones Throw on Russian Hill. Chef Jason Halverson, the former chef de cuisine at Michael Mina, offers a plethora of “snacks,” starters, mains, and desserts designed to delight the eye and palate alike.
Stones Throw feels at once intimate yet airy: floor-to-ceiling windows, an open-beamed ceiling, spacious bar, and a long communal table. An open kitchen links two dining rooms that seat 60.
Snacks ($8) top the dinner menu, and two of note are the crispy tomato cream wafers with a bright green fava bean “dip,” and a slender slab of duck pâté and mousse served with cornichons and mini soft pretzels.
Next come starters ($12–$16), most of which are infused with deep colors and flavors, such as the black squid-ink pasta with capers, clams, calamari, and greens; five peas in a pod with ricotta, preserved Meyer lemon and almond-mint pesto; and sweet corn soup with chorizo croquettes, piquillo peppers, and scallions.
Main courses ($16–$29) offer larger portions with the same inventive take on ingredients and combinations. Pan-roasted king salmon is served with corn and uni risotto, chives, lemon oil, and tomato water; and “Toad in the Hole” lasagna with egg yolk, asparagus, mushrooms, and green garlic. There’s also a burger (“Da Burga” aka Da Disaster) served with “everything” baked potato tots.
Desserts ($8) sound traditional, like apple pie, but are anything but. Chocolate bananas foster with warm brown sugar and caramel-soaked bananas is combined with a chocolate banana milkshake and a warm brownie on the side. Rather than flambéing the dessert tableside, the warm caramel melts the chocolate, revealing the banana shake.
Selected by one of the restaurant’s founders, Jason Kirmse, Stone Throw’s wine list is extensive and categorized into sections: “left coast” California wine country; “classically trained” from France; “bizarrely unique” from Spain, Italy, and Greece; and the “bargain bin,” expensive wines at what the restaurant deems “absurdly great” prices, like a Burgundian Pinot Noir for $92. The extensive beer selection is divided into clever sections like “An Apple a Day” for hard ciders, “Bitter Beer Face” for IPAs, and “Ask-ing for Trouble” for stouts.
Brunch ($8–$17) offers up not-to-miss treats like vanilla-sugar doughnuts, butter-fried pancakes, and asparagus and duck confit hash.
A word to would-be diners: Parking on Russian Hill is always tough, so a visit to Stones Throw might merit the use of Muni, Uber, Lyft, or taxi.
Stones Throw: 1896 Hyde Street (at Green), 415-796-2901, www.stonesthrowsf.com; dinner Tuesday–Sunday from 5:30 p.m.; brunch Sunday 11 a.m.–2 p.m.