Whether you call it a wine bar, a lounge, or a gastropub, restaurants with a bar-centric, small-plate focus are opening everywhere. Restaurateurs are offering patrons unique, often intimate spaces in which to drink and nosh in an informal manner. Specialty craft cocktails and wines and beers from local, often low-production wineries and breweries reign, and menus lean toward seasonal, local produce, meat, and fish.
A NEW AMERICAN GASTROPUB
Scotland Yard on Scott Street offers a new twist on this trend. Its logo is a silhouette of a pipe-smoking Sherlock Holmes, and the restaurant is named after London’s police headquarters. Inside there’s an eclectic mix of Victorian-inspired wallpaper, sparking old and modern chandeliers, private nooks with armchairs, gleaming hardwood floors, and one small row of tables with stools on one side and an upholstered bench on the other. The bar is the focal point. Billing itself as a “new American gastropub,” Scotland Yard can seat 50 inside and 80 in the outdoor covered patio. The restaurant has a quaint ambience where Holmes and his sidekick, Watson, might well have felt at home.
Co-owned by Brian Cassanego, owner of Hayes Valley’s Noir Lounge, Scotland Yard’s kitchen is manned by Jason Raffin, formerly executive chef at Bin 38, which the space formerly housed. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Napa, Raffin has worked for Morimoto (Napa) and Scala’s Bistro. His menu at Scotland Yard seeks to combine a sense of fun and imagination with a focus on flavor and texture. Dishes like fried pork belly wontons are combined with Thousand Island dressing and house-made Serrano Sriracha ($8).
SHARED/LARGER PLATES AND SIDES
In keeping with the British theme, other shared plates include baby Yorkshire puddings with cheese foam and leek powder ($8), and bone marrow served on toast points with parsley, Dijon, and fennel ($6). Dishes with a more international, California-inspired theme include sirloin tartare with remoulade, mustard, quail egg, and Worcestershire sauce ($15); crispy tuna ceviche tacos ($6); and pan-seared seafood dumplings with golden pea sprouts and kaeshi sauce ($8). A kale Caesar salad with poached egg, pickled turnips, cherry tomatoes, and fried shallots; and a simple mixed vegetable salad are available in small ($7) or entrée sizes ($12).
Larger plates include an indulgent bacon-brined pork chop with a Dijon-honey glaze ($14), Coca-Cola spareribs with toasted almonds and cilantro ($7/26); and clam chowder puff pie with charred corn and poached potatoes ($13). The Yard Burger ($13) with bone marrow aioli is served with aged cheddar and a cornichon-remoulade sauce, and the richness of the marrow heightens the burger’s overall juicy opulence. A Double Smash Burger with three-quarters of a pound of meat is an extra $4.
Sides are diverse and include pickled vegetables with herbed goat cheese ($6), market vegetables with golden raisins and toasted pistachios ($5), “dirty” creamed spinach with garlic chicken livers ($6); fries with herb aioli and house ketchup ($5); and fried lemon Brussels sprouts with bacon ($6). Large and small meat and cheese plates ($16/$31) are also available and feature a tasty variety of charcuterie such as Italian prosciutto and chicken-liver toast and cheese ranging from Beemster 18-month Gouda and Brillat Savarin to local specialties like Humboldt Fog.
Sweet and rich brunch offerings are a carrot cake French toast with brown-butter frosting, strawberries and whipped cream ($13), and chicken and waffle bites made with Belgian waffles feature Captain Crunch-encrusted chicken thighs with black pepper maple caramel ($11).
For eggs, there’s the egg muffin sandwich with an over-easy egg, bacon, American cheese, Worcestershire, and Serrano Sriracha ($14). The bangers Benedict has house-made pork belly sausage, poached egg, Worcestershire-marinated tomato, and hollandaise on a Panorama English muffin; and whipped eggs are served with sautéed mushrooms and oven-roasted baked beans ($12). A corned beef sandwich features buttermilk-fried chicken livers with pepper relish, cornichon remoulade, and pepper jack cheese ($15).
On the lighter side, there’s toast with avocado and roasted tomato ($7) or with Di Stefano burrata, seasonal jam, and honey ($11); “fraîche fruit,” mixed fruit with nitro-infused crème fraîche and Pop Rocks ($6.50); or vegetable quiche with mixed vegetables and cheese ($13).
Many of Scotland Yard’s dinner dishes are available at brunch, including the clam chowder puff pie, ribs, burger, and salads. Mains are served with a choice of hash browns, fries or salad; bacon, house-made sausage, salad, and toast with jam are available as sides.
Scotland Yard is not for those counting calories or vegans, but it’s a fun spot to indulge your Anglophile fantasies or just enjoy sharing some hearty fare.
Scotland Yard: 3232 Scott Street (btw. Lombard & Chestnut), 415-872-6853, scotlandyardsf.com; Monday–Wednesday 4 p.m.–midnight, Thursday 4 p.m.–1 a.m., Friday–Saturday 4 p.m.–1:30 a.m., Sunday 4–10 p.m.