Occupation: Children's Librarian
Favorite Restaurant: Maverick
Reviewed Maverick: Saturday, February 9, 2013
Maverick never disappoints neither their most seasoned followers nor first timers. Last night was no exception. I look forward to the Acme bread on every visit, along with the ramekin of softened perfectly salted butter. A cheese puff with onion dip may sound pedestrian. But each menu item is elevated beyond your expectations. As I bit into the hot gougeres, the light, buttery pastry melted in my mouth. Onion dip tends to bring to mind images of Lipton’s packets, and nothing could be further from the case. It was smooth and complemented the gougere.
My first course was the beet soup and salad. The soup was very light, more of a liquid than a puree. The salad included small beets, as well as a beet meringue. Prior to sampling this I would have said that I could take or leave meringues. Despite having the foamy consistency of a meringue, there was a trail of beet juice when I sliced it with my fork. This was one of the numerous times that I’m sorry the menu changes so frequently!
Fried chicken (the only permanent menu item) did not disappoint. A Mary’s free range thigh and boneless breast is marinated in buttermilk for 24 hours. The skin was a seasoned crust fried to perfection. No grease here! The brining led to a juicy bird that was so tasty the Andouille sausage gravy was left behind. Like the gougeres, the biscuit was equally light, flaky and delicious. So delectable that I didn’t get to as much of the pickled green beans or Brussels sprouts as I would have liked as the portions are sizeable.
Admittedly, the acoustics of the space are challenging. It’s a small area, and about a year after they opened, I remember the soundproofing panels being installed, which did help, and further sound buffering added this year. Particularly at busy times like a weekend it can be problematic. “People will go to restaurants for food. They will return for hospitality.” It is this factor that should encourage you to overlook the sound and try Maverick. Sommelier/Owner Mike Pierce is on hand the majority of hours they are open to suggest a wine based on your past preferences and ensure a memorable dining encounter. Having someone vested in the success of the venture makes all the difference between a typical dining experience and the flawless meals I appreciate at Maverick.
Occupation: Database Developer
Favorite Restaurant: Souk Savanh Restaurant
Reviewed Maverick: Friday, February 15, 2013
I took BART across the Bay and met my partner after work for a post-Valentine’s date at Maverick, conveniently located just a block from the Mission & 16th BART station. The place was full but we were seated immediately (with a reservation, of course) and began a wonderful meal.
I must confess that we are both cheap eaters who are more critical when menu prices are high, and when we saw the menu we were concerned that the pressure to enjoy our meal might overwhelm whatever pleasures it could offer.
That concern only grew when our starter plates arrived -- Dungeness Crab Salad and Cured Spanish Anchovies, both artfully presented but in the small portions that make us think, yikes, I’m paying $15 for two little scoops of crab with a potato chip on top?
However, the ingredients were excellent: fresh, sweet crab and sublimely pickled anchovy, which for me is like manna from heaven. Perhaps the flavors of the crab salad were a little too subtle for our tastes, but the anchovy had an exquisite balance of brine, citrus zest (bravo, kumquat, you beloved fruit), chili warmth, and a crunch of thin toast underneath. Now, if we’d just had four little fish instead of three it would have been easier to share…
But then came the entrees, both in generous portions: Southern Fried Chicken and Berkshire Boneless Pork Chop, absolutely verboten if you’re in a weight-watchers frame of mind, and all the better for it. We have searched high and low for the Holy Grail of Chicken ever since having the world’s best in rural Illinois many years ago at a family funeral -- not to be repeated -- and this is the closest we have ever come: crisp, light, salty-peppery breading on large pieces of tender chicken that were perfectly cooked through. We used the biscuit to mop up the “gumbo” gravy with Andouille sausage, and cut all the grease with a slightly pickled green-bean-and-escarole salad that for me had too many chili flakes in it (perhaps the chef would consider a fresh Serrano or even a bit of ground-up smoked Chiltepins).
Equally as divine, the fatty-in-a-good-way pork chop had that juicy, fun-to-chew texture of fine pork. But like a true South American, my partner went straight for the butterball potatoes and pronounced them the triumph of the meal, which is high praise indeed. He also loved the sautéed Swiss chard tips and the sweet apple-beet-quince sauce that unified the whole dish as Comfort Food Extraordinaire.
I liked my dessert -- the playful Peanut Butter and Jelly – less than he liked his, though both were very good. Mine consisted of a rectangle of warm peanut butter cake topped with blackberry sorbet. These two, when eaten together, really did taste like a PB&J sandwich. But once that novelty of that wore off, I found myself eating them separately in order to appreciate the flavors of the sorbet which otherwise were overwhelmed.
The Buttermilk Panna Cotta resembled Greek yoghurt in flavor and texture but more delicate, topped with a parfait of frozen huckleberry lemonade foam. Each bite, eaten with slightly fibrous fresh huckleberries served on the side, made for a fascinating contrast of textures.
The experience of the restaurant itself was delightful: may blessings be heaped upon whoever installed the sound baffling in the ceiling: the place was noisy in a vibrant, eavesdropper’s paradise sort of way, and we were able to converse easily. Many people helped to serve our table, working as an attentive team with a consistently friendly, relaxed vibe despite the packed house. At worst they sometimes rattled off the ingredients of a dish too quickly, but they were happy to take the time to answer all my questions. Generally the dishes came out of the kitchen a little slowly, but they were executed so well it was worth the wait: our meal took a leisurely 90 minutes to complete.
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Izakaya Yuzuki
Reviewed Maverick: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Maverick is a stylish, inviting restaurant tucked off of Mission Street in an especially vibrant part of the Mission. The ambiance is sophisticated yet casual, the servers hip yet enthusiastically attentive, and the food matches the vibe: delectable and inventive yet down-to-earth. The wine pairing suggestions are spot-on and not to be overlooked. When first looking at the menu, one feels a bit flummoxed as to what to choose, but once you commit, you are not disappointed. The menu makes use of local, fresh, seasonal ingredients and the combinations are creative and artfully presented. The seafood creations are especially excellent. The vegetables with each appetizer and entree are hardly an accompaniment but rather a distinct treat unto themselves. The fried chicken is undoubtedly the piece de resistance and while it doesn’t necessarily “pair” with the other entrees, someone ought to have it and share! Save room for milk and cookies to get you ready for bedtime on a happy and satisfied stomach.