The restaurant is relaxed, with tight tables and a big black ceiling. For the voyeurs, the small kitchen is totally exposed in the main dining room, which, in my humble opinion, takes some serious gonads. They are letting it all hang out. The vibe is relaxed and cool, with hip hairstyles being shown off by the service and kitchen staff. And actually, they are super cool there — giving you liberal tastings of different wines before you select, serving you a complimentary glass of port or sauternes with your dessert, or for the single tourist guy sitting next to me, giving him a tasting of nearly the entire menu since he seemed game for it!
I had the 4 course tasting menu, and despite the casual feel of the place, started off with an oyster shooter in cucumber water amuse bouche. That, coupled with the housemade brioche roll, which, as my dinner partner aptly noted was “cross between a yeast roll and a biscuit,” suggested to me that I’d be getting a lot of bang for my buck this evening. In fact, the food is very aggressive and you better not be a food wimp if you’re eating here. The flavors are pronounced, the flavor combinations interesting (some dazzling — like the cold, clean, slightly acidic crab against decadent sweetbreads — some slight misses — like the hazelnut puree served with the squab that left me daydreaming about nutella), and the techniques interesting (such as the blueberries with vanilla powder palate cleanser).
|Cream of parsley root soup with mushrooms and ice plant|
But overall, Sons & Daughters stands out as a place where they are rethinking how to prepare and serve food, all the while not letting their creativity be intimidated by the looming “farm to table” philosophy so prevalent here in San Francisco (i.e., the buy-local-sustainable-organic-and-don’t-muck-with-the-ingredients-mantra that somehow got perverted into arguably inhibiting experimentation in the kitchen). But whatever the politics of Bay Area food are, the long and short of it is that Sons & Daughters is going to serve you good food. And they’re going to do it with some cojones.
|Sweetbreads, crab, turnip and bronze fennel