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Bruno's on Mission St.

Breego Jan 4, 2010 07:04 AM

I'm glad that Ryan and Katharine from The Broken Record resurfaced at Bruno's because I was jonesing for their southern-style, yet somehow not heavy fare. I had not been to Bruno's since it was a happening club in the early 90s. It is good to be back for Ryan and Kat's menu.

I had the chicken and waffles. How does one make waffles so ethereal, so light? The chicken was perfectly crispy, and the whole dish together was gratifying yet not too heavy, a little savory, a little sweet.

My companions had the frito pie and bbq ribs, which both got high marks although I didn't taste them.

Another favorite that I always ordered at the Broken Record is the hush puppies. (They basically moved the same menu here.) Again - surprisingly light for what is essentially a ball of fried corn dough and butter.

They are serving dinner Tues-Sat, which is good because those poor kids were cooking 7 nights a week over at Broken Record. I hesitate to write this review because the place is still on the down-low so I can get in for dinner without a wait. But they deserve to do well. Theirs is a completely fresh, careful and thoughtful take on old southern standards.

Bruno's Restaurant
2389 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

  1. o
    ola Jan 28, 2010 08:17 PM

    Growing up in San Francisco in the 50's, this was my Dad's go-to place. I felt so elegant sitting in the banquettes with a Shirley Temple.

    1. t
      Thomas Nash Jan 28, 2010 08:09 PM

      A very nice dinner at Bruno's tonight. This place is a keeper.

      We had the Pork Rib Plate and the Crawfish Etoufee Pot Pie.

      Ribs reminded me of what Rick Bayless used to do at Topolobampo in Chicago some years back. Bayless's Topolo and Frontera Grill are (at least IMHO) the best Mexican restaurants north of the DF, but the ribs came from a different tradition -- his parent's BBQ place in Oklahoma CIty. Bruno's ribs were apple wood smoked, with a dark crust and quite excellent. They were served, like Bayless, with a light coleslaw, here with cumin. Normally I don't like cumin, but these were great. They also came with a wonderfully airy biscuit and we had a second side of cheesy grits. The waitress misunderstood our request for greens, but the grits were excellent (and pleased my Carolina wife).

      The etoufee pot pie had a light puff pastry top which you could break into the etoufee and which was excellent.The presentation in a round bowl with the crust brought back another ancient memory -- please don't laugh -- the truffle soup at Paul Bocuse. Well, there was no huge odor of truffles breaking this crust and the etoufee was more like what the Cajuns call a court bouillion a very spicy tomatoey sauce often served with catfish. It was the weakest point of the meal.

      A fine chocolate cupcake with a cream cheese top was one dessert. The other was a basket of Churros which were superb -- light, airy, crunch, cinnamon flavored. Wow!.

      A place with those churros and that brings back the kind of Proustian memories this meal did is certainly a real winner and needs our love. It was full enough that they ran out of the ribs by 730 (resulting in one couple leaving), and dishes took a while to come out.

      On the way home we looked in at the new Rosamunde. It had a large crowd at 8 PM.

      Looks like we are having a real Mission St. revival.

      1. f
        fulton Jan 7, 2010 11:10 AM

        Wasn't Bruno's a great American Italian joint back in the 70s??

        2 Replies
        1. re: fulton
          BernalKC Jan 7, 2010 11:32 AM

          Bruno's goes way, way back. When I moved here in '81 it was still its old school self and it was a total anachronism back then. The dim lighting and booths are sort of preserved, but it was really more intensely red velvet and leather back then, with a matre'd who must have been as old as the restaurant, and definitely as Italian. I vaguely recall some old photos that described some of the history of the place. If my memory servse me, Prohibition was just a blip in the mid-life of the original joint.

          And now I'm surprized that I'm unable to locate anything about Bruno's history on this myopic web of ours...

          1. re: BernalKC
            fulton Jan 7, 2010 01:07 PM

            I grew up in SF during the 60s-70s and vaguely remember it as a "Joes" type of restaurant. Now that you mention the red velvet and black leather, I'm sure of it.

        2. Melanie Wong Jan 6, 2010 11:10 PM

          Good to see a post from you. I went to Bruno's back in the day and not in the pop-up incarnations. Has the decor stayed clubby?

          4 Replies
          1. re: Melanie Wong
            Absonot Jan 7, 2010 10:13 AM

            Sort of. It's changed so many times since the late 90's that I don't notice what's specifically changed from the most recent incarnation....right now as you walk in, you see a big bar to the left with muted TVs. A communal bar-height table runs down the length of the room parallel to the bar, dividing the room. To the right are tables along a banquette wall, with a fireplace jutting out of the center of the wall.

            The tables are spaced really nicely, so even if this place is packed you wouldn't feel crowded. Utensils are wrapped in napkins and stuck upright in containers at each table, along with sauces and s&p, so it's a casual in that way.

            The lighting is definitely dim and loungy, which actually makes the large space feel kinda cozy even as it was somewhat sparsely populated on a Wed night.

            1. re: Absonot
              Melanie Wong Jan 7, 2010 11:14 AM

              Thanks for the lowdown. Personally, I like banquettes and am glad they're still there, but not everyone does.

              1. re: Absonot
                bbulkow Jan 7, 2010 11:39 AM

                Do they still have that funny long room on the left (from street) where they used to just do drinks and DJ, or is it more all-restaurant now?

                1. re: bbulkow
                  Absonot Jan 7, 2010 07:53 PM

                  Yeah, it looks like the room is still there, but I didn't investigate to see whether it had tables or not.

            2. s
              SFDude Jan 4, 2010 05:41 PM

              Thanks for your report; I had heard they were opening up there but there was no evidence of it on the website or the restaurant itself as of several weeks ago. I will give them a try.

              3 Replies
              1. re: SFDude
                Absonot Jan 6, 2010 08:32 PM

                My husband and I returned here for the second time tonight - our first visit was right after they opened a couple months ago and it was very positive. During both visits, we found the service to be very friendly and the food great. The ambience is really comfortable, too.

                We started with a beet salad and the frito pie, then moved on to a shrimp po boy and the vegetable pot pie. Everything was extremely tasty, especially the cold and spicy/tangy kale salad that came with an indian-inspired pot pie (the sauce was a curry with house made paneer). A vegetarian would be very happy here.

                About 8 more diners came in while we were eating, and I recall that during our first visit there were only about 4 other diners the entire time we were there. Maybe it was a bit early, but I was shocked that a place with great beers on tap, a full bar and such excellent and affordable food would not be packed from 7pm on.

                I don't know if it's a destination restaurant (unless you crave frito pie), but we live in Bernal and it's firmly on our list of go-to weeknight spots.

                Bruno's Restaurant
                2389 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                1. re: Absonot
                  drewskiSF Jan 6, 2010 09:41 PM

                  well it is Wed night

                  1. re: drewskiSF
                    bbulkow Jan 6, 2010 10:24 PM

                    Yeah. I ate at Trend (MV chinese) tonight, only two other tables were working in the whole place. And that's *tasty* chinese.

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