Nopa Brunch Report [San Francisco]
Wow. Today Nopa debuted their brunch service, and they hit it out of the park.
We got there a half hour after they opened, and the place was already almost full (although the bar area was pretty much empty). There's no question they'll be doing a great business every weekend here on out.*
The menu is a great mix of sweet and savory, classic and innovative. And yes, the burger's on there! There's also a breakfast cocktail menu, of course.
We started with a smoked trout/farmer's cheese/pickled onion/bagel plate and the tomato salad. Both were outstanding. The smoke trout was mild, and the flesh was moist. The tomato salad (if I had to guess I'd say they were Early Girls) finally provided me with the first truly delicious tomato I've had all year. And the feta they use is so creamy and perfect.
For mains, I got butter basted eggs with white corn polenta cakes and a zucchini/corn succotash. I've never had butter basted eggs before, but our server explained the technique and i was sold. It creates eggs that are very uniformly cooked, and the white is velvety but not gooey. Really special, and a treat for anyone who likes a runny yolk without any chance of snotty egg white (sorry, but that's the only way I can describe it).
My husband ordered the merguez sausage with lentils and 2 poached eggs. The lentils were cooked perfectly, the sausage was juicier than any merguez I've ever had.
The portions are huge, so go hungry. You'll leave happy. Add this to the top of your brunch list.
*I remember reading somewhere that they are closed next weekend (9/11&12) for a private event.
560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117
Last Sunday a friend joined me for brunch at NOPA. My first time for the weekend meal . . . I’ve always stayed away due to reports of long waits. Our last minute decision to meet here with a 2:15pm arrival avoided most of the pain. My friend snagged two seats at the communal table easily and I got a parking space across the street. Sweet.
For a quick attitude adjustment, I had the Negroni Frizzante. I enjoyed it, but felt my dining companion had the more interesting bubbly beverage. His was Glögg+Cava, served room temperature rather than chilled, releasing many savory and herbal nuances.
A cream biscuit served with strawberry preserves though plenty buttery was too cake-like and un-flaky for my druthers.
Next up, the tasso ham, which turned out to be my favorite of the meal. Housemade tasso ham seemed to be made with one of the shoulder muscles. Ribbons of marinated carrots helped cut through the fatty richness of the tasso. And we’re trying to figure out what went into the raita to make it so exceptionally tasty. Grilled bread saturated with butter completed the plate.
Then boudin blanc with lentils, artichokes, and eggs. The boudin was more pink than blanc and not particularly boudin-like. It was still a well-grilled, nice juicy sausage. The crispy and perfectly fried artichokes were the best part.
Soft scrambled eggs were not so soft and tasted more of butter than the richness of really great eggs. The sautéed maitake were dripping with butter mingled with spinach sautéed in butter and farro infused with butter.
For dessert, a half-order of custard French toast that our server had recommended as better than any of the sweets. Sitting in a pool of melted butter with a quenelle of butter atop, the French toast was adorned with some lovely confit of blood orange and other citrus, a savory whiff of rosemary, and maple syrup on the side.
While I believe that I may be more of a butter aficionado than most, the amount of butter in this meal was too much even for the likes of me. The amount of flavor that NOPA packs into every bite is really remarkable and the butter dosage takes it that much more over the top. Next time I have brunch here, I’ll take care to limit the dishes that include butter and dairy to avoid overload. It’s worth mentioning that while the kitchen closes at 3pm, the bar stays open through the afternoon. We saw several parties of two arrive around that time to enjoy an afternoon cocktail sans food.