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Jan 14, 2011 08:30 AM

Beast and the Hare on Guerrero [San Francisco]

Nice little neighborhood joint, opened in November or December. Getting outsized attention from all the local media outlets -- so much so that when I was talking to a friend about trying it, I assumed we wouldn't be able to get a table. But on a Thursday night around 7 there were plenty of tables -- it filled up a little later.

The menu is rather all over the place, as if the chef had thought more about what people like to eat, in general, than about a cohesive identity for the food. I guess this is what they call New American -- in the sense that American can be so many things. Pasta carbonara and fried chicken with grits and red gravy just seem so random together on a menu.

We shared a salad with arugula, duck breast, almonds, and castelvetrano olives; smoked trout brandade, and aforementioned fried chicken. Dessert was a meyer lemon semifreddo.

The salad had a pretty assertive garlicky dressing, and the olives were pitted and smashed -- for some reason that was a nice touch, because castelvetranos are so big. The duck was smoked, I think, and sliced thinly. The brandade was a healthy portion, smooth, mellow in flavor, and potatoey.

I can't say I'm a fried chicken connoisseur (hell, I'm not even sure what red gravy is), but this was good. Salty, which is how I like it, not too crispy thanks to the gravy, but still with a good, pretty thick crust. Especially the grits -- white corn, not the course kind. With good, flavorful collard greens.

Finally, the semifreddo was topped with blood orange supremes and had what seemed like a hazelnut crust on the bottom -- the waitress couldn't exactly confirm what they did to it but it was certainly hazelnuts.

There's a charcuterie section on the menu, naturally. The menu overall was pretty small -- two salads, about four "smalls" and three "bigs." Also "snacks" -- oysters, olives, and house pickles. I didn't pay too much attention to the wine list, I had a $10 glass of Burgundy.

Beast and the Hare
1001 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110

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  1. "Red gravy" usually means tomato sauce.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      My friend says they called it country gravy on the menu -- my mistake. It definitely was reddish, but it wasn't tomato sauce.

      1. re: davina

        Did you like it? I can't tell from your writeup.

        1. re: Windy

          Ha that's a good question. I feel very neutral about it, I don't know if I'd go back -- there wasn't a lot on the menu that differentiates it from other places.

          1. re: davina

            Yes, it felt like you were trying to be fair but weren't completely won over. Thanks.

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. We ate here this weekend. Seems like they have settled in now.

        We had House Pickles (fennel was the best), Bone Marrow (very nice on toast), then Bavette Steak for my wife and Braised Rabbit and Bacon Stew for me. Steak was quite good, but the standout was the rabbit. The porcinis in the sauce made it very silky, almost like there was truffle oil in the dish. The Domaine de la Garreleire Touraine pared very well with all. Lower alcohol (12.5%) and peppery.

        I'd happliy eat here again. However the menu is not large, and there is such a plethora of places to try that I can't say I'm going to be a regular there.

        1. I've long been a fan of brunch at Beast and the Hare, particularly the duck hash. However, today things were seriously off: the usually moist hash was dried out, and the sunny-side up eggs on top were cooked to hardness. My usual favorite brunch dish was, for the first time, forgettable.

          I hope this is a one-time slip and not the start of a downhill slide.