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Sep 11, 2011 08:06 PM

New on Upper Market: Pastry Cupboard and Fried Chicken Pop-up at Rebel

I stopped into The Pastry Cupboard on my walk to work last week--it's in the old Bistro Clovis space on Market. I was surprised by the number of pastries on offer considering they'd only been open for two days when I visited. I read later that the pastry chef had run a wholesale operation for a few years (after working at Slanted Door and Lark Creek Steak) so while the storefront is new, the business is not.

Lots of American (and French-tinged) bakery goods--cookies, pies, breakfast treats made with puff pastry. Some interesting items: chocolate hazelnut blondies, cocoa nib pistachio bars. Mr Espresso coffee. I tried a blueberry buttermilk breakfast pastry inside a puff pastry frame, and thought the texture of the pastry was great, as were the tart berries in a pool of tart buttermilk.

The inside space is bright and clean; much is taken up by the commercial kitchen set up in back, with a small space reserved for the counter and display cases up front. The desserts she made for Slanted Door were more sophisticated than this shop's goods, which lean toward classic and homey. Sounds like she's going to make plated desserts later; I'd be interested to see those.

Tonight (Sunday) we went to Sarah and Evan Rich's fried chicken pop-up at Rebel, which continues through Monday night (9/12). The $30 fixed price menu included three pieces of fried chicken per person plus several family-style dishes including pickled vegetables, black garlic mashed potatoes, three bean salad, baked beans, and cornbread, with a stone fruit crisp for dessert.

The fried chicken was the best I've had in San Francisco. Super tender, moist chicken coated in a crisp, well spiced coating. Cornbread was just the right amount of corn-y sweetness, the baked beans had a nice texture, and the black garlic mashed potatoes had a strange, murky color (like refried beans in appearance) and beautiful depth of flavor. The serving sizes were generous, yet we demolished everything on our plates.

The only disappointments were the pickled vegetables, which didn't have enough zing and spice from the pickling fluid, and the fruit crisp, which was a very small serving (maybe...half of a nectarine) in a very big cup, so it had this Alice in Wonderland-like undersized appearance that made it look comical and perhaps cheap, though the serving sizes of the other portions were so generous no one would walk away hungry.

Slanted Door
Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

Lark Creek Steak
845 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103

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  1. I stopped in to Pastry Cupboard again morning and picked up a blackberry muffin. The flavor was slightly metallic (from baking soda, maybe?), with a moist crumb and a pale, sand-colored top.

    Overall, it was on the level of a pretty good home cook; I don't think I'd spend $2 to try another muffin here--perhaps the tarts, pies, cakes and other full-on desserts are the way to go here instead of breakfast pastries?

    1 Reply
    1. re: pane

      Got four items of different dough types/techniques to try:
      * Blueberry muffin: tender, bursting with seasonal blueberries (staining my fingers)--made me exhale through my nose with pleasure. No metallic taste as the prior reviewer mentioned--so I appreciated the heads up to look for that. $1.75 seemed good considering how fresh/bursting/tender it tastes. (or am I out of whack living in SF?)
      * Almond croissant: it was solid and hit the spot if you're in the mood, but the search goes on for the best almond croissant... :)
      * Mushroom cheese puff pastry: somehow the texture of the flaky puff and mushroom/tangy cheese insides conjured memories of me sitting down for a fine dinner. so if one can taste the chef's resume, perhaps it was in this pastry more than the others? so, i liked it, yes, and i'll go back for this. hope there will be other fillings in the future?
      * Ham, egg, focaccia square. I had to eat my way past the focaccia corners to get to the canadian bacon topping; and surprise!--there were egg AND potatoes under the bacon. I initially thought the focaccia was a bit dry on its own, but once you get to the egg, it makes total sense. (Rip the corners off, start in on the egg, and eat the corners with the middle?) I'm working my way through half of it, and am pretty full--it's a solid meal. I've tried to make eggs inside of my baked items before, and I personally have a hard time pulling it off. Tell Tale (which I miss--hope you come back somewhere) had a muffin with the egg inside of it--and I do like Pastry Cupboard's more.

      It is not often I try four entirely different pastries (quickbread, croissant flaky dough, puff pastry, focaccia) and am impressed with the execution on all four. I'll definitely go back and try the lemon pound cake and maybe some of the cakes/pies given how good the breakfast pastries are. And I loved that there was a lot of parking in the early morning on Franklin. At 7 am, the owner (Chona) was there, keeping an eye on things--so that was sort of cool. I read somewhere that people were sort of debating the graphics of her sign. Most of the talk was, if the pastries are good, no one will care about the sign. I have definitely forgotten about any graphics and am glad this Bistro Clovis space has been put to exceptional use.

    2. I went to the brunch pop-up and was disappointed. The sopapillas with bacon honey were wonderful, perfectly fried and not oily. But the shrimp and grits featured small fried shrimp served with an under seasoned and very dry corn and grits mixture that was just not that good. The bite of chicken sandwich i had was better, but also not great. Service was great and eager to please.

      1. $30 for fried chicken, really?

        1 Reply
        1. re: mattinsr

          It was a ton of food. Seemed like a good value to me.

        2. I'm confused. I thought Upper Market was the non-descript, completely non-commercial strip between Portola and Clayton or thereabouts?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Spenbald

            I've heard it used for the area from about Van Ness until about Church Street. This SF planning commission map defines Upper Market as Market Street between Castro and Octavia: