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Aug 28, 2012 09:40 AM

Has anyone tried The Corner Store Restaurnat in SF?

Has anyone tried the new place on Masonic and Geary?

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    1. Five of us had dinner at The Corner Store on Sunday evening at 6:30 pm. Without a reservation, we waited 30 minutes for a table to be available. Another group of friends arrived at 7:30 pm and had an hour wait for a table for their party of four. Reservations are accepted for parties of six or more.
      Water on the table is still or sparkling. Brioche dinner rolls can be ordered for $4. On our table we had the Farmer's Market Shaved Salad, the Smoked Salmon, Pork & Beans, 2 orders of the Corner Store Burger - medium rare, and the Cornmeal Crusted Trout. I liked the Ginger Beer $4, not sweet and with a big spicy ginger kick. The fries on the Burger plate are crisp and hot and it's an ample portion - the perfectly medium rare burger was full of beefy flavor, topped with Cheddar cheese, bacon jam, pickled onions, bread and butter pickles, and aioli - just messy enough to be umami blessed on a sturdy/tasty bun but not fall-apart finger-licking messy. The prep of the trout pleased its recipient and it looked delicious as it was plated. The white beans in the Pork and Beans were toothsome and cooked just beyond al dente, avoiding the dreaded mushiness of overcooked legumes and were lauded by all tasters.
      I had anticipated 'liver and onions' but that dish was absent on the Sunday night menu. I'll have to return and I'll call ahead first.
      All in all; comfort food stepped up with quality ingredients and prepped beyond a hash slinging greasy spoon - this is serious fun; and there's food theatre if you're seated in view of the kitchen. If you recall its Hukilau days, you'll see that the space has been transformed. Service is very professional and attentive to detail. It's a happy noisy buzz all evening.
      With the new design approval of traffic on Masonic Avenue and the anticipated opening of Target on the corner of Geary/Masonic - The Corner Store is well-placed for attention.

      The Corner Store
      5 Masonic Avenue
      San Francisco CA 94118
      Tue-Fri 11 am - 2 am
      Sat 9 am - 2 am
      Sun 9 am - 12 am

      Say 'hello' to Nick in his red bandana - he's cookin' up a storm.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Cynsa

        Four of us met for dinner at Corner Store this weekend. Thanks for the hat tip, cynsa. When I read your review I knew I had to check this place out. Sure enough, we loved it.

        It was a cold, foggy night, so we waited to sit indoors. They don't take reservations, but you can call to get your name and cell on the list. So we able to call about an hour ahead and time our arrival nicely. As someone loath to plan ahead, I really prefer this approach. And I'm guessing they have fewer no-shows too.

        The salads were notable as I watched the food prep while we waited. Sizable mounds, appealingly plated, and in the case of the Figs and Apples salad we shared, really delicious. This is comfort food, so there's nothing terribly challenging about the ingredients or pairings. No tweezer food here. This is comfort food with a lot of creativity, skill and a healthy freshness. Our four mains were the cornmeal crusted trout, pork tenderloin, chicken, and I had the burger. Everyone loved their entrées. The trout was nicely done with a light crust with a light fresh lemony flavor. My wife had to defend her chicken towards the end as I tried to nab a few more bites. My burger was every bit as delectable as Cynsa's description above. Done to a perfect medium rare, with great beef flavor set off by delicious toppings and a nice bun. It will be hard not to order that again when I return.

        They have a full bar and an interesting wine and beer list. Our drinks were excellent, more than I expected from a staid order of Old Fashioned and Mojito. I finally had a chance to try an Almanac Extra Pale Ale. It had an unexpected orange bouquet that worked well with the Belgian Ale. The wines on tap looked like a good value too.

        In fact, everything on the menu was a good value - one of my main criteria these days - and that may have been the strongest suit here. Four of us were out the door for under $150, including the bar tab.

        The one problem for our group was noise. It was just a notch below deafening, where it was an effort to hear our own conversation above the din. Maybe it was especially bad for out table, right alongside the bar. But it was loud. Next time we'll go on a less wet and windy night when the terrace seating is a more inviting option.

      2. It's a fine addition to the neighborhood and great to have something worthwhile in that space again - but I wouldn't wait in line for it.

        It's comfort food, and prepared well, but not outstanding or destination worthy. There are little touches that make the menu interesting, that don't exactly translate to anything thrilling on the plate. Fries are good for those who have a preference for McDonald's reminiscent fries. A lot of the food seemed oversalted to me, and sure enough, as we left, one of the cooks was on a cigarette break. The open kitchen is fun to watch, and looks amply staffed.

        Other notable things is a fun, interesting drink menu, some shake and egg cream options (not exactly an egg cream, but no matter), etc. All were just okay. Extra points for having root beer on draft. Again, I wouldn't expect this to be a top restaurant in the city, worthy of lines, or driving from other neighborhoods for - but they'll be there a long time, and it's a good alternative to the current Richmond/Haight/Japantown/Laurel Village options.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sugartoof

          I would agree with sugartoof's assessment in full. I had brunch, not dinner, here but came away with the same impression: comfort food, prepared well (enough), not outstanding or destination worthy. And our service wasn't anything to rave about.

          I arrived just before 11am on a Saturday (my cousin and aunt got there about 10 minutes later), which seemed like perfect timing because there were plenty of tables to choose from. (Not so when we left about 12:45—by then a line had formed.) The host was nice enough to seat me before the rest of my party arrived. It was a pretty day so we sat on the enclosed patio. The waitress was plenty attentive at first, but then it got busy, and maybe it was annoying that it took a little while for everyone in our party to decide on an order, but service faltered after that. For instance my cousin had to ask three times before she finally got a second cup of coffee. (And they charge for refills, but more on that in a sec.)

          Two of us got The Basics for brunch (eggs, bacon, home fries, toast). I ordered mine without bacon, and with a biscuit instead of toast. My plate arrived with bacon on it. They did appear to fix me an entirely new plate though, which was nice—I didn't want them to just take the bacon off the plate, since I don't eat meat and it had been laid up against my eggs and biscuit. (Speaking of not eating meat, the brunch menu isn't terribly veg-friendly, though the lunch and dinner menus provide a few more options. Overall the menus lean toward meat-centric.) Anyway, $10 seemed steep for something as basic as The Basics: unremarkable scrambled eggs and home fries (nice side of ketchup though), and an extra $2(!) for the biscuit. I couldn't get that for no charge since I didn't get the bacon?

          My cousin seemed happy with her chicken and grits, and the fruit bowl I got was a lot more impressive and satisfying: That day it was diced cantaloupe, honeydew, and grapes mixed with a bit of mint, over plain yogurt, with some fruit preserves on top. Pretty to look at, and delicious.

          No soy milk on hand here, so a soy latte was out of the question (this isn't an uncommon coffee order these days folks). And the only black tea they carry is Earl Grey. (Ever heard of English breakfast?) They do Blue Bottle drip for their basic coffee, and charge $2 for refills.

          I'm happy to pay a little extra for fresh, well-made, local/whatever-is-the-buzzword food. But this wasn't special enough to warrant the prices in my opinion, and the upcharges they sprinkled around left a bad taste in my mouth.

          It's a nice enough spot in a location that needed a nice spot. But I wouldn't go out of my way to eat here again.