Review: Maverick (17th and Mission) [San Francisco]
Boston CH’er visiting your fair city and met SF ‘hound mariacarmen for dinner at Maverick. It was marvelous and mariacarmen thought it was far better than her last visit, under the previous chef.
We started with gruyere gougeres with French onion dip, both delicious, then shared beef tenderloin tartare with gypsy pepper “pearls” (which looked for all the world like salmon roe but did taste distinctly like the red peppers they were), charred tiny eggplant rounds, bits of Meyer lemon, miso, and the most gorgeous vibrant pink blackberry-lime-beet vinaigrette (blackberry flavor predominant). While each element was delicious in its own right, they didn’t really pull together in a harmonious whole the way the other dishes did. Still, a minor quibble as it was all excellent.
Next up: raw local albacore, each slice balanced on a marble-sized potato which had been tossed with sherry vinaigrette, then strewn around the dish shaved lemon cucumbers and radishes and some springs or greenery, garlic chips (which had none of the bitterness they sometimes do), and big blops of delicious tonnato sauce and drizzles of black garlic puree, all topped with a few tempura green beans. This was absolutely magnificent and the flavors and textures really complemented one another. Yes, we really did use our fingers in addition to bits of bread to get every morsel of goodness off the plate and there really was a discussion about getting another one for dessert.
For mains, mc had the burrata and veal sweetbread saltimbocca, with crispy sunchoke (we both wished for a whole plate of these, they were marvelous), shreds of delicious peppers, pickled carrots and braised shallots. Everything I tasted was great but she can tell you more. I had what I will call the pork combo: pork short rib, meltingly tender and perfect with a pronounced flavor of cloves which we both liked; a little round of cotechino which had been dusted with cornmeal and deep-fried into an even greater yumminess (if that is possible) than cotechino normally achieves; a square of pork belly with a very crispy layer of skin; all on a bed of corn spaetzle with generous amounts of huitlacoche, and scattered clumps of tiny charred pardon peppers, watermelon bits and whole charred scallions. The elements worked together magnificently.
Each plate was a work of art and caused us to ooh and aah. Mariacarmen took pictures of everything which she will post later. The service was delightful, our waiter got a big kick out of our enthusiasm. I know that you SF ‘hounds are spoiled for choice when it comes to dining, mariacarmen is a perfect 3 for 3 in the places she has chosen for us to dine at when I get out here, but I would happily go back to Maverick.
GS, this is a fabulous report, and right on the money.
You're so right about we being a lucky bunch - it's hard to swing a cat without hitting a great restaurant, especially in this neighborhood.
i have not much to add to what you've said - except that my app, which served as my main - the sweetbreads - was a great dish except for the fact that the prosciutto pretty much obliterated the delicacy of the sweetbreads, and was a bit salty. It did have a very nice sage flavor to it, though. and GS is right, those sunchokes were to die for. if not for their inherent GI-problem-causing properties, we indeed could have eaten a plateful. the smokey eggplant smear on the plate was great too.
GS's pork dish was fantastic. the clove flavor was subtle yet infused every bite - lovely. the cotechino was truly even better than imaginable for its treatment. my only issue with that dish (or an issue with the ingredient) is that the huitlacoche had no discernible flavor. since i have limited experience with huitlacoche, i'm not sure if that's the norm, but i had always believed it had a much earthier flavor - something akin to mushrooms/truffles/mold - in a good way. these were more a bit of texture than anything else.
the albacore dish with the tonnato was wonderful - the tonnato especially - so light and silky, with a delicate tuna flavor, and went so well with the earthy potatoes and crispy garlic. GS is right, the chef really knows how to make disparate elements work together.
i love that they offer daily changing wine flights. i had an albarino, a sauvignon blanc, and an outstanding pinot grigio - i wish i'd written the name down.
yes, this dinner wowed on a lot of fronts. Maverick seems to be getting better and better.
And a big thanks to GS for thinking of my BF - who rarely sees the light of day but often benefits from leftovers from my eating adventures. she most generously prodded me into ordering him the chicharrones off the Bites portion of the menu - they were super light and cripsy (rivaling 4505's, maybe, even...), dusted with sumac and sesame. we didn't love (of course i tasted!) the crimini ketchup that came with them, but they didn't need it.
Thanks again for a wonderful night, GS - and many more!
here are a few pics. i'm sorry, it seems that as the evening wore on and it got darker outside, the pics grew ever darker and yet lurid, so i'll spare you the rest.
ETA: hmmm... for some reason, i can't see the pics. they weren't that dark! Mods? they appear to be "x-d out", and clicking on them doesn't open them....
Great reviews--thanks! Maverick's going back on our to-go list (not that it was ever off, just not as high as your experiences says it should be).
(Smiled that your friend's from Boston. I always associate Maverick w/ the Red Sox [now five out from clinching] because Scott Youkilis, the owner, is the brother of Kevin [you at least used to be able to get bottles of Kevin's hot sauce there & at Scott's other restaurants]. But Kevin is, of course--still painful to say--with the Yankees this season.)