Spouses working together can sometimes lead to a difficult situation. But at Baker and Banker, Jeff Banker and Lori Baker have developed a winning formula for harmony in the kitchen and at home.
Banker serves as executive chef while Baker handles the sweet side as pastry chef for both the restaurant and adjoining bakery. “We always wanted to have the bakery and restaurant together,” said Banker. “We wanted this to be a neighborhood restaurant and felt the bakery fit right in.”
With a young child at home and another shortly on the way, the husband and wife team have made things work at their restaurant, which they describe as “new American with global influences.” They have staple items, both savory and sweet, like Chef Banker’s House Smoked Trout or Baker’s famed XXX Chocolate Layer Cake. But much of the rest of the menu changes with the seasons – recently, Banker has introduced new items such as Country Line Greens Salad, Maccheroni Cooked Risotto Style, Alaskan Halibut with Black Trumpets and Wolfe Ranch Quail with Mortadella. On the dessert side, Chef Baker has created a Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake, Meyer Lemon Meringue Icebox Cake, Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch Bar and Strawberry Crisp.
While there are certainly many fine dining qualities to the food being presented at Baker and Banker, there is also a comfortable, neighborhood feel that resonates from the walls of the space that formerly housed Quince. “I think we wanted to bring our food back to the neighborhood with a small, focused menu. And although this isn’t the busiest street, with tons of foot traffic, I think we’ve really become a destination dining spot in San Francisco,” said Banker.
As a husband and wife team, you would figure collaboration is something that comes naturally. “I think Jeff has more input on desserts than I have on the savory side of the menu. There are certainly difficult days where we can both take the bad side of the business home with us,” said Baker. “But we’ve taken it all in stride and are proud to have a restaurant that continues to grow and evolve.”
Although they are taking a self-described “Spring Break” from their popular Sunday brunches, to spend more time together as a family, they plan to eventually to continue with pop-up brunches on Father’s Day and other special holidays. And in the future – they are still looking at a possible full service bakery/sandwich shop on a busier street. The couple continues to prove that harmony can be made in both the kitchen and at home.
Baker and Banker is located at 1701 Octavia Street in San Francisco.