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Hurry Out of Bed for this Brunch
by Sarah Sung on Sep 03, 2004
It took about five seconds (tops) to polish off my melon aqua fresca ($2.50) -- each sip was like diving into the cool, blue ocean on a hot summer day. This concoction served as the perfect metaphor for my brunch experience: inviting, fresh, seasonal, and totally satisfying. You leave Slow Club wanting more, not because the portions are small (they're not) but because the meals are just that good.
Inside the restaurant, food takes center stage, literally, and the entrance is your first clue. The open kitchen is at once functional and decorative, with seasonal produce and freshly baked goods displayed front-and-center on the countertop like a before and after shot. The food magically softens the effect of the concrete walls and steel beams that you feel so at home, as if you could step into your slippers and take the morning paper straight to your table.
On any given Sunday, there are families sitting together and groups or pairs of friends dishing about their weekends. It's as if everyone appears from thin air because the area is seemingly abandoned yet, regardless of what day or what time you visit, people are always there. It's not a scene; it's just a mellow, low-key, neighborhood joint. If it's sunny out, tables are arranged on the sidewalk so brunch goers can bask under warm rays while eating their frittatas ($8) and bourbon French toast ($7).
Going along with the "everything is seasonal and fresh" theme, the menu changes daily and is displayed on small wooden clipboards. Chef Sante Salvoni takes the ingredients to their fullest potential with simple, yet skillful preparation. The sweet risotto ($6) with raisins, toasted walnuts, and maple syrup is super decadent and worth sharing with the table. Potatoes, caramelized onions, red peppers, poached eggs, grilled corn, and cheddar cheese are scrambled together in the turkey sausage hash ($8), which screams comfort food with a gourmet twist. However, the grilled chicken salad ($9) makes you rethink the comfort food categorization and lean towards a California cuisine classification. Fresh, gourmet ingredients like kalamata olives, feta, and baby spinach give this salad a taste all its own -- the best part about it is there's no mayonnaise.
If you miss brunch, come for dinner. The at-home feel is diminished at night, but the crowd is still predominantly Potrero Hill locals. You can't make reservations, so there is sometimes a wait, but the full bar will help you lose track of time. The burger and fries ($9) and the Caesar salad ($7) are available at every brunch, lunch or dinner. For dinner there is usually a pasta, a chicken, lamb or pork, and a few fish dishes on the menu. Seasonality dictates and although I had my doubts, the summer melon salad ($8) was outstanding with yellow and pink watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, kalamata olives, and a chili vinaigrette. Skipping to the desserts ($5), you might find the warm strawberry-walnut crisp and the peach upside-down cake with blueberry compote on the summer menu; however, don't miss the chocolate pot de crème -- a favorite in winter and summer alike.
At night, quotes are written on the glass by the front door. The night we arrived, I learned that Julia Child didn't start cooking until age 32. At first I thought: there's hope for me yet, but upon leaving Slow Club I realized that if I can dine out to places like this, why cook?
by Sarah Sung on Sep 03, 2004