If touring Minnesota Street Project’s galleries makes you hungry, you’re in luck—for a couple of months, a new restaurant has been operating next door, in the spot left empty by Alta. While Besharam, a joint project by the Daniel Patterson’s Alta Group and La Cocina graduate chef Heena Patel, might have humble decor, the menu is what sets it apart.

Filled with childhood memories and offering up bold flavors that are difficult to find on other Indian menus in the Bay, Patel tells us how it all came together.

 

Our crew on opening day! Congrats chef Hernandez! We love you!!!!

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Why did you decide to open your own restaurant?

When I came to the U.S. in 1992 I landed in San Francisco, since we had a family here. We immediately bought a liquor store and a flower store, so I’ve been a business owner my whole adult life. In 2013, we closed the businesses and then I realized I wanted to pursue my interest in cooking a bit more. I still wanted to be my own boss, but the food business has been my passion. Last year I started thinking about having my own restaraunt, something small I can manage with my husband. When I saw the [Besharam] space, it was the perfect size, and being close to an art gallery sealed the deal.

How did the menu come together?

I want to change the menu with the seasons and challenge my staff. I love when people are learning with me and are excited. The menu has many dishes I grew up with. I want to take the guests back to India with me.

 

What are some of the dishes closest to your heart?

Undhiyu, a vegetable stew is the first thing I eat whenever I go to visit my family, and gotas [fried chickpea flour fritters] that take me back to standing in line, buying them, and sharing with my family back at home.

Where in the Bay Area do you like to eat?

I’m still exploring—whoever opens a new restaurant, I try to go try it. I love Vic’s Chaat in Berkeley, it takes me right back to Indian street food. I spend a lot of time in Marin County, that’s where I go to satisfy my burrito and taco craving at Sonoma Taco Shop in San Rafael. 

 

#grilledromaine #corn #salad with #dillyogurtdressing 😋😋😋 #besharam

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What’s your impression of working with Daniel Patterson? 

I’ve never heard of him before, but since we started working together, my respect for him has grown. He gave me my Disneyland—a place I can get really creative. So, I’m very grateful and also very excited. This is my first restaurant, but not his first [Patterson is the head of Daniel Patterson Group], so I love to have help with accounting, marketing. I love to learn from his experience and to have his French influence. 

How has it been so far, being a female chef with a new restaurant? 

For myself, I’ve been trying to have my voice heard my whole life. I’m the first chef in my family, and it hasn’t been easy. I try to get respect, to let my family, as well as people around me, see my talent, but it’s an everyday challenge. I hope to continue to grow my confidence and welcome the challenge.

Besharam Restaurant
1275 Minnesota Street

Lunch: Tuesday-Friday 11:00am-2:30pm, Dinner: Tuesday-Saturday 5:30pm-10pm, Brunch: Saturday-Sunday 11:00am-3:30pm