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An inventive evening at One Market

One Market has long been one of the most reliable expense account restaurants in town, outfitted with a touch of mid-90s hotel lobby décor and a fairly predictable menu: rich California cuisine for those with rich pockets. While the menu remains pricey, chef Mark Dommen (new as of 2005) makes the price seem more worthwhile with his expert handling of One Market's giant larder.

In the midst of its business friendly downtown atmosphere, One Market has warm touches like the thank-you notes from teenagers framed on the wall outside the restrooms. Walking in, the large floor plan feels welcoming with an emphasis on the open kitchen, where we later went to compliment the chef on the amazing sheep’s milk ricotta gnocchi ($13.75) that contrasted smooth, creamy gnocchi with intense, perfectly cooked sweetbreads. We started with a glass of Gloria Ferrer Brut ($7.25) and a selection of oysters on the half shell that ranged from rich and briny to silky. The roasted quince salad ($13.00) was possibly the best salad we’ve ever had. Thanks to this salad, we developed the food equivalent of a crush on this slightly tart, almost meaty fruit that was accompanied by frisee, Point Reyes blue cheese and candied walnuts.

One main course, pancetta-wrapped day boat scallops ($26.50), was paired with green lentil ragout and a foie gras emulsion that was rich without being overpowering. The scallops were baked with tender centers. The roasted Liberty Farms duck breast ($26.50) was heavier with a dense huckleberry sauce and a turnip puree. Throughout the meal, the service was friendly and professional but not intrusive. Also, the courses arrived in smooth succession, creating a well-paced evening.

The only slightly off note was the coffee, which was not actively bad, simply unremarkable and not quite hot enough. For dessert the pumpkin brioche bread pudding with pumpkin crème anglaise and a mildly sweet, light maple crème fraiche cloud ($9.00) reinvented comfort food. It was topped with melt-in-your mouth pumpkinseed brittle that provided a stunning finish.

Although on first look One Market appeals only to the businessman or mother-in-law on vacation, we've found that it's also a brilliant place to stop for a glass of wine and a stellar salad, or to splurge on a surprisingly delicious fine dining moment.

One Market Restaurant
1 Market Street (at Spear)
San Francisco, CA
California Cuisine