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Mission Rock Café

Same Great Views, Even Better Food

My mother’s rule of thumb for restaurants is the nearer the water, the worse the food. Experience has shown that she is often right (Fisherman’s Wharf), but sometimes wrong (Greens). In the case of the Mission Rock Café, now under new management and a new executive chef, Bronson Macomber (formerly of Gary Danko), my mother’s rule is wrong. Sorry Mom.

San Francisco clubgoers may be familiar with Kelly’s Mission Rock as a nightclub, but they may not realize that the spot turns into a lunch/brunch café six days a week. In fact, Mission Rock Café is probably the ideal place to recharge and refuel after a night out partying, if not just to enjoy a relaxing mid-day meal and a water view. The restaurant offers both a tasty selection of California cuisine blended with traditional comfort food, and a nostalgic, industrial bayfront setting.

The décor is modern and loft-like -- lots of bare metal railings with pine floors and beamed ceilings. If you choose to sit inside, there are plenty of large windows to give you a good view of the shipyard and AT&T Park. But since the cavernous space does double duty as a club, it can seem a bit cold. Unless it’s raining outside, you’ll probably want to sit out on the deck anyway. Even on a cold day in winter with a mild breeze, the deck, warmed by heat lamps, is quite comfortable.

During the weekdays, you can select from the lunch menu, which has a selection of starters such as Dungeness crab cakes with Piquillo pepper remoulade ($10) or a grilled chicken romaine salad with crumbled egg, blue cheese and candied walnuts ($11). Main entrees include the Lagunitas beer-battered fish and chips ($11) and the veggie burger ($8).

On our first visit, we had a wait a bit for our server after we were seated, but we amused ourselves by gazing out across the bay to the Port of Oakland. When she did realize her oversight, she made up for it by stopping frequently to make sure our water and coffee were refilled.

We ordered the Portuguese sausage sandwich with roasted peppers, mozzarella and caramelized onions ($8); the spiked BBQ grilled chicken with Swiss cheese, lettuce and tomatoes ($9); and the red and golden beet salad with spring greens, lardons, and shaved Manchego ($8). We found the amount of dressing on the side of greens that came with the sausage a little overwhelming, but the flavor was good. The beets and green salad had the right mix sweet and spicy.

On our second trip, we tried the Spanish Chorizo Scramble with green chilies, artichoke hearts and Australian white cheddar, which came with a toast and an ample serving of home fries ($8), and a Niman Ranch grilled burger served with lettuce, tomatoes and grilled onions accompanied by a side of fries ($10). The eggs were a bit salty and had a bit too much onion for my taste, but the chilies and cheese gave it a good tangy bite.

If you’re looking to take the edge off of last night’s partying, or want to get an early start on your weekend, Mission Rock Café also has a large selection of popular cocktails, like a Grey Goose cosmo ($10), wine ($6) and beer ($5).

Even though its location off the beaten track may make it seem a little out of the way for most city dwellers, Mission Rock Café is worth the trip, if not just for the water view (and parking), but also for the good food at reasonable prices.

Mission Bay

Reservations Essential? No.