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Mina Delivers a Taste of Burgundy

Sophistication and substance are givens with a Michael Mina restaurant. rn74, his latest creation, located on the ground floor of the SoMa luxury residence Millennium Tower, is no exception. Get past the moniker (which takes its name from Route National 74, the road that runs through the most prestigious wine houses of Burgundy, France) that follows the familiar trend of letter/digit restaurant titles (A16, 5A5), and you’ll find a sleek space that’s equal parts industrial concrete and luxurious dark wood.

Slight touches of a modern train depot with tall boards listing market wines (100 selections under $100), flip periodically to a new selection like a train marquee marking the next destination. Window shades and red undertones from the upholstery to the high-ceiling lamps impart a sleek, night train atmosphere. The wine bar occupies the other half of the space. Although Mina’s aim is for something more casual reflected in jean-clad servers, don’t be fooled -- service is flawless and knowledgeable.

Sommelier Rajat Parr who leads the wine program enjoyed creating the gargantuan 5,000-bottle list that centers on the multitude of Burgundy pinot noirs and chardonnays. He explores other varietals and new world styles from other regions of the world. But with serious wines come serious prices. As the market list contains merely 100 of the 5,000 selections under $100, wine prices can run the tab up very quickly.

Those looking for an aperitif will be delighted with the small but enticing list of cocktails. We started with the featured “Pimm’s” 74 ($12), inspired by the “Ritz Pimm’s at Bar Hemingway in Paris’ Hotel Ritz. The summery, refreshing, super-sized cocktail is made with a housemade Pimm’s No. 1, ginger beer, and champagne, served in a wide tulip-shaped Burgundy glass and filled with fruit, sliced cucumber, and radishes.

Jason Berthold, a French Laundry alum, takes the helm at rn74’s kitchen. His menu is structured to perfectly pair the complex and elegant Burgundian wines.

We snacked on a few “anytime” small plates ($9 each) to start. The maitake mushroom tempura with yuzu salt and green onion mousseline would’ve benefited tremendously from more yuzu salt, let alone plain salt. The mousseline did possess yuzu, but it was barely noticeable. The paté de campagne, composed of veal and pork fat was fairly good, helped by cornichons, a grainy, Burgundian mustard, and French prune jelly.

The foie gras terrine ($22), however, was a lovely dish that absolutely delivered. A bar of the rich, silky foie gras was beautifully blanketed with a layer of Dijon gelee, surrounded by slices of grilled peach, and leaves of arugula that frame the plate, beaded with a cornichon gastrique. The crispy soft-shell crab ($17) sprinkled with frisee on a bed of celery leaf remoulade, was also a flavorful starter. And the sautéed pork belly and manila clams ($15) in a smoky paprika broth promised a harmony between the fatty flavor of the belly with the salty sea essence from the clams.

At first sight, it seemed to us that the small plates and appetizers were given more care and thought than the main courses. But we were proven wrong with a stellar duck cassoulet ($27) over barley. The skin was delicate. Although the bird was on the salty side, it was balanced by its subtly flavored broth and shiitake mushrooms. The textbook medium–rare grilled beef rib eye ($28) with lardons and a bone marrow bordelaise sauce was another promising option that easily lives up to a refined Gevry Chambertin pinot.

Desserts ($9) equally take the palate on a ride. Beignets are given a savory turn with the fried pillows matched with mascarpone, blueberries, lemon thyme, and a ras al hanout sorbet. The chocolate delice combines roasted banana with brown butter cashew ice cream and chocolate mousse sprinkled with espresso powder.

Each plate plays a different melody of dissonant flavors, but they work. And they work with the impressive wines. For a taste of rn74 though, it will require some deep pockets.


Reservations Essential? Yes.