Reverb Kitchen & Bar CLOSED 2323 Polk St./Union St., Russian Hill, (415) 441-2323. D daily, Sat-SunBr; $$.
Related to Gather in Berkeley and an offshoot of Verbena, which operated in this space previously, Reverb aims to serve innovative comfort food. The ceiling is high and features a large skylight, one wall is brick, and plenty of rustic reclaimed wood is incorporated into the decor.
The inviting bar area is separated by a divider, and sidewalk-side seating is popular and available in good weather.
The young chef, Ryan Shelton, was previously at Michelin 2-star Baumé in Palo Alto, which probably helps explain why the dishes are so delicious and presented so beautifully. The menu is balanced between meat and vegetable items, so you’ll find pole bean-chickpea flour fritters with chutneys; asparagus soup with lemon-coconut ice cream and grilled asparagus; New York strip steak with wilted baby roots and red wine sauce; and crispy pork ribs with baby greens and galangal-tamari. A popular house specialty, fried chicken with an amaranth and cornmeal waffle includes butterscotch-apple maple syrup and charred greens. It is served at dinner using breast meat and at brunch using a full leg cut in three pieces. I had the divine brunch version—the chicken skin, waffle, and well-seasoned kale accompanying them were all crispy-crisp perfection, and the chicken meat, which is marinated and then poached for three hours, was succulent.
A house-pickled zucchini pickle used as a garnish was a special treat (the pickle can vary from watermelon rind to a radish to a green tomato).
My dining partner ordered a smoked-salmon Benedict on a potato latke, which was both gorgeous and delicious.
We each paired our dishes with a bright-orange Mimosa, which wound up also brightening the day.
If you had a rough night before and fit the description, you might want to opt for a Corpse Reviver made with gin, lilet blanc, cointreau, and absinthe. More entrees I’d like to try Include the peach cobbler French toast and the fried-egg sandwich with goat cheese and healthy-for-you maitake mushrooms. We concluded our feast with sweet little ricotta donuts sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and served attractively on a wood slab.
Sunday brunch is served all day. Vegan, vegetarian, and glutin-free items are noted on the menu.
This neighborhood is filled with small shops. I particularly enjoy the Russian Hill Bookstore at #2234. It spreads through a warren of small rooms, and in addition to books galore also stocks great gifts—I especially like the huge collection of silk-screened kitchen towels--and greeting cards and has a well-stocked children’s room.
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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers