Primal socket for sustenance
Two years in the business, an ambitious restaurant like Osito is a daunting task, especially when these two years are a pandemic. Chef Seth Stowaway’s first restaurant recently opened in late December 2021, has crowd-sourced investors, and tested a labor of love in its pop-ups, where people can invest at all levels (even under $10). From the start, the warm service and space make it feel shared and unified.
In fact, he walks in pristinOn an early January night, when a fiery sunset illuminated the adjacent Neon Heath Ceramics sign, the space exuded the warmth of sustainably reused redwoods and harvested sugar pine. Liliana’s cocktail bar is to the left of the entrance, while on the right is the Terpeluk studio’s wood-lined dining room featuring greens and plants facing an open kitchen. At a long communal table under amazing brass chandeliers, it really felt like a Michelin level experience with a tight and attentive team.
I must say, it was nice to dine at a group table again, although they are well spaced out. Over the years, I’ve dined at several live-fire restaurants, whether it was a lackluster experience at Singapore’s famous Burnt Ends, or the understated innovative tasting menus at SF (recently reopened) Gibson before the Gibson pandemic. So, while cooking over an open flame isn’t a new trend, I haven’t tried it quite as well as Osito, San Francisco’s only 100% live-fire restaurant. without Microwave ovens or burners. The wood-burning stove and stove, specially designed by blacksmith Jürgen Harley, are filled with almond and oak wood.
With two night sessions (5 and 8:30 p.m.) and $295 per person (plus taxes and gratuities) plus an optional wine pairing ($105) or a spare wine pairing ($155), that’s a splurge. But let’s talk about why, even in a city teeming with the three most Michelin-starred restaurants in the country, that hasn’t happened yet. else A unique fine dining experience in SF that pushes the boundaries.
This all becomes even more impressive when you realize that it’s Stowaway’s first restaurant. South Texas is where he grew up cooking outdoors, eventually relocating to San Francisco where for the past fifteen years he has been Assistant Chef at Michelin-starred Mister Jiu’s and Executive Chef of Bar Agricole Group. I’ve experienced pairs of excellent service and wine from his team over the years: Wine Manager Maz Naba (whose resume includes Coi, Rich Table, and Nico), COO Lucia Camarda (formerly at Flour + Water Hospitality Group), Beverage Manager John Prange (formerly Almond and Oak and Wildhawk) and Service Manager Madison Michael (formerly at Merchant Roots).
Husband Dan and I hit the opening menu, focusing on the Winter Games birds, while February moves on to local seafood (reservations at Tock). I live a lot for seafood but the game birds weren’t shown enough, especially as a full menu, and this restaurant was full of surprises.
First, we started with the cocktails at Liliana mentioned above. I haven’t been able to sample Chef Bethany Hunt’s dishes at the bar since I’ve been staying hungry for a multi-course Osito feast, but I was intrigued by the bar’s menu of elevated dishes like kanpachi in almond milk, watermelon vinegar and chili, or local dung crab garnished with herbs, chicory, red orange and anchovies. .
We really felt like coming back to the people we knew in the pub, as we felt like the wood-lined sanctuary. The Foreign Affair was the best of the first three drinks I tried, Spiritual yet subtle and elegant The soft pink drink served in a Nick & Nora glass showcases a base of mezcal and sotol (the spirit of Mexican desert bush), dry with white vermouth, Cocchi Americano Rosa and hiss of absinthe. Homemade liqueurs make the base for low-resistant Lowballs, like home-roasted dandelion or soda-dipped roasted nettle spirit.
After drinks, we were escorted to the dining room with a small bourbon-aperol welcome cocktail. Although there are technically nine courses including mignardises (candy bites), some courses contain three different elements or parts of the animal, so it felt like much more than that. The full use of animals always makes me grateful, while local produce and ingredients everywhere give way to home pickled, fermented, and preserved foods.
Three small pieces arrive first, skillfully displayed on locally made dishes. While a mushroom-chestnut tartlet is a delicious treat, a masa ball of fermented beans, rillette, and lemon jelly on top tastes like Mexico with a twist. A mini sweet potato bun throws a traditional blini on top, yes, with Tsar Nicholas’ caviar, but on top of a layer of sour cream and sour huitlacoche (roasted corn or mushrooms for you), resulting in a salty bite of heaven. Pairing the acidity of the wine with the 2019 oak-free Altesse Famille Peillot Roussette du Bugey from old vineyards in Saovie, France, lends root satiation for three bites.
Hopping forward, the third course—another trilogy, this time from the guinea hen—was the show of the night, singing with pair Nappa a refreshing Pinot Noir Rose Champagne from Guy de Forez 2017. The treated guinea hen was like an old fish with little Of chewy and delicious sashimi, treated in hazelnut oil, dotted with rehydrated fig jam. From texture to flavor, it amazed me that this was chicken. A rich round of chicken sausage and abalone with apple and pine puree. This is the kind of sausage I didn’t have and didn’t know I needed. The guinea fowl tartare is particularly cheerful, as silky seafood tartare or sashimi recall raw chicken in Japan (served locally at Iboku in Berkeley). The cold, textured tartare mixed with quince and hot mustard in almond milk was a truly “wonderful” moment. Over 12,000 restaurants around the world later, it’s very rare that I have something that I haven’t tasted this way. This is this kind of dish.
Brassica cycle (in this case, Romanesco broccoli) Seriously “goosed up” (forgive the pun) with one of Piedmont, Italy’s favorites: bagna càuda (spicy garlic and anchovies)—and Stowaway’s floss floss, recalling Chinese pork floss the style he made at Mister Jiu’s, turns into sweet, savory strands.
The main course comes roast duck in multiple bites with a side of brown rice with wild mushrooms and fermented vegetables, plus cabbage stewed in whey. A round of rare roast duck uses a blend of favorite flavor – orange and chocolate – with tangerine and preserved cocoa. The duck liver dish is stuffed with brandy cherries with a small cake. The tender duck heart contrasts with the salted plum. It’s hard to beat the juicy duck wing, however, as sweet umami blessed in a layer of Medjool dates, black garlic, and pomegranate. A wine blend of a rare 2015 Nusserhof Elda Schiava red wine blend from the Alto Adige region of northern Italy (where I’ve had the honor to travel three times), completes this course with balanced acidity and red, earthy fruit.
Naba combines an icy-cold palate cleanser from pear and nettles with the graceful, sweet, creamy, low-fat Harushika Tokimeki Tokimeki Nama Chozo Junmai (Nama is the category of fresh, unpasteurized sake that I’ve been crazy about for a long time), while I’ve been in California Winter A persimmon-honey dessert And mushroom cap candy ends feast.
The glow of the room, the staff and the care of one of the most inspiring bushmeat chains I have ever tasted made our way home. I immediately started planning how to save enough and find time in the schedule to get to their seafood menu – and the spring vegetable menu afterwards. Hello Ossetto. It was worth the wait.