10/31/2007

Maverick - San Francisco, CA

(Pictures for this review taken with my Canon PowerShot SD800is. Transit shots taken with my Canon Rebel XTi.

Ton-Ton's Journey: Vancouver 2007 will continue on Monday, November 5, 2007.)


Writing about our misadventures in Vancouver made me recall a review I've been meaning to post for the longest time. For some reason, Cat and I just don't travel well. Something invariably goes wrong.


(Caltrain station in Mountain View.)


Cat and I were visiting Northern California for Semajim's wedding. Since Passionate Eater had given me such a teasing for not visiting her when I'd last been in the area for my Bachelor Party, I emailed her to see if she wanted to meet up. By sheer chance, she was setting up a food blogger brunch that weekend to celebrate her move to New Orleans. Cat and I were generously extended invitations.


(
BART hub in Millbrae.)


The wedding and the brunch were on the same day. I was worried about traffic and parking, so I decided to use Silicon Valley's usually reliable mass transit system. You noticed the emphasis, right? In order to make sure we weren't late, Cat and I had decided to take an early train so we'd arrive at Maverick an hour early. We were planning to poke around the Mission District and maybe pick up a snack. The best laid plans...



Our northbound train was held up because the train in front of it was suffering mechanical difficulties. As the estimated delay time grew, I became increasingly antsy, until I finally accepted the fact that I was going to be late to the brunch. I phoned Maverick and asked the host to let Passionate Eater know that we were being delayed, and to ask the bloggers to start without us. When our train finally arrived an hour and a half later, I was a wreck. Despite all of my precautions, I was going to miss most of the meet up.



The ride up to Millbrae and the transfer onto the subway were mostly uneventful. We eventually arrived forty-five minutes after everyone else. A grinning Passionate Eater waved to us over to a table just inside the restaurant and introduced us to her Beau, Chef Ben of Cooking with the Single Guy, Foodhoe of Foodhoe's Foraging, and the Bunrabs, a husband and wife food blogging team. As Passionate Eater later said, I couldn't believe how attractive everyone was. To my surprise and embarrassment, they'd waited patiently for us. Thanks, guys. Thank you so much.



A neighborhood eatery in San Francisco's colorful (and odiferous) Mission District, Maverick has garnered rave reviews from local food bloggers and publications over the past two years. Imaginative dishes, excellent service, and a pleasant ambience have earned the restaurant its reputation. Seating is cramped, to say the least, with a tiny dining area in the front and a slightly larger side room. Wild gesticulation is not recommended.



I'm always a little anxious when meeting a group of strangers for the first time. I'm never sure if we'll get along. It was a surprise, then, how quickly I was able to relax with the San Francisco food bloggers. In spite of widely disparate backgrounds, our shared love for food gave us solid common ground from which to branch out to other subjects. The conversation wandered across a wide range of topics, including food, photography, cameras, films, travel, programming, advertising, video games, law, cooking, education, and public transit. It was truly enjoyable.



Since some of the others had already ordered drinks, I decided to join them by getting a soothing Arnold Palmer. A concoction of equal amounts lemonade and iced tea, it was undoubtedly the inspiration for the overly sweetened commecial lemon teas Americans enjoy today. However, the drink is quite pleasant when properly mixed. Sadly, Maverick's version was watery and lacking in flavor.



Our food arrived surprisingly quickly, given the size of our party. Cat's Cornmeal Buttermilk Pancakes were a crispy, golden treat. While the cornmeal added flavor, texture, and natural sweetness, the chef had managed to keep it from weighing down the batter, resulting in a very fluffy pancake that was too sweet for some. The grilled chicken and apple sausage side, made in house, was less enjoyable. There was something off-putting about the combination of ingredients when eaten with the pancakes. A more strongly seasoned sausage might have fared better.



My Andouille Sausage "Benedict" was much less conflicted. Two poached eggs pinned bits of grilled Andouille sausage to mats of toasted English muffin. A rich Jalapeno hollandaise blanketed each mound. Although the menu had mentioned there was crawfish in the dish, I couldn't find any. However, the other elements worked together so well that I didn't miss it. The herbed county potatoes generously piled on the plate were handy for scooping up every drop of the delectable golden sauce.



Chef Ben and Bunrab Chubby picked up sinful plates of Duck Confit Hash, which you can read about here.



The ever fearless Foodhoe went one better and ordered the artery-clogging Fried Oyster Po’Boy, which you can read about here.



After our excellent brunch, we continued the conversation while going for a walk. Passionate Eater, eager to show me some of the other culinary goodies in the area, took us past some San Francisco notables, including Delfina, Tartine, Bi-Rite Market, and Bi-Rite Creamery. I'll cover the last two in separate posts. Sadly, no one was up to taking my suggestion of lunch at Delfina.



It was getting late in the afternoon. Cat and I still had Semajim's wedding to get to. We said our goodbyes to our new friends and headed to the BART station escorted by Chef Ben and Foodhoe, who'd generously offered to make sure we didn't get lost. Guess what happened. Yup, our southbound train was also late. We ended up missing the entire ceremony. *sigh*


Maverick - One of the Mission District's not-so-hidden gems. You'll need to brave the unique ambiance of the neighborhood in order to get to the restaurant, but it's worth the trek. Despite my horrible experience with Caltrain, I still recommend it if you're planning to visit from the Bay Area. You'll save a lot of money on gas and parking. For the most part, you'll save time as well, especially during the congested weekdays. In my decades of riding Silicon Valley's public transit system, I've only been delayed like that on one other occasion. I guess I was about due.


Bill:

Arnold Palmer - ?
Cornmeal Buttermilk Pancakes - $11.00
Andouille Sausage "Benedict" - $13.00


Flavor: B
Ambience: A
Service: A
ROI: B

Overall: A-


Maverick
3316 17th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
1-415-863-3061
Restaurant website
The Foodies Digest - The blog of Maverick Chef and Owner, Scott Youkilis.


Maverick reviews by my food blogger friends:

Posts about our brunch:

8 comments:

Thanks Chubbypanda for bringing back memories of our fun brunch. That was ages ago! Your post reminds me I have to visit Maverick soon and try that andouille benedict. Too bad about missing the ceremony. Hopefully you got there in time for the banquet! ;-)

Even though it's delayed, it's perfect timing for me! I'm going up north next weekend. Thanks for the suggestion.

I've been wondering when you were going to write about this. I'm sorry I couldn't make the brunch, as it looks like it was a lot of fun. Not sure I could handle a whole table of food bloggers snapping pictures all at once, though ;-) Anyway, I have enjoyed reading your and everyone else's posts about it.

I'm in the mood for breakfast food now...

And I work with Jim Brenner for journal at my school ... he said you guys are good friends? Such a small world!

Chef Ben,

Fortunate that you live so close, you lucky dog. San Francisco has so many great restaurants.

KT,

Cool! Let me know how you like it.

Eric,

I'm sorry to have missed you. I'll send you an email the next time I'm back up north.

Taste Taster,

A really small world. Passionate Eater went to the same school you guys are at and turned out to be good friends with another good friend of mine from high school. Weird, huh?

- Chubbypanda

hola CP, awww that sucks big time that the train was late! I really had fun meeting you all and I'm still thinking about that ice cream cone I had... Keep us posted on future visits up this way.

CP, you told me that it WASN'T because of me that you were late!!! My heart is busting out of my chest in sadness. I hope that one day I can make it up to you by inviting you to my wedding!

Foodhoe,

I had a great time meeting you guys too. I'll definitely give you and Chef Ben a ring the next time I'm up north. No worries about the train. It happens. =)

PE,

It's 100% not your fault that we were late to the wedding. We left the group with what should have been plenty of time to make it down to San Martin. I provided lots of padding time for both the trips up and down. It was just a spot of bad luck that Caltrain was having problems that day, coupled with the fact that the trains only run every hour on Sunday. Please don't worry about it, although I'd love to attend your future wedding. =)

- Chubbypanda