© Fabulorum. José Medio

There is a new kid on the block in the Mission district of San Francisco, called “Saint Vincent”. The name was inspired by the patron saint of winemakers. Appropriate for the re-incarnation of this zone, the interior is stylish in a funky and industrial way. True to its namesake, there is a profusion of wine bottles in an impressive array and diversity. At any given moment a select number of bottles are already open and available by the glass. Others may be purchased by the full or half bottle, each server an impressively knowledgable sommelier. The food menu, humble and homey at a glance, reveals itself to be slyly sophisticated and satisfying. That this pairing of food and wine is ultimately so glorious is not surprising, considering the thoroughbred bloodline.

The owner, David Lynch, is young but definitely not a neophyte on the food and wine scene. Most recently working at “Cotogna”,   (the Italian word for quince) and her more upscale mother-restaurant, “Quince”, he has earned James Beard awards for his wine program, seriously curating selections to accompany the food. Here he teams up with chef Bill Niles, who formerly manned the kitchen at “Bar Tartine” (another Mission district restaurant, offspring of the celebrated bakery, “Tartine”, around the corner). Niles proves himself to be a true alchemist, transforming seemingly mundane menu items, such as soft pretzels and pickled eggs, into transcendental versions of themselves. His imagination and creativity avoid gimmickry and produce surprisingly fresh and delicious courses made with the best local ingredients in season.

The Bay Area restaurant scene could be graphed in the form of a family tree: It all started in the “gourmet ghetto” of Berkeley in the 70’s, when Alice Waters gave birth to California Cuisine at her now venerable restaurant “Chez Panisse”. Various  former chefs, members of the Chez Panisse family, have gone on to spawn some notable restaurants of their own: Paul Bertolli, created “Olivetto” on the Berkeley/Oakland border. Jeremiah Tower left to open the “Santa Fe Grille” in Berkeley and “Stars” in San Francisco, Hong Kong, etc. Michael Tusk, together with his wife, Lindsay, begat the restaurant,”Quince” in San Francisco, later moved from Pacific Heights to Jackson Square and along came the more casual cousin next door, “Cotogna”. From this branch of the family, the youthful David Lynch has given birth to his own baby, “Saint Vincent”, and no telling what marvels succeeding generations may produce…

 

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