Dine about Town: Lunch at Spruce

by foodhoe on June 14, 2009

3640 Sacramento St. (near Spruce) SF | 415.931.5100 | website

Another Dine About Town whizzed by and I was only able to squeeze in one meal during the short two week window.  This restaurant has been on my list mainly because it was designed by Stephen Brady for Williams-Sonoma Home and I was curious to see what it looked like.  Spruce is in swanky neighborhood in a 1930’s era brick building that was previously an auto shop.  It has a spacious courtyard entrance that is big enough to drive through with high ceilings and elegant limestone floors.  The entrance is flanked by spacious front rooms, one with an oversized fireplace that looks like a cozy and intimate private dining room.  Lovely isn’t it?  The other room has a takeout counter selling delicious looking pastries and coffee.  We were seated near the front where we were assailed by gorgeous smells of fresh brewing coffee.

It is handsome and masculine inside, and I was excited to recognize a WS Home lamp on the bar that I had picked up at a sample sale some time ago.

We enjoyed ourselves at a wide comfortable table where I got to sit in the cushy velvet wing back sofa and my friend TK sat in the faux ostrich chair.  Bless her, she tolerates my weird compulsion about getting the seat with the best light…

There’s an interesting peekaboo window that separates the dining room from the bar.  It accentuates the lofty heights while letting in bright natural light from the skylight above.  I took almost as many pictures of the restaurant as I did of the food, can you tell I liked it?  Secretly, I think that elegant surroundings with dramatic lighting like this make everyone look better.

The restaurant is run by Bacchus Management Group which also owns the Village Pub in Woodside, the Mayfield Bakery and Cafe in Palo Alto and the Antica Pizza chain.  Much of the produce comes from the Bacchus farm in the Santa Cruz Mountains; most other products come from local, sustainable farms and the farm’s delivery truck is supposedly fueled by the restaurant’s recycled cooking oil.

I had the Dine About Town menu ($21.95), which began with Tokyo Turnip Soup, trumpet mushrooms and truffled carrots.  It was thick and creamy and I loved the radishy kick which was well balanced with the sourdough crouton topped with tart, crunchy carrot relish.  I didn’t catch any truffles in this dish, but there was a lot going on flavor wise.

Grilled Ocean Trout, saffron risotto, favas, morel butter.  The trout was a bright rosy pink color with a rich fatty texture similar to salmon and topped with a mound of grainy mustard, that added a pungent acidity, just what it needed.  Again, I wonder why in the world do chefs think that foam is appetizing?  Is it supposed to mimic seafoam?  I would so much rather have a nice creamy sauce…

Underneath the trout was a very delicious cake of a griddled risotto with a crisp chewy crust.  It was similar to hash browns but better.  I cleaned my plate, leaving just the foamy residue…

My dessert was a Lemon Pain de Genes, cherries, vanilla ice cream.   A simple slice of cake made with almond paste topped with a raft consisting of sticky meringue-like cheesecake-y tubes and topped with delicious glazed cherries.

Now my friend TK did not have the set menu and instead ordered a salad of fresh spring vegetables garnished with curls of a mild buttery cheese.

She also enjoyed the Spruce Burger with fries ($14), although she said it was one of the messiest burgers she ever encountered.  Those fries were delicious, rustic and crisp on the outside and soft and creamy inside.  The burger was served with housemade pickles and standard garnishes.

For dessert, she ordered the Beignets that were served with creme anglais and a bittersweet chocolate sauce ($9).  They looked exactly like donut holes and were dusted with a spiced sugary coating.  I thought that I took a picture, but find no such image on my memory card…  Instead I can only show you the two sauces… but I’m sure that you already know what donut holes look like!

If only this were in my neighhborhood… I would definitely be back, although I’d be happiest hanging out in the bar ordering smaller plates and exploring the famous house made charcuterie and dessert menu.  According to their website, they offer fifty different wines by the glass as well as many fortified wines and over 160 German rieslings.

Spruce on Urbanspoon

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa June 14, 2009 at 10:01 pm

The food looks fantastic and I love the atmosphere of the place!

Cheers,

Rosa

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grace June 15, 2009 at 6:53 am

i’m not all about foam on plates–it reminds me of baby spittle. however, that cherry dessert and the burger look like two things i’d enjoy very much.
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Cookie June 15, 2009 at 2:56 pm

We totally didn’t make it to DAT this time. BUMMER! Your trout looks beautiful and I LOVE LOVE LOVE Risotta cakes! The burger looks strangely fake for some reason. Maybe it’s that perfectly shaped bun? YUM those fries look GOOD!
[rq=15763,0,blog][/rq]Platinum Chef Extended!

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Emily June 15, 2009 at 4:25 pm

I agree with you about the foam – weird. Something I have not yet seen in a central Ohio restaurant…

Thanks for visiting my blog. I get to SF only occasionally, but how nice to have a blog to turn to for dining ideas next time I go!
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foodhoe June 15, 2009 at 7:26 pm

Rosa, yes good food and beautiful surroundings that rub off a little glamor
Grace, yep spittle and worse!
Cookie, LOL that’s true about the plastic looking burger. I’m with you on the risotto cakes – true love!
Emily, I hope the foam thing is just a fad! Thanks for swinging by here too.

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rowena June 16, 2009 at 6:24 am

I’m nodding my head on the opinion about foam….I hate the stuff! For anyone to really think that foam is appealing is just plain freakish, because it only reminds me of the fresh shore crabs that used to froth at the mouth when we crammed them in a bucket.

The dessert looks especially divine.

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Gastronomer June 16, 2009 at 12:53 pm

I must admit that I like foams. However, when it comes to fish, they are so much better with sauces, so I can totally understand where you’re coming from!

Btw, I have no idea what a donut hole looks like 😉
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The Single Guy June 17, 2009 at 10:24 am

I’ve been meaning to try this place too! I wished their DAT menu wasn’t just for lunch. 🙁 Your photos looked so beautiful and that soup looked ridiculous!
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foodhoe June 17, 2009 at 2:12 pm

rowena, there are so many weird foamy things that I would never think to put in my mouth… the dessert was especially delicious
gastronomer, hah! surely you jest, you who made those mad delicious looking ones
single guy, you’d like it for sure.

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Kirk June 17, 2009 at 10:25 pm

Hey FH – The trout looks awesome, except for the spittle…ummm, foam.
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Carolyn Jung June 18, 2009 at 7:10 pm

The plating there is just gorgeous. The idea behind foam — when it works — is that it delivers an intense jolt of flavor that just dissipates immediately. almost magically,leaving no texture or body behind. At least that’s what chefs tell me. It’s kind of like a long finish on a great wine. There’s no longer any wine in your mouth, but you still taste it as vividly as if it were still there.
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foodhoe June 19, 2009 at 9:05 am

Kirk, hehe… The color was surprising to me, I wasn’t expecting pink. A new favorite fish.
Carolyn, I like the concept but since I provide personal valet services to two cats, I only see this

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SinoSoul July 1, 2009 at 12:47 pm

how much do I detest foam? depends I s’pose. It’s nearly as bad as generic sweet wine reduction.

Btw, have you been to Range? We’re trying to decide between this and Range for 1 of our dinners this weekend in SF.

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foodhoe July 2, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Sinosoul, I’m hoping the chefs will tire of it soon, cuz I just am not into it. I haven’t been to Range, it’s on my list… Spruce was good for lunch, I don’t know about dinner. Seems pretty pricey for what it’s worth. I love the Mission, so I’d recommend Range just cuz there’s so much fun stuff nearby. BTW, I went to A15 last week and had this crazy chocolate tart topped with olive oil and sea salt that I just can’t stop thinking about. That was highly recommendable.

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SinoSoul July 2, 2009 at 3:26 pm

thnx for the update FH, I’d already booked A16 for t’row’s dinner. w00t!

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