242 O’Farrell St, SF, CA 94102 | 415.433.4332 | website
I met up with some friends for happy hour at Bartlett Hall, which opened its doors just last week. A bit of the googles and I learned that it was in Union Square and that the chef Emmanuel Eng had been at Maverick restaurant which closed last October after a fire. The name is inspired by Washington Montgomery Bartlett, a 19th-century prospector turned newspaper publisher, show was also the 20th mayor of San Francisco and shortlived governor of California. It is a multi-concept restaurant, bar, lounge and microbrewery where Chris Wike of Golden Gate Brewery just began to brew beer on-site, and the bar features barrel-aged cocktails.
Bartlett Hall evokes an era of old world San Francisco – there is a bit of a speakeasy feel about the place, an abundance of large glass orbs filled with glowing elements like old radio tubes, dark wood lounge areas encourage you to peruse the cabinet of curiosities full of treasures from the past.
We sat in the back room, just past the big stainless tank where you could watch the brewmaster who was busy tinkering with the equipment. Our server was excellent, he made us feel immediately at home and mentioned that they had only been open since Tuesday and were still working out the kinks.
We started with some dishes from the Snacks section, which are meant to be shared. The meaty Miso and Maple Glazed Ribs ($12) were tender and flavorful and served over a generous smear of curry made with pureed cauliflower. Super finger licking good, and the meat fell off the bones with the slightest tug of your teeth. It was so good, we had another order….
The Chicken Wings ($12) were quite spicy, coated with fermented pepper sauce and served with Caramelized Kimchee and bacon aioli (which was especially good on the fries)
My favorite dish of the night was the Squid ink brioche ($9) a long piece of toasted buttery brioche that was liberally smeared above and below with avocado yogurt mousse, topped with wild king salmon roe, everything bagel spices, and fresh dill. What makes this dish so compelling are the contrasting textures and each bite is bursting with vivid intense flavor.
We enjoyed an order of the Kennebec French Fries ($5) served with a trio of dips: harissa aioli, tamarind ketchup, IPA honey mustard. The fries stayed crispy and were tender within.
We swooned over the asparagus salad ($13) mostly because of the exquisite Burrata cheese drizzled with fruity olive oil, a smear of fresh fava bean pesto along with a handful of lava brand and asparagus spears hid under a mound of arugula tossed with a bright flavored preserved meyer lemon vinaigrette
The roasted flat iron steak and roasted bone marrow ($30) was the most expensive and least interesting of the lot. There were triangles of toasted country bread to smear the marrow on, herb salad, strawberries, drizzled with balsamic reduction sauce.
We had to order the Maverick ($16) also known as the Butter Burger, which made with 70 is Cheddar and stout rarebit, crispy onions, Kennebec fries. It is made of 70% Meyer Ranch chuck (cured for 24 hours), 20% butter, and 10% bacon, all ground together. The patties are individually vacuum sealed and sous vide’d with more butter, before being seared in a buttered cast-iron skillet. The burger is served with cheddar and stout rarebit and crispy onion strings on top on a deliciously buttery bun.
And of course we had to order the Free range chicken ($26) a platter with southern fried breast, thigh roulade, charred scallion, cashew mole, baby spring carrots, carrot top pesto
This was a plate of surprises, the thigh roulade had an excellent texture, topped with pesto made from carrot top greens and placed on a smear of mole sauce which was flavorful with mysterious spices. On the other side of the long platter was a piece of fried chicken, (another Maverick specialty), the meat was juicy and the batter was crunchy and well-seasoned.
We were pretty full but rallied onto dessert and shared the Dark Chocolate Brownie ($9) which was beautifully plated, elegantly garnished with chantilly creme and a disk of dark chocolate brittle. The Mezcal Butterscotch was so amazing and good, we asked who the pastry chef was, and were duly impressed to find out that chef Eman had devised the desserts too.
The Buttermilk Panna Cotta ($8) was tart and richly creamy, topped with caramelized strawberries, but the star of the plate were the little churro bits! Wish we could have ordered those on the side… Bartlett Hall, please add that to the menu!
The Guiness and Bourbon Float ($10) was refreshing and bracing, we each got our own straw to sip from, and spoons to scoop up the rich vanilla and chocolate ice cream.
We really enjoyed the meal and were surprised when we noticed that four and a half hours had passed, that’s definitely several hours past happy! It’s great to see new restaurants in Union Square that are just blocks away from BART.