TBD, San Francisco

April 8, 2014

TBD opened on Mission Street, near the Civic Center, in November, 2013. Linda and I went for dinner three months later on February 12, 2014. The restaurant’s website says:

TBD {”to be determined”} is the philosophy behind our restaurant. Everything on the menu is determined by seasonal availability of local products. The result is a dynamic, frequently-changing menu cooked entirely by live fire in a custom Grillworks wood-burning hearth.

The aroma of woodsmoke pervades the restaurant as well as the chatter of its young clientele and music for them.
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tbd 025 (480x236) 

We were seated at a table towards the back where I had a good view of the fiery cooking area. There are also a balcony with tables that look down on the fires and a counter in front of them. The tables have drawers which contain what one will need: menus, napkins, tableware etc, an idea pioneered by Relæ in Copenhagen, which has a similar youthful, casual ambience.

Linda ordered a glass of Reissdorf Kolsch beer. I had a glass of Ca’Del Bosco Chardonnay Blend Cuvée Prestige Franciacorta Brut. A good start after our half hour walk to TBD.

The menu, including the beverage offerings, is printed on one large sheet in a grid format. We chose two courses in each of the small, medium and large price categories. We shared all six dishes. I had a dessert. We ordered a bottle of 2007 Fort Ross Sonoma Coast Pinotage.
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Very good and right with the cuisine.

Our first dish was
griddled corn cake, jack cheese
& mushroom escabeche
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This was disappointing  because the corn flour remained doughy after its griddling. The mushrooms were overly vinegary.

seaweed bread
cultured butter & coastal seaweeds
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This was very good. The breads were freshly baked, slathered with rich butter and topped with various seaweeds with interesting flavors. 

dry-farmed potato
jalapeño & scallion
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Potato chunks had been oven-roasted. The slabs of sea urchin had also been lightly roasted, which made them firmer. Unfortunately, despite their delicate flavor, they had been dressed with small hot pepper flakes; the jalapeño rings provided sufficient and more interesting heat. The ratio of uni to potato should have been higher.

cooked in the coals,
buttermilk & oyster “verde”
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The leek had picked up good flavor from its roasting in the hot wood coals. The greens and buttermilk curds were well chosen additions. Excellent.

sprouted lentils, white sesame & mint
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The carrots had also absorbed flavor from their roasting over a wood fire, which also brought out their own good, earthy taste. The garnishes, with sesame lightly dominating, were just right. 

smashed turnips,
fermented greens & our “A-1”
tbd 022 (480x382)
The seasonal roasted turnips, beets and fermented greens were an appropriately sturdy accompaniment to the good beef, charred on the outside and still red inside. This was a much more substantial course than the others.

Carolina rice pudding
malt & candied heirloom squash
tbd 024 (480x279)
The rice was quite firm. This was a good adaptation of comfort food to TBD’s style.

We had a good time and were glad we came to TBD. The dishes were unusual and creative in their conception and preparation. Five of the seven dishes were successful for us. The service was always excellent and the pace was good. The noise level was very high, but that could be expected.


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