You looooved Bar Tartine. And you dug Duna (even if the self-serve thing was kind of confusing), and now you’re planning to pop in for another taste of those flavors perfected by chef Nick Balla, whose newest concept, Smokebread, is popping up at The Perennial in SoMa.
Like a Duna 2.0, Smokebread is serving up healthy lunches in the form of hearty spoon salads (though the term “salad” doesn’t quite do Balla’s dishes justice) and, of course, to-die-for bread.
Let’s start there, because obviously it’s the star. At Duna, Balla turned out an exceptional smoked potato flatbread, a dish he’s been tweaking over the years. His latest iteration is a soft, thick loaf, slightly buttery and salty with a hint of smokiness from the potatoes. The heft of this bread might intimidate you at first—but that’s before you realize its talent for sopping up all those delicious salad juices.
Big heaping bowls of fresh ingredients blend together a selection of the essentials: veggies, cheese, olives, nuts, and meats in oils and vinegar—honestly, there’s nary a leafy green in sight.
Of course, Duna diehards will also remember Balla’s dips. The housemade sprouted hummus and paprika cheese dip have been reincarnated at Smokebread as delightful companions to thick sourdough slices. The result is a highly satisfying lunch of robust Central European flavors.
Chef Nick Balla’s Smokebread is popping up at lunchtime at The Perennial, Tuesdays through Fridays, 10:30am until 2pm.
Savor your hearty lunch bowl in the natural, well-lit space.
My favorite Duna dip, the liptauer paprika cheese spread, has made the transition to Smokebread. You could call it cheese crack.
Grab a spoon to get the most of the Sofia salad, a chunky, harmonious blend of halved tomatoes, cucumber slices, olives, and pickled beans topped with feta cheese and swimming in a marjoram vinaigrette.
Avocado lovers rejoice, the Taketa salad has all your healthy fat plus cubes of Japanese sweet potatoes, broccoli, pickled fennel, spiced sunflower seeds, and sprouts atop a creamy mound of sunflower tahini.
If you’re looking for something a little more meaty, the Duna spoon salad is the play. A dish from Balla’s previous restaurant, cubes of salami and pepper jack cheese mingle with thinly sliced peppers and tomatoes in a red wine vinaigrette.
Salads star at Smokebread, but you can also amp up the meal with sides including homemade sprouted hummus (pictured), a soft-cooked-and-brined egg, and sunflower chicken salad.