We’ve likely all dabbled in a pop-up meal or two—trying to find something new and unusual, on the quest for a hidden gem. Maybe you signed up through an app for a one-time dinner at a unique location or with a potentially up-and-coming chef, or perhaps followed the advice of a foodie friend who passed along a hot tip.
One thing’s for certain: Any pop-up that can make the leap from one-off to establishment has some magic in the sauce. Welcome to Sorrel, the newest restaurant to go from pop-up to permanent, now open in Presidio Heights.
But first, let’s back up a bit.
After honing his skills at San Francisco’s Quince and New York’s Jean Georges, chef Alex Hong partnered with Colby Heiman (now director of operations) to launch a series of tasting menu dinners that would showcase Hong’s insanely precise style of seasonal Californian cuisine. Three years and 135 sold-out suppers later, you could say they excelled.
With the transition into a fully operational restaurant on Sacramento Street, a new a la carte menu takes the place of the pop-up’s pre-fixe, allowing guests choose their own dining adventure. And it’s quite an experience.
Chef Hong’s greatest skill is utilizing the best of what’s in season to artfully mastermind dishes around primo local ingredients that change regularly, if not daily. The style is clever and complex, yet casual and approachable—think illuminating pastas, the lightest crudo and tartare, refined meats, and an out-of-this-world homemade bread. Everything—right down to the herbs sourced from the restaurant’s rooftop garden—fits into a singular theme: fresh.
Across the street from Garibaldi’s in Presidio Heights, Sorrel is open for dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays.
The insanely good sourdough focaccia is made in house daily and served warm in a claypot dish with a side of four-day-cultured butter topped with a few leaves of the restaurant’s namesake herb.
Don’t miss the rich, roasted sunchoke soup with white miso, hazelnuts, a few choice sunchokes, and sage from the rooftop garden.
The perfect starter, the fresh crudo of madai (red sea bream) is served in a shallow bowl of nut milk and finger lime with poppy seeds and grapefruit.
Hong learned a thing or two about pasta while working at Quince, and it shows. Few things could be more comforting than his juicy smoked-duck-filled tortellini in brodo with sliced fava beans and crispy cracklings.
Make sure to scoop up some of the crumbly pork sausage sugo and broccoli di cicco with every bite of these pleasantly plump orecchiettes.
If you’ve made it through the carb gauntlet and still have room for a larger dish, the wagyu zabuton (the name refers to its shape and cut) is a solid choice, teamed with large spears of smoked asparagus and shavings of crispy parsnips.
Of course, there’s always room for dessert. The menu offers a range of delightfully unusual sweets such as this salty-sweet square of buckwheat ice cream layered with almond praline, puffed grains, and olive oil.