Amid the bedlam of the holidays, True Laurel sneakily opened in a quiet culinary corridor of the Mission.
Coming from the Lazy Bear team, True Laurelt is a must-visit for any foodie. Chef David Barzelay and bar director Nicolas Torres have put together an elevated menu of a la carte small plates and drinks, a complete flip on the tasting-menu-only format of Lazy Bear, offering an affordable and accessible way to experience their cuisine and eccentric mix of cocktails.
True Laurel was inspired from Barzelay’s recent trip to Tokyo, where he visited an intimate cocktail den called Gen Yamamoto, where he was served by Yamamoto himself. There, at the eight-seater bar, he experienced a personalized selection of cocktail courses, each incorporating many custom ingredients, rare spirits, and seasonal produce. He wanted to replicate that intimate, one-on-one interaction between bartender and a small number of patrons here in San Francisco, and with Torres, created a menu of craft drinks and light bites to support the custom bartending experience. Think sips that use whole fruit, special wines, and house-made liquors showcased in curated antique glassware. The food skews towards upscale comfort, not restricted by any one region of cooking—the menu is marked by a number of different cuisines. Everything is small and shareable, inviting you to dive into several plates to sample, taste and share. Next up, just around the corner in 2018, the team will offer their version of an experimental tasting menu of five cocktails with food pairings at the eight-person bar with two seatings per night. We’re already planning our next date night.
About True Laurel
The interior designed by Nicholas Roberto in collaboration with Barzelay and Torres with an emphasis on balance between both man-made and nature-influenced elements.
The L-shaped bar invites patrons to cozy up for cocktails. Make sure to take a glance at the main bar counter itself—it’s made from a section of a laurel tree and white-green quartzite.
Expect cocktails utilizing an ever-changing list of ingredients, using seasonal produce, apéritifs from Europe and the US, and a unique selection of distinct wines from around the world.
The Shaker Lemon Stirred cocktail (left) is made with Meyer lemon rind-infused fino, moscato chinato, wheat vodka and a dash of lemon leaf oil. The A-Dilla cocktail (right) is graced with True Laurel’s aquavit, dill, and Makrut leaf balanced with a fruity blend of passionfruit, coconut, and pomegranate. The team is dedicated to thoughtfully using all parts of their cocktail produce ingredients—for example, the juice, peel, and pith of a lemon—reducing waste, and boosting flavor.
True Laurel’s scallop crudo presentation is invitingly playful, and unsuspecting with small cubes of crisp apple and turnip, accented with apple cider vinegar and brightened by sprigs of dill and frisée.
Order the little gems salad to look forward to these delicate bundles topped with a thick avocado green goddess dressing and, as the chef calls it, “crispy stuff.”
One dish on the menu sure to catch your eye will be the crab fondue—a delightful pot of melted aged cheddar with chunks of Dungeness crab meat begging to be scooped up by crudités and toast.
With the endless options for a good burger in this city, it’s always exciting to see someone taking a turn at proving the worth of a solid patty melt. This once consists of four-ounces of griddled beef with melted cheese, caramelized onion special sauce, and pickles—mouthwateringly simple.
One of Barzelay’s favorite dishes is the bone broth ramen—his version of the perfect hangover comfort food that’s so good it’s worth putting the effort into it. He throws in crumbles of country ham sausage, a slew of seasonal greens, ramen noodles, and a marinated egg.
The Bae Breez cocktail highlights Torres‘ inclination to using wine in his drinks, layering in a cabernet sauvignon with Schwarzwald gin, bright pineapple, lemon, and bay laurel.
If you’re used to signing off your meals with something sweet, the warm housemade chocolate chip cookies will do the trick. Barzelay deliberately bakes these in an elongated shape to accompany tall, narrow glasses of milk for dipping; dedicated glassware is coming soon to the restaurant.
This neighborhood spot will surely always be a steady bustle of memorable good times.