The intersection of London and San Francisco
By Tom Sietsema
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Mayfair & Pine was hatched as a family-friendly destination, which is why the restaurant sticks toast in its bread basket. Toast is what chef Emily Sprissler and her young son eat together at home in the morning, and crisp, buttered bread is what kids seem to choose over, say, “rosemary foccacia,” jokes the Season 2 “Top Chef” contestant.
Her kitchen co-pilot is Jason Cote, who happens to be her husband. The couple’s new gastropub in Glover Park takes its name from London, where they spent their honeymoon, and the street they called home when they cooked in San Francisco. Their short menu blends memories from the two cities, plus a few comforts. Fish and chips? Check. Cioppino? Accounted for. Also on the list are scrambled eggs and buttery mushrooms, heaped on a cushion of (take a guess) toast.
The best-sellers thus far, reports Sprissler: Fish and chips, shepherd’s pie and the Thanksgiving sandwich. “Even in this heat,” says Sprissler, “stuffing and turkey and mashed potatoes hit the spot.”
An encounter with the shepherd’s pie made more of an impression on my eyes than on my tongue; a small Mason jar displays the layering of bland ground lamb, potatoes and peas. The lamb burger, gray but juicy, requires two hands to hoist and comes with big fries cooked here. Crisp seared rockfish teeters on a loose bed of carrots, sliced potatoes and citrus segments. The entree is . . . nothing special.
But the attention from the staff can be. Ask for Elijah, one of the sunniest servers around.
My favorite food memory is one of Mayfair & Pine’s simplest dishes. Boston lettuce arranged with thinly sliced candied apple rings and diced jicama is both pretty and refreshing. The sweet heat of the fruit might taste familiar; the apple picks up some fire from a simple syrup infused with cinnamon candy .
Going against the restaurant trend, the tables at the modestly dressed Mayfair & Pine are covered, paper atop cloth. “I like linens,” says Sprissler, who notes that she had children in mind when she added the extra layer of protection: “They can draw and spill.”