Last spring, owner Frank Klein scrapped the locavore concept he'd forged for Fish & Farm, the TenderSquare eatery tucked into the Mark Twain Hotel (339 Taylor at O'Farrell). With chef Charlie Kleinman off to get smoky at Wexler's, Klein gave the nod to Chad Newton, who got his first glimpse of restaurant glory at defunct Postrio. Newton helped reinvent Fish & Farm with lush tastes of New American comfort foods. SF Weekly critic Matthew Stafford finds them appropriately soothing in these dark days of holiday cheer, especially Newton's befores and afters. Wallow in Stafford's findings later today at SFWeekly.com. For now, you'll have to comfort yourself with SFoodie's juicy one-bite excerpt (after the jump).
A fine way to kick off a late-autumn meal is with cauliflower soup, a rich and satiny bowl of cream, chives, a shimmer of golden olive oil, and a sweet, barely pungent suggestion of the title vegetable, nicely accented with toasted almonds and a pickled red grape. The equally hearty potato gnocchi appetizer complements the delicate little dumplings with tender, juicy shreds of wine-braised beef, sweet and earthy cipollini, a healthy dusting of parmigiano, and a spiky, tastebud-awakening hint of fresh horseradish. Or opt for the house meatballs, three generous (yet surprisingly feathery) orbs of coarsely ground beef touched with just enough currants and almonds to deliver a hint of sweetness and crunch. They're served with a lush, peppery romesco sauce and an apple-cabbage slaw with plenty of tang and bite.