Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Citizen Cake III: A Work in Progress

Posted By on Wed, Mar 9, 2011 at 2:06 PM

click to enlarge The verrines at Citizen Cake are great. The savory stuff: hit and miss. - KIMBERLY SANDIE
  • Kimberly Sandie
  • The verrines at Citizen Cake are great. The savory stuff: hit and miss.

This week's review is of Citizen Cake ― or rather, Citizen Cake III, daughter of the Hayes Valley restaurant, granddaughter of Elizabeth Falkner's original pastry shop. As much as I've loved Falkner's imagination and skill, I did not respond well to the new place. I never want to be the person who condemns a restaurant based on its design ― I've eaten amazing food under the green-white glow of fluorescent lamps, or at tables I'd rather not touch with my bare hands. But in the case of the CCIII, to talk about the blank-canvas decor seemed fitting: The restaurant doesn't yet feel at ease with itself, or is months away from coming into its own.

The desserts, thankfully, represented Falkner at her best. I loved the verrines, and one of my guests is still talking about the salted caramel chocolate tart he ate. Another intriguing addition, which I had to delete from the review for space, was the sodas.

The sodas seem simple to for the servers to mix up: fizzy water perfumed with barely sweetened gum syrups (as any Bartenders' Guild member will tell you, gum arabic adds satiny viscosity). And the ingredient lists on the menu are both terse and poetic. However, I tried all of them, and all were interesting failures. For one, the servers haven't mastered the carbonation or the concentration of syrups to add, and the drinks range from fizzy and aromatic to pale and filled with langorous, flabby bubbles.

I'm not sure if the syrup concentration was off, but a "wood" soda that was supposed to contain cedar tasted most strongly of burnt coffee grounds, and one friend described the patchouli cola as "ginger ale for smelly hippies." Better was the straightforward "X burning house of love" (hibiscus soda with shadings of orange and chile); and the "looking glass" (peppermint, black pepper, gum mastic), darkly spiced and aromatic, haunted me as the meal progressed from appetizer to entree. Almost savory and compellingly odd, the last two sodas marked a direction I'd love to see Falkner pursue.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.
Follow me at @JonKauffman.

  • Pin It

Tags: , , ,

About The Author

Jonathan Kauffman


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"