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Friday, May 2, 2014

There's a New Executive Chef at Sparrow Bar & Kitchen

Posted By on Fri, May 2, 2014 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge LIV COMBE
  • Liv Combe

Although the all-too-short heat wave is already on its way out, stopping by Sparrow Bar & Kitchen in the Upper Haight for brunch on its back patio still sounds like a pretty enticing way to spend a Sunday morning.

"That's what we all want to do, isn't it?" says Rachel Stobel. "Drink beer, eat a sandwich, and sit out on the patio."

And Stobel knows best. She is, after all, Sparrow's new executive chef.

Formerly of Chamber Eat + Drink at the Phoenix Hotel and Range restaurant, Stobel is joining the team at the fledgling Sparrow less than a year into their time at 1640 Haight Street -- well, less than a year for Sparrow, but almost a decade for husband and wife co-owners Veronica Lopez and Marc Diebold, who have lived in the apartments above the space for nine years and wanted to open a restaurant there for about as long. After previous occupant Bia's Restaurant and Wine Bar closed two years ago, Lopez and Diebold seized the opportunity and opened Sparrow's doors to the public late last July. The heat-lamped, bare-bulb-lit, redwood back patio followed days later.

click to enlarge Rachel Stobel, executive chef at Sparrow Bar & Kitchen. - LIV COMBE
  • Liv Combe
  • Rachel Stobel, executive chef at Sparrow Bar & Kitchen.

click to enlarge LIV COMBE
  • Liv Combe

Sparrow's indoor dining area is by no means less inviting than its outdoor counterpart, however. You can choose to sit on the main floor, or at the bar-style seating on the upstairs mezzanine, which stretches around the perimeter of the restaurant and serves as an excellent vantage point for basing your order on what looks tasty down below. The restaurant's décor is at once masculine and feminine, describes Lopez, whose background is in art. Worn wood and dark metal give the space a modern, upcycled feel, and colorful pillows, succulent plants, and prints on the wall by Oakland artist Adam Feibelman add bright details.

click to enlarge On chilly nights, drink a pint under Sparrow's heat lamps. - LIV COMBE
  • Liv Combe
  • On chilly nights, drink a pint under Sparrow's heat lamps.

click to enlarge LIV COMBE
  • Liv Combe

click to enlarge Fresh herbs like lavender, thyme, sage, and basil grow out back. - LIV COMBE
  • Liv Combe
  • Fresh herbs like lavender, thyme, sage, and basil grow out back.

The menu at Sparrow is classic new American: casual and (mostly) healthy with upscale, interesting twists -- think grass-fed Marin Sun Farm burgers with bacon-jalapeno beer jam, pan-seared Skuna Bay salmon with black rice risotto, and fontina and blackberry-basil smash grilled cheese sandwiches. Order a glass or two off the beer and wine list, many of which come from the Bay Area if not greater California.

"We want to keep the Haight feel of the food alive," says Stobel. "Local, fully sustainable, and very seasonal, including taking into consideration unusual patterns -- like how water shortages affects our beef. We want to stay forward-thinking."

Stop by Sparrow for lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner Tuesday through Saturday, and brunch on the weekends.

click to enlarge LIV COMBE
  • Liv Combe

click to enlarge LIV COMBE
  • Liv Combe
click to enlarge LIV COMBE
  • Liv Combe

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