Occasionally a restaurant springs into being fully formed, like Momotar, the boy in Japanese folklore found floating downstream in a peach. Rich Table, which opened in late July 2012 in Hayes Valley under the leadership of husband-and-wife team Evan and Sarah Rich, is such a restaurant. Its playful take on California comfort food was enough reason for the early buzz: Items like house-made sardine potato chips, yeasty doughnuts dusted with mushroom powder, and "dirty hippies" (a shot of buttermilk panna cotta layered with wheatgrass puree and topped with seeds and sprouts) show the delicate balance between innovative fine dining and casual cuisine. But more importantly, from the outset, it was a restaurant with an ineffable sense of atmosphere. Rich Table is one of those rare restaurants where everything — food, service, décor, drinks — comes together in just the right way. Despite the fact that it's been on the top of everyone's list for more than a year, it still feels neighborhood-y and welcoming. Reservations can be hard to come by, but we love showing up early, taking a seat at the bar, and sipping a cocktail from bartender Buffalo Lograsso as we see what the culinary team has dreamed up that day.