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Friday, May 15, 2009

Bruno's Pop-Up Restaurant: Ex-Slow Club Chef Makes You Forget About the Stripper Poles

Posted By on Fri, May 15, 2009 at 11:17 AM

click to enlarge The wedge salad: A fresh take
  • The wedge salad: A fresh take
Stripper poles and Slow Food formed a strange mashup last night at Bruno's, night two for the city's hottest pop-up restaurant. Chez Panisse front-of-house guy Sam White, ex-Slow Club chef Chris Kronner, and their collaborators in OPENrestaurant once again transformed the upstairs Pussycat Lounge at Bruno's into a seething den of locavore deliciousness.

You know the Pussycat: Tiger-stripe wall-to-wall, Vegas-y Lucite chandeliers, and those dual stripper poles. But it was cucina, not cootchie, that drew a packed house of gastro thrill-seekers to Bruno's last night. And judging by the dishes SFoodie tasted, everybody left with something like the, um, glow that follows a happy ending.

The dozen-item menu paid homage to the ingredient-idolizing style of classic Cali cooking, with a purveyor list that read like the vendor roster at the Ferry Plaza market: Full Belly, Knoll, Cowgirl, Hog Island. But Kronner's skill in the kitchen made for dishes that were anything but cliché.

click to enlarge Fish Stew Royale: Royally tasty
  • Fish Stew Royale: Royally tasty
Drizzled with blue cheese dressing, a wedge salad ($9) of Little Gem lettuces, bacon bits, radishes, and shaved carrots gave the steakhouse standby new life. A burger and fries ($15) were among the best SFoodie's tasted. The Prather beef patty had a deftly blackened exterior, snarly contrast to the rich, pink center. And the twice-fried spuds were models of crispy.

And while a pork terrine ($13) turned out to be a loose mosaic of not-quite-tender-enough meaty bits, the seafood stew (called Fish Stew Royale, $25) was brilliant -- a hunk of sweet-tasting mackerel, even sweeter spot prawns, and long-cooked Monterey Bay squid, in a dark broth that managed to be both balls-out and delicate. We gotta say: It was sexy enough all on its own to blot out any thought of stripper-pole debauchery.

Bruno's 2389 Mission near 2oth St., 643-5200. For Thursday night pop-up rezzies, send an email here.

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