After years of delay, Plumpjack vet Adam Jed's hotly anticipated pet project Bluestem Brasserie finally opened on Yerba Buena Lane in late June. While Jed and his wife Stacy originally wanted to open a steakhouse, the economy's ragged condition and the rise of nose-to-tail butchery morphed the concept into a seemingly more approachable "California brasserie." Now with former Left Bank chef Sean Canavan churning out plenty of house cured meats in the kitchen and Olle Lundberg's swank decor working aesthetic magic in the dining room, Bluestem is currently humming through its seventh week in business. As we await word from the critics, let's take a second to cull through the Early Word on the internet, to date.
The Menu News: Grubstreet's Jay Barmann says "Chef Sean Canavan does wonders with a humble pork chop, ladies and gentlemen, not to mention beef carpaccio." While 7x7's Sara Deseran says, "The food—which has a focus on steak—is solid." [Grubstreet, 7x7]
The Dessert News: Chowhound's Wineguy7 says, "[I] tasted five different desserts on [my] visits. I thought all the desserts were wonderful and may, in fact, be the strength of the restaurant." 7x7's Sara Deseran concurs, "I'm afraid all was overshadowed as the dessert menu arrived." And on the Honolulu Hangover dessert, "It's a ridiculously decadent cake on the brink of being obscene, but done with enough taste to be balanced and so moist it's totally soaked in flavor. I loved every bite of it. It was such a pleasure that I felt no guilt." [Chowhound, 7x7]
The Bauer News: Bluestem is twice loved by Bauer so far in his weekly dish roundups. He calls out pastry chef James Ormsby's cherry sundae and his watermelon granita. [ISSF]
The Ordering via Blackberry News: We'll let Bauer explain: "Instead of a pad and paper or a very good memory, the server hovers over you and punches in your order [to a hand-held computer]. It feels like he’s texting. The staff may get better with practice, but for now the process is painfully slow and awkward. Their eyes were so locked onto the screen they didn’t notice if diners needed anything...it builds an impersonal dynamic between the customer and the waiter... the last thing I want when I visit a restaurant." Commenter SteveWW retorts, "Like it or not, technology is here, especially in the Bay Area. Technology like this in restaurants helps to keep costs down and service up. This restaurant is new from the ground up. Give them a chance to get their procedures down. I had lunch there recently and thought it was awesome. Food and service!" Zagat Buzz adds, "It...makes it seem like we’re one frighteningly small step away from simply texting our orders to waiters." [ISSF, Zagat Buzz]
The Interior News: SFoodie calls it "swank," and Daily Candy finds it to be a "slick-but-welcoming space." Signore Lucchesi calls it "One of the most unique [interiors] in San Francisco," with a "Sweeping staircase [and] lots of textures throughout, the room’s feel is somewhat reminiscent of places like Prospect and 25 Lusk." [SFoodie, Daily Candy, ISSF]
The Stiff Cocktail News: SFoodie calls the Jane Deer drink "strong enough for a man but made for a woman... more fragrant and fruity than the pits... so strong to our taste that it nearly knocked us off our banquette." But Neel L. of Yelp was less positive: "The drinks had a long way to go, with the balance so off in a few recipes that a drunken monkey may have better concocted something worth imbibing." [SFoodie, Yelp]
The "Willy's Word" News: Good ol' ex-mayor Willy Brown chimes, "It's a winner. The food is great, and so is the view over Market Street. The tab will probably run about $75 a person, including wine, which isn't bad for that part of town. I just hope people can find parking." [Chron]
The Best Seat News: Let's hear what Lucchesi has to say: "There are a few Willie Brown power booths on the ground level, and you can’t go wrong with the second-floor patio seats on a nice day. That said, in many ways, the 15-seat bar feels like the anchor of the room. Perhaps this isn’t so much a question of which are the best seats so much as it is which nook in a see-and-be-seen restaurant like this will become the proverbial Siberia." Sean Timberlake of Team Hedonia tells Bay Area Bites, "I've recently become enamored with the new Bluestem Brasserie downtown. Their upstairs balcony is a great spot to watch the world go by." [ISSF, Bay Area Bites]
Have your own early thoughts and musings on Bluestem? Please do let us know here or in the comments section below.
· All Previous Bluestem Coverage [~ESF~]