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Garden-Fresh Fare and Bocce Await at Mission Bay's New Stem

Bay views and booze in an underserved restaurant 'hood.

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Mission Bay is a full-on restaurant desert, despite the presence of plenty of new offices and housing, and the looming arrival of a new Golden State Warriors stadium. That won't always be the case, thanks to projects like Anchor's new brewery and taproom and the Jelly's remodel, but for now, Stem, which debuted over the weekend, stands alone in terms of sit-down dining. The project at 499 Illinois (near the intersection of 3rd and 16th Streets) is housed in a science and technology-related office complex, with food from Bon Appetit Management Co., the brains behind AT&T Park's edible garden, Traci des Jardins' duo of Presidio restaurants, Loretta Keller's Seaglass at the Exploratorium, and other sustainability-minded corporate projects.

Brent Johnson (La Cocina, Zuppa) is leading the kitchen, offering a menu of Cal-Med comfort fare like grilled broccoli with farro, Moroccan chicken salad, seasonal pizzas, and grilled tri-tip with rosemary and garlic confit. Here's the full menu. The restaurant has its own garden, where it grows much of its produce, in raised beds overlooking the bay. And those seeking to escape the office will definitely enjoy the waterside bocce court (which is first come, first served).

Stem is currently open only on weekdays, from 7 am-7 pm; the day kicks off with a small breakfast selection (think housemade croissants, frittatas, and housemade yogurt) until 11 am, then shifts to a full menu at lunch and a post-3 pm happy hour with fare like chicken confit croquettes, cheese and charcuterie boards, and more pizza. The restaurant also serves beer and wine on tap, which will make it a nice quiet spot to fuel up before a weekday Giants game.

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