Hot spot Little Gem is now open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and pay-for-play critic Michael Bauer ate all the meals. The Hayes Valley counter-service spot has a menu that’s gluten-, dairy- and refined sugar-free from owner Eric Lilavois (former COO at the Thomas Keller Group) and chef Dave Cruz (Ad Hoc). Bauer argued that Little Gem touches on much of what is trendy in SF right now, but it’s ultimately the food that will help it succeed. He wrote:
In the past decade, dining rooms have become more casual, service more relaxed. Ingredients at even lower-priced restaurants are increasingly locally sourced and sustainable, and diet restrictions have come to the forefront. Talented chefs who would only be cooking in white-tablecloth establishments in the 1990s are now willing to bring their food to a wider audience … While Little Gem isn’t going to replace the more formal restaurants that continue to proliferate, it offers a fresh way to deal with increasing labor costs and serve a sophisticated population that is eating out in record numbers. In the end, the food is the linchpin to success, and that’s what will make Little Gem a sure-fire hit.
Bauer’s favorite dishes were the “pristine” morning salad, “precise” heirloom beans with kale, “brightly flavored” pulled pork, “particularly good” chicken soup and “intense” pot de creme; he recommended skipping the “rubbery” simple scramble at breakfast. 2 ½ stars.
The Elsewhere: Bauer also returned to The Dock, where he wasn’t as impressed as he used to be with the food, which received 2 ½ stars, Anna Roth ate “wonderful” sandwiches at Roxie Food Center, Peter Kane was disappointed by the vegan burgers at VeganBurg and East Bay Express' Luke Tsai liked Shiba Ramen, despite some hiccups.