Though new SF Chronicle critic Soleil Ho has vowed not to award stars to restaurants, she’s found one anyway at Verjus, the wine bar from Quince’s Michael and Lindsay Tusk.
The Jackson Square restaurant left a big impression on the critic, who likened it to a “Shiny red Cadillac fresh off the factory floor, with a pedigree that’s just as lustrous.” In comparison to San Francisco’s other wine bars, says Ho, “Verjus comes off like Celine Dion making a surprise appearance at a community talent show.”
Transportation analogies continue: “Verjus has all of the easy sophistication of a Vespa scooter zipping through a European metropolis. And, after a bit of a sputter at first, it’s got an engine that really purrs...” That sputter was the restaurant ironing out its service model, ultimately resulting in a service model that Ho says “makes this concept feel more like a thoroughly considered localization than a literal translation,” with full table service in both the dining room and wine room, and mix-n-match menus.
The pate en croute got special love from the critic, who likened to a section of pink cobblestone path, and continued to say “It honestly looks like food from the future spat out by a replicator in the most efficient form possible. Yet to smash pieces of it onto bread (your meal comes with replenishable baguette slices) and watch the proteins and fats collapse into a beautiful mess is such a pleasure. The clean flavor will make you wish you were eating this in the sunshine, on a hillside full of flowers. You’d do well to settle that feeling with another sip of wine.”
The wines, too, pleased Ho, as did their keepers. “Whenever I asked a pairing question, the servers were game, and their answers often felt like a secret that they were telling only me,” she wrote, declaring the restaurant a “perfect first lesson” in natural wines and their food pairings.
Ultimately, Ho finds it to be a sleek harbinger of New York vibes, creating the kind of enclave that attracts chic diners like moths to a low-lit flame.
“Yet in other ways, Verjus carries so much of the cosmopolitan aesthetic that defined New York City at the turn of this last century. Its sleekness and maturity recall similarly chic restaurants in SoHo, where I’d peek through the windows to see models nibbling on steak frites and holding court around Champagne buckets. When I was a kid, it all felt so adult, sophisticated and out of reach. Now, SoHo is getting a T.J. Maxx and Jackson Square has Verjus.”
This city doesn’t need stars to know a rave when it sees one — and, this is one. If we had to guess the number of stars that would have been awarded: 3.5 stars.
- Verjus Is a New San Francisco Star [SF Chronicle]