Days after chatting with Eater SF about what it’s like to try to kickstart a restaurant during a pandemic, Chef and owner Brandon Rice decided to quietly pop open Ernest, one of the most hotly anticipated new restaurants in San Francisco. Well, at least, he’s doing a preview of sorts, offering limited quantities of a takeout menu as of Saturday, May 9.
It’s exciting news for fans of the chef, who led the Michelin-starred kitchen at Rich Table for a glowing five years. The new Ernest takeout menu will offer a taste of the upcoming restaurant, and the offerings look duck-fat fantastic, from dry-aged rib eye to butter-poached lobster.
“We wanted to stay relevant,” Rice tells Eater SF. “ Even while everyone is still at home, living in their own world, we wanted to give them something to look forward to.” To be clear, the lights aren’t even on yet at Ernest’s actual location, still under construction at Bryant and Mariposa in the Mission. This preview will be available for pickup at 1701 Octavia Street in Pac Heights, and anyone who maps their stars will quickly realize — that’s Octavia, which has been shuttered since the Bay Area’s shelter-in-place order was enacted.
Rice says Octavia’s acclaimed chef, Melissa Perello, has been a mentor through the entire process of opening his first solo restaurant, and offered to share her own kitchen with him as the pandemic delayed Ernest’s debut. But, Rice insists, the Ernest takeout menu is totally separate from Octavia. Aside from their currently shared burners, the two restaurants aren’t affiliated at all.
The teaser menu is in a family-style format, with three courses, feeding two to three people. There’s a wedge salad with green goddess, a dry-aged rib eye, and miso chocolate chip cookies ($150), with options to add on shrimp cocktail ($20), butter-poached lobster ($50), and cheesecake ($55). As so many chefs are playing with at the moment, it comes kitted out, with “a few finishing touches at home, so it feels like a fresh meal.” The steak arrives in a sous vide bag, already fully cooked in duck fat and garlic, ready to sear off. The lobster is vac-packed in butter and tarragon, easy to float in boiling water for a hot minute, and pour over.
It’s all low tech and limited quantities: Only 50 meals. Only Saturday pickups. No promises that the menu won’t change. So email firstname.lastname@example.org by noon on Friday, and get those confit potatoes while they’re hot.