4 April, 2020
A Brunch at Son and Garden and Peek at the Secret BarPosted in : Dining in San Francisco - CA on by : The Gourmez
Son and Garden
Tenderloin, San Francisco
A couple of weeks before the Bay Area went under shelter-in-place orders, Son and Garden softly opened serving brunch, lunch, dinner, and high tea. Obligatory disclaimer: This brunch was free to me, courtesy of the restaurant. And I should note that this is written during the Great Quarantine of 2020—the restaurant may very well be open if you are reading this in later months.
I was delighted to dine in this festive space evocative of a garden party, and I look forward to doing so again when it’s safe. The décor is a range of floral patterns in bold pastels (is that an oxymoron?), from the ceiling bouquet down to the central marble tables that belong on a grand patio in some mansion in the hills somewhere.
Why was I so delighted to dine there? As I explained to co-owner Arty Larpnampha, I love the celebratory feel at Farmhouse Kitchen Thai in Oakland (my review), one of his and chef/owner Kasem “Pop” Saengsawang’s other establishments. Song and Garden carries forth that ambience through its décor, plating, and most of all, the welcoming spirit of its employees.
The brand-new restaurant was packed on this particular Saturday brunch, all the way into the late afternoon. One group was celebrating a friend’s birthday together, and the wait staff did more than sing a simple song. They sang it with gusto, for several rounds, accompanied by an explosion of percussion. What fun it’ll be to celebrate such occasions with friends again in a place like this, once we all can!
I had to try the Cloud 9 on the “Liquid Brunch” cocktail menu, because cotton candy was the first ingredient listed for it. I lost my battle with curiosity the moment I read those two words. And my curiosity did not let me down.
That’s not whimsy, folks. It’s art. What a beautiful way to start a day off right! You can choose to eat the cotton candy as is, or shove it on down into the cup, taking the cocktail from a spring yellow to a neon turquoise—the cocktail is mixed to be delicious with or without the cotton candy addition, and the butterflies are edible, too. Though if I were you, I’d just let the butterflies float around—edible paper is not that tasty.
I found the Cloud 9 wonderfully balanced with minerality from the Dolin and Lillet Blanc aperitifs and the sparkling wine. A gentle citrus came in from pineapple and lemon juices.
Of course, coffee was also required. It’s brunch! Double fisting is a given.
Even with a simple coffee service, Son and Garden puts forth extra touches. Look at the beauty of that cream ramekin! It’s perfect for the high teas that Son and Garden will be hosting every weekday in the Secret Bar, once they are back in full-service mode.
The Secret Bar is not that secret, but it isn’t advertised from the street, so I’ll give them a pass. It’s located just across a residential lobby from the restaurant proper. I loved the blue chandeliers inside and those pink chairs.
As Arty explained, serving brunch is a return to his roots for Chef Kasem, who invented the concept of Millionaire’s Bacon during his time at Kitchen Story in the Castro. Chef Kasem offers a new spin on bacon debauchery for Son and Garden, called Bear Belly Bacon.
It’s featured under the eggs of that Bear Belly Benedict pictured above, which is one of five benedicts on their menu. The bear bacon is not bear, of course, but a very thick cut of pork bacon that manages to get crisped all the way through, despite that thickness. It’s sweet-enhanced, but not sweet-overwhelmed, as the meaty pork flavor is the star.
The benedict’s hollandaise had a good flavor to it, and I was thrilled that the home fries came served over a layer of hot sauce. That saved me an essential step during brunching: No need to drizzle hot sauce everywhere if it’s already there! A revelation.
We also dug into the deep-fried french toast.
What a sight! I did not expect a cannonball of mascarpone and pastry cream, but that’s what I delightedly received. The bread’s flavor and texture were similar to brioche. It’s fried tempura-style. The batter coating is slightly sweet and called to mind Frosted Flakes, which I enjoyed more here than I ever did in a bowl. Make sure to combine the fruit and compote with bites of the french toast’s inner jewels.
The combination of mascarpone and vanilla pastry cream was so well-whipped, I nearly thought it whipped cream. The mascarpone’s tang answered with a strong “Present!” during roll call. All in all, an enjoyable take on french toast.
Of course, Son and Garden is not currently open for full-service, but you can order brunch, lunch, or dinner for pickup or delivery via Square. Chef Kasem is now also offering a “Good Morning, San Francisco” Brunch Set for two people that comes with a selection of eggs, meats, coffees, juices, and ricotta or matcha pancakes or that french toast. You can even add on bubbly to combine with your OJ for mimosas, a sparkling idea!
Once quarantine is lifted, high tea will be back on the menu as well. Making a reservation for it is something wonderful I can look forward to in the meantime.
Thanks to Arty and Chef Kasem for having me!
Dined in 14 March 2020.