199 Gough Street,
Phone: (415) 355-9085
This cozy corner spot in the Hayes Valley part of town looks more like your local neighborhood bistro than a destination restaurant, but as we all know, looks can be deceiving. In fact, Rich Table was nominated for a James Beard Award for best new restaurant. While the setting, with its open kitchen, long communal tables, and buzzy bar, may seem laidback, the food is innovative and pedigreed.
Owners and husband-and-wife team, Evan and Sarah Rich, have worked at Bouley, Coi and several other praised eateries. While the cooking here is much more casual, it’s still exciting. Just sample the Sardine Chips, listed under “Bites,” a homemade potato chip skewered with a perfectly fried sardine, served with a spunky horseradish cream. Don’t see snacks like that these days. Or how about a Dried Porcini Doughnut, a warm puff of fried dough, sprinkled with dried porcini powder, and served with melted raclette fondue for dipping. I wish all snack food tasted this good.
While most pastas register heavy and often end in regret (albeit deliciously so), Rich Table serves one that is practically the embodiment of spring. Just imagine a tangle of Spaghetti, mingled with fresh green peas, pea shoots and tendrils, as well as mint, served over warm, melted goat cheese and topped with smashed peas — an unusually light, vegetal pasta dish that’s entirely satisfying without weighing you down. Sarah and Evan have a knack for teasing out the flavor of just about everything, like a New York Steak served with a pungent mustard greens salsa verde and green plums that offsets some of the richness, and Butter Poached Rabbit, smartly paired with green garlic to tease the sweetness from the meat. As for dessert, they’re the work of Sarah Rich, who turns out satisfying, straightforward desserts, like Olive Oil Cake with Strawberries, Stone Fruit Upside Down Cake with Sweet Cream and Sorrel and an admirable Bittersweet Chocolate Pot De Creme with cherries and coconut crumble.