KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: Does Spruce Make the Bay Area's Best Burger?
Bay Area Bites: culinary rants & raves from bay area foodies and professionals
Previous Posts
Coffee is Culinary (so says Starbucks)
September 2007 Eat Local Challenge
Opening A Restaurant in San Francisco. {Part One}
Everyone loves donuts!
Brini Maxwell: Drag Queen of Domesticity
We Love Jam!
Cook by the Book: Santa Monica Farmers' Market Coo...
Links Around the Bay
Chocolate Adventure Recipe Contest Ideas
Ze'ev Vered's Garden
 
 
BAB Guidelines

'Bay Area Bites' is part of KQED's Blog Authors Collaborative. Blog contributors and commentators are solely responsible for their content. If you're interested in writing or contributing to a blog on kqed.org, email us with your idea.
 
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Does Spruce Make the Bay Area's Best Burger?


A provocative question, especially for a food-loving town in a beef-righteous nation. It's a question that I can't even answer, really, not having sampled every burger in the Bay Area, or even the smaller list of San Francisco cult favorites.

But one thing I can tell you is that the burger at the newly opened Spruce is absolutely, unequivocally, utterly delicious.


photo by Jen Maiser

I met a friend there on a recent Monday night about two weeks after it opened. (Was this the most highly anticipated restaurant opening in recent memory or what?) We snagged two seats at the bar and settled in for drinks, I with my bourbon stone sour ($8) and Jen with her Clover Club ($8), a sweet-tart blend of gin, lemon juice, and Hangar One Aqua Perfecta framboise eau de vie. (The former: eh; the latter: double-yum.)

Even though we were splitting a burger at the bar, our meal started with an amuse bouche, a small gift of the world's best beet chips, vivid vermilion and perfectly salted, with a side of horseradish cream. They hit the spot.



We were in a nibbly mood so we shared two orders ($7 each) of housemade charcuterie -- which is surely now the most oft-typed phrase in my restaurant write-up vocabulary -- and enjoyed noshing our way through coins of soft smoked chorizo and glossy slivers of spicy coppa. I devoured the onion relish compulsively, and liked the sprinkling of smoked pimenton. We drank, we talked, we admired the view (chocolate mohair walls, soaring steel trusses, a glittering skylight) and took in the crowd, mostly couples and friends hungrily eyeing their food rather than one another.



When the burger ($12) arrived, it was draped, on request, with a melted slice of cheddar but otherwise unadorned, save for a small garden of lettuce, tomatoes, pickled red onions, and thin sheets of dill pickle on the side. Many regulars of the Village Pub, also owned by the trio behind Spruce, liken the "bun" to an English muffin, and that seems as apt a description as any for the thin, textured, somewhat porous bread. My only complaint is that they really overdid it brushing the bun with butter. Other than that, the burger was perfect -- hefty enough to feel good in the hand, satisfying, well-seasoned (an area where the kitchen clearly excels), juicy, and flavorful. Every bite was delightful and I would have eaten every last pickle if my mother hadn't taught me to share.




The fries that came with it were served in a silver cup, and assuming they are the same ones that accompany the bavette steak on the dinner menu, fried in duck fat. Holy Deliciousness, Batman! Crisp, just the right side of greasy, and perfectly salted; odd, however, that we had to ask for ketchup (and mustard). Is it really so rare to want these condiments when ordering a burger and fries? They should just slap them on the side and be done with it.

The service throughout the meal was spot on, though the lamp on the corner of the bar made it hard for our bartender to tell when Jen's drink had run dry. We passed on dessert, even though they were created by Bay Area wunderkind William Werner, formerly of the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay; a girl has to save a little something for the next time.

I perused the dinner menu while I was there and, despite being written by a devoted minimalist, a few things on it popped out at me -- watermelon and arugula with cured sardines, for instance, and crudo with vegetables escabeche (did I call this new trend or did I call this new trend?).

I'm looking forward to my next visit.

Spruce
3640 Sacramento Street
(415) 931-5100
San Francisco
Open 7 days a week for dinner, M-F for lunch

Labels: , , , , ,

 
 

7 Comments:

Blogger wendygee said...

I can't wait to sink my teeth into one of those juicy burgers! Looks like a cool new spot...I will remember to tell them to hold the butter on the bun ;-)

8/30/2007 9:39 AM

 
Blogger Jennifer Maiser said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8/30/2007 1:20 PM

 
Blogger Casey said...

This all sounds terrific. I've had some wonderful food at Village Pub, but the service has been wildly uneven. A very bad experience not too long ago (wine never came, although first course did. we were told that only the sommelier could open the wine and he had had to take a personal call. we insisted on speaking to the manager, who strode to the table and said "Just what seems to be your problem?") glsd to hear from early reports that service at Spruce is good.

8/30/2007 3:42 PM

 
Anonymous Tana said...

It looks REALLY delicious. Do we know where the meat is from?

8/30/2007 4:39 PM

 
Blogger Catherine Nash said...

Good question Tana. I *think* it's Niman Ranch but I can't recall for sure. They also have a partnership with SMIP Ranch, which supplies a huge amount of their produce, and I'm not clear if they raise any cattle -- but I think not.

8/30/2007 5:32 PM

 
Blogger Jennifer Maiser said...

Sheesh - I thought I commented on this earlier. This was a g-reat burger. Loved it. The service was seamless considering they'd been open for less than 2 weeks. Fab cocktails, comfortable bar, not a scene (please don't let it become a scene). The beet chips were to die for. I'm looking forward to going back.

8/30/2007 11:48 PM

 
Blogger Tea said...

Man, you've got me craving a burger now!

BTW, I just saw your profile photo for the first time--super cute!

9/02/2007 3:18 PM

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Locate CP Restaurants:
Check, Please! Google Map
 
KQED Food Sites
Check, Please! Bay Area
Jacques Pépin Celebrates!
Jacques Pépin:
Fast Food My Way
Jacques Pépin:
The Apprentice
Jacques Pépin:
The Complete Pépin
KQED Wine Club
KQED.org Cooking
Weir Cooking in the City
 
Tasty Food Sites
CHOW
Chowhound SF
Crushpad
CUESA
CulinaryCorps
Eat Local Challenge
Edible San Francisco
Epicurious
eGullet.org
Food Network
Food Talk
Group Recipes
Hungry Magazine
KTEH Food
Leite's Culinaria
Locavores
Mighty Foods
NPR: Food
Om Organics
Serious Eats
SFGate: Food
SFGate: Wine
SF Station: Restaurants
Slow Food SF
Top Chef
Wikimedia Commons: Food & Drink
Yahoo! Food
Yelp: Reviews
 
Tangy Food Blogs
101 Cookbooks
A Full Belly
Accidental Hedonist
agoodfoodblog
An Obsession with Food
Anna's Cool Finds
Becks & Posh
Between Meals
Blogsoop
Bunny Foot
Butter Pig
Cellar Rat
Chez Pim
Chocolate & Zucchini
Confessions of a
Restaurant Whore
Cooking For Engineers
Cooking with Amy
Cucina Testa Rossa
Culinary Muse
Denise's Kitchen
Digesty-SF
Eater SF
Eggbeater
Extramsg.com
Feed & Supply
Food Blog S'cool
Food Musings
Food Porn Watch
Gastronomie
Hedonia
I'm Mad and I Eat
In Praise of Sardines
Jatbar
Knife's Edge
Life Begins at 30
Love and Cooking
MeatHenge
Mental Masala
Moveable Feast
Nosheteria
Organic Day
Passionate Eater
San Francisco Gourmet
SF City Eats
Simply Recipes
Spicetart
The Amateur Gourmet
Tablehopper
The Ethicurean
The Food Section
The Grub Report
The Petite Pig
The Wine Makers Wife
Vin Divine
Vinography
VirgoBlue
Wandering Spoon
Well Fed Network
Word Eater
World on a Plate
Yummy Chow
 
 
   
Search BAB

Eye Candy: Food Photos
BAB on flickr.com
Join Flickr for free and share your photos with the Bay Area Bites and Beyond group pool.
 
Food Books
 
The Moosewood Cookbook
by Mollie Katzen
 
Baking: From My Home to Yours
by Dorie Greenspan
 
Grand Livre de Cuisine: Alain Ducasse's Desserts and Pastries
by Alain Ducasse, Frederic Robertmison
 
The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking and Entertaining
by Cheryl Alters Jamison, Bill Jamison
 
Tasty: Get Great Food on the Table Every Day
by Roy Finamore
 
Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way
by Lorna Sass
 
The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa
by Marcus Samuelsson
 
Michael Mina: The Cookbook
by Michael Mina, Photographer: Karl Petzktle
 
What to Eat
by Marion Nestle
 
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
by Michael Pollan
 
Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate
by John Scharffenberger, Robert Steinberg
 
Romancing the Vine: Life, Love, and Transformation in the Vineyards of Barolo
by Alan Tardi
 
What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea -- Even Water -- Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliers
by Andrew Dornenburg, Karen Page, Michael Sofronski
 
The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners
by Matt Lee, Ted Lee
 
Bread Matters: The State of Modern Bread and a Definitive Guide to Baking Your Own
by Andrew Whitley
 
Coloring the Seasons: A Cook's Guide
by Allegra McEvedy
 
All-new Complete Cooking Light Cookbook
by Anne C. Cain
 
Modern Garde Manger
by Robert B. Garlough
 
The Spice and Herb Bible
by Ian Hemphill, Kate Hemphill
 
The Improvisational Cook
by Sally Schneider
 
Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children
by Ann Cooper, Lisa M. Holmes
 
Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia
by James Oseland
 
My Life in France
by Julia Child, Alex Prud'Homme
 
A Passion for Ice Cream: 95 Recipes for Fabulous Desserts
by Emily Luchett, Sheri Giblin (photographer)
 
Au Pied De Cochon -- The Album
by Martin Picard
 
Memories of Philippine Kitchens
by Amy Besa, Romy Dorotan
 
Simple Chinese Cooking
by Kylie Kwong
 
 
An Invitation to Indian Cooking
by Madhur Jaffrey
 
Hungry Planet
by Peter Menzel, Faith D'Aluisio
 
Sunday Suppers at Lucques : Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table
by Suzanne Goin, Teri Gelber
 
Simple Soirees: Seasonal Menus for Sensational Dinner Parties
by Peggy Knickerbocker, Christopher Hirsheimer (Photographer)
 
The Cook's Book
by Jill Norman
 
Molto Italiano : 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home
by Mario Batali
 
Nobu Now
by Nobuyuki Matsuhisa
 
Cheese : A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best
by Max Mccalman, David Gibbons
 
Bones : Recipes, History, and Lore
by Jennifer McLagan
 
Whiskey : The Definitive World Guide
by Michael Jackson
 
The New American Cooking
by Joan Nathan
 
ChocolateChocolate
by Lisa Yockelson
 
Easy Entertaining: Everything You Need to Know About Having Parties at Home
by Darina Allen
 
Cooking at De Gustibus: Celebrating 25 Years of Culinary Innovation
by Arlene Feltman Sailhac
 
Dough: Simple Contemporary Breads
by Richard Bertinet
 
Chocolate Obsession: Confections and Treats to Create and Savor
by Michael Recchiuti, Fran Gage, Maren Caruso
 
The Food Substitutions Bible: More Than 5,000 Substitutions for Ingredients, Equipment And Techniques
by David Joachim
 
Recipes: A Collection for the Modern Cook
by Susan Spungen
 
Spices of Life: Simple and Delicious Recipes for Great Health
by Nina Simonds
 
Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent
by Jeffrey Alford, Naomi Duguid
 
Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light
by Mort Rosenblum
 
Vegetable Love: A Book for Cooks
by Barbara Kafka, Christopher Styler
 
A History of Wine in America: From Prohibition to the Present
by Thomas Pinney
 
Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years Of Food And Art
by Tom Gilliland, Miguel Ravago, Virginia B. Wood
 
Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South
by Marcie Cohen Ferris
 
Washoku: Recipes From The Japanese Home Kitchen
by Elizabeth Andoh, Leigh Beisch
 
 
Weir Cooking in the City: More than 125 Recipes and Inspiring Ideas for Relaxed Entertaining
by Joanne Weir
 
Rick Stein's Complete Seafood
by Rick Stein
 
The Great Scandinavian Baking Book
by Beatrice A. Ojakangas
 
Serena, Food & Stories: Feeding Friends Every Hour of the Day
by Serena Bass
 
John Ash: Cooking One on One: Private Lessons in Simple, Contemporary Food from a Master Teacher
by John Ash
 
The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook: Eating Well for Better Health
by Donald Hensrud, M.D., Jennifer Nelson, R.D. & Mayo Clinic Staff
 
Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions
by Fernando and Marlene Divina
 
The Provence Cookbook
by Patricia Wells
 
Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World
by Gil Marks
 
Last Chance to Eat: The Fate of Taste in a Fast Food World
by Gina Mallet
 
Bouchon
by Thomas Keller
 
A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking Around the World
by Maggie Glezer
 
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
by Molly Stevens
 
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
by Harold McGee
 
Entertaining: Inspired Menus For Cooking with Family and Friends
by George Dolese
 
The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore
by Grace Young, Alan Richardson
 
Cooking New American: How to Cook the Food You Love to Eat
by Fine Cooking Magazine
 
The Japanese Kitchen: A Book of Essential Ingredients with 200 Authentic Recipes
by Kimiko Barber
 
Arthur Schwartz's New York City Food: An Opinionated History and More Than 100 Legendary Recipes
by Arthur Schwartz
 
Poet of the Appetites: The Lives and Loves of M.F.K. Fisher
by Joan Reardon
 
Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes
by Jeffrey Hamelman
 
Everyday Dining with Wine
by Andrea Immer
 
 
Copyright © 2005-2008 KQED. All rights reserved.