I first met Jenna Brooks in the newsroom at CSN. She had recently moved to San Francisco from Australia, where she also worked as a television sports reporter. One of my co-workers asked if I had time to speak with her for a few minutes, and even though I was super busy, I agreed to chat with her.
I'd say about 30 seconds into the conversation, I instantly felt a connection with Jenna, and I knew we were going to be fast friends. We again met for lunch about a week later, and have been friends ever since, meeting whenever our schedules allow to catch up and enjoy some of the great restaurants the city has to offer.
Park Tavern is the sister restaurant to one of my other favorite spots, Marlowe. They serve several of the same dishes, as well as some new ones. Jenna and I limited ourselves to just one glass of wine each on our visit, but the cocktail list was speaking my language and I loved how the "Parks and Recreation" portion of the list were all named after different parks in the city. The "Washington Square" was particularly tempting with manderin vodka, aperol, ginger liquor and grapefruit bitters. In fact, I will likely order that when I make a return visit this weekend.
I had already planned to order a couple of deviled eggs, but we were delighted when they brought us out two of them free of charge! Being from Australia, this was Jenna's first experience with deviled eggs, and it probably spoiled them for her forever because these were honestly the best deviled eggs I've ever had. Her standards for these American appetizers will forever be held to the creamy ones at Park Tavern with bacon, pickled jalapeno and chives.
Those came from the "smoked" section of the menu, so we also selected something from the "raw" section for our second starter. We got the salmon with creme fraiche, sake roe, and fingerling potato chips. As Jenna eloquently said in her beautiful Aussie accent, "Those were beautiful, weren't they?" And I believe she meant it in both the presentation and the taste!
From the appetizer section, we chose the "Demons on Horseback," which included four large prawns, wrapped in lardo and served with a scallion remoulade and celery leaf, and perched atop of artfully placed cucumber slices. You know me, slap bacon on pretty much anything and I'm in. And as I gushed in my post about Marlowe, these brussels sprout chips might be my most favorite restaurant side ever invented. Crispy, salty, lemony bliss.
Since we were sharing everything, we ordered just one main dish from the entree section. This is the "Petite Poulet Rouge," which is a small chicken roasted upright in a cast iron skillet and served above a bed of greens and potatoes. Our server asked us if we wanted them to split in half for us, and I of course declined since I knew it was to be served this way (and better for photographing...obvi). As it arrived at the table, we felt like it was greeting us with a warm hello. We almost felt bad for a minute until we proceeded to tear the thing apart.
We were positively too stuffed for dessert, but I love that their signature sweet treat is a gigantic slice of "birthday cake," complete with a candle for every order. Park Tavern is cozy, casual and upscale all at the same time, and it was a perfect place to catch up with Jenna. I can't wait for our next culinary adventure and I'm excited to make my first return visit of many at Park Tavern!
UPDATE (7.22.12): I went back on my first of many return visits. I should've taken photos and now I'm kind of sad I didn't. Regardless, my group of seven and I ordered a variety of things, including the standby brussels sprout chips and deviled eggs. They were out of the demons on horseback, so we sampled the truffle fries, which were decadent and rich. I loved the slow cooked egg they serve as a "dip" of sorts. I wanted to sample some new things as well, so the three girls and I shared a few things.
The kampachi from the raw section eclipsed my love for the salmon pictured above. The seared tuna was on the smaller side but lovely, and the pork chop with grilled peaches might be my new favorite main dish there. The boys got the filet and stopped short of licking their plates clean. And dessert? Oh. My. God. Three words: Fernet Ice Cream Float. OK, that was four words. So good. Even if you don't like Fernet. We also got the birthday cake and the chocolate creme brulee. Everything was fabulous. This place has definitely shot to the top of my list for favorite "go-to" restaurants in the city.