Here’s the sample review I submitted for that food writer job. Might as well put it on the Internet!
Naming your restaurant Locavore seems cynical and calculated, an obvious ploy to lure in the farm-to-table masses. Similar to Manhattan’s new bistro Foodie, you can almost hear the groan of sophisticated diners everywhere, another sign our food-obsessed culture has jumped the shark.
Yet there is an earnestness to chef/owner Jason Moniz’s new Bernal Heights venture (100% local meat and produce, no exceptions) that makes it easy to forgive the name. Not to mention, he cooks a damn fine meal.
On a recent Wednesday night, Locavore was filled to the brim. The menu rotates daily, and the kitchen had just run out of one of Moniz’s “signature dishes” (if a six-week-old restaurant can really boast such a thing), the pork chop au jus.
No matter, as the remaining options more than made up for the pork that got away. An inventive salad of char-grilled cabbage, apple, turnip and lardon only suffered from a lack of warmth on this chilly San Francisco night. Fresh fettuccine with clams and ever-so-in-season crab, with a kiss of garlic, white wine and olive oil, brooked no complaints. Locavore’s burger only lost points for overpowering its mild, house-smoked bacon topper with a heady mix of chuck, brisket and short rib. Even a simple side of collard greens, cooked with only salt and butter, had enough flavor to hold their own. All told, an excellent showcase of local ingredients, well-prepared.
Not everything was pitch-perfect, certainly. Tables were crammed elbow-to-elbow along the walls, exposing a large open area in the restaurant’s center, a layout that lacked both intimacy and personal space. The décor — black and white photos of barnyard animals and produce — again ran the risk of over-selling Moniz’s point. But with ingredients this good, and chef skills to match, you could maybe even get away with calling your restaurant Foodie.
But probably not.