Get ready to gain some weight with me… I can’t help but overindulge when I go to Garçon. I’ve been coming here regularly for the past seven years, but it’s been on that corner for almost 11 now. I’d gone a few times before, but found it hit or miss until Chef Arthur Wall came along, in about 2010. Chef Wall hales from New Orleans, and wanted to instill that Creole sensibility into the cuisine, while still remaining true to beloved French standards. With a focus on seasonal and local produce, Chef Wall has managed that handily.
Stepping into Garçon feels like you’re walking into a bistro in the Marais district of Paris. It’s homey, chic, casual, yet refined. The staff speaks French, as do some of the regulars, and if you sit at the bar you’re likely to get a little something extra on the house.
A friend and I recently sat at the bar for dinner (really, my favorite place to eat here) and, after a cocktail, proceeded to order up an orage (storm).
Lovely cocktails, along with a really tasty wine list. They’ll often offer you a taste of something if you can’t decide.
First, we split the frisee salad with lardons…
That lovely golden orb at the top of the bowl is a dream – a crispy fried poached egg, so that when you cut into it, it oozes over the salad and blends with the hazelnut vinaigrette. I did not realize it was even in the bowl, however, before my friend had cut into and spread it around, so I didn’t get the money shot. Tant pis.
Also, we shared the duck liver pâté…
…with apples, pistachios, pink peppercorns, a drizzle of balsamic syrup, and, in the white bowl, darling little cubes of riesling gelee, which is the perfect thing to serve with pâté. Don’t take my word for it, run over there and try it tonight.
We also split a side of Brussels sprouts and moules marinières:
The Brussells sprouts were tossed with pancetta and caramelized shaved onions, making for a delightfully crunchy and smoky side dish.
The mussels were fragrant with the likes of fennel, shallot, lavender, and lemon in a pastis-chardonnay broth. A bowl of Provence!
For his main, my friend ordered the duck confit.
The crispy-skinned duck came with a delicate cauliflower puree, duck jus, sautéed kale, fat creamy white beans, and another fried poached egg (overdone a bit this time, but he loved it anyway).
I had the pan-seared King salmon, with wonderful smoked potatoes and sweetly caramelized leeks.
What did we not finish? A smidge of the Brussels sprouts which I brought home for the BF. A lovely glass of sweet Sauternes afterwards finished us off, as we were too full for dessert proper.
The BF and I went for our old favorites on another recent visit. We split the goat cheese salad..
… a raucous bowl of arugula, radicchio, and sliced pear in a honey-champagne vinaigrette. I’m a bit sad that they no longer automatically offer bread and butter as they used to (you have to order it, and it now comes with olive oil, although I’m sure you could get butter if you wanted – we’re not actually in France, after all), but I’m also glad, because I tended to fill up on it.
For my meal, I got the steak-frites.
A chewy, perfectly ruby red hanger steak, napped in a silky red wine reduction, with a knob of truffled butter. This is what my dreams are made of. People sometimes pooh-pooh this dish because it seems so simple, basic. But there is an art to getting the steak just right, with or without a sauce, and in making perfectly crispy frites that will bathe in the steak juices. They serve them separately here, so you can control how much jus the frites will sop up…
With a light, garlicky aioli, of course. I really could live off these….
The BF ordered his favorite, the burger:
Oh that squishy brioche bun! The beef is beefy, the caramelized onions sweet. It’s a fabulous burger that never disappoints. Also served with the frites.
There’s always something new on the menu here, while some things repeat seasonally. Sweetbreads are a favorite, as is the merguez crepinette (spiced lamb sausage wrapped in caul fat), oysters, octopus, coq au vin…. I sincerely hope now that Chef Wall has turned his attention to his newest exciting venture, Bayou (reviewed here: https://missionlocal.org/2017/05/bayou-creole-kitchen-casual-new-orleans-in-the-mission/), the quality and deliciousness he brought to Garçon carries on. So far, it seems like we’ve got nothing to worry about.
1101 Valencia Street (corner of 22nd)
San Francisco, CA 94110