This year, Maverick was my choice for my 31st birthday dinner with my man-friend. Actually, Outerlands was going to be my birthday dinner choice, but we found out last minute that they were closed for the 4th of July (man-friend was going out of town on my actual b-day; this was my pre-bday dinner) and that our OpenTable reservation was a sham. A sham!
Anger from that incident aside, Maverick was a suitable replacement. It’s a teeny little contemporary American restaurant in the Mission District. And though it doesn’t fit in with the roving crack-heads, plentiful hipster bars, and relentless dollar taquerias that plague the Mission, it is still totally worth making the trek for. It’s even worth ending a sentence in a preposition for.
We started our evening with the gruyere gougeres with french onion dip and the mushroom “cigars” with (what I recall to be) plum sauce (or something like it).
The word “gougeres” appears to be a fancy way to say “biscuit”. Essentially, it’s a fancy, French, cheesy, airy biscuit. You can’t really go wrong. However, it wasn’t said biscuits that were extraordinary; it was the homemade french onion dip that accompanied them. OH MAN that stuff was good. I dipped everything in it from then on, guarded it fiercely when servers tried to take it away, and debated smuggling it and its tear-shaped bowl into my purse for future enjoyment. But then I remembered that I don’t carry a purse. And it’s always so awkward when I leave a restaurant carrying their dishware in my bare hands. So, I just made sure to lick the bowl clean before I left.
The mushroom cigars were a minced mushroom mix wrapped in a flaky dough and deep fried — kind of like a slender egg roll or lumpia. They were good, but honestly not quite as good as I expected, being an immense mushroom lover. Though we did get the last order of them that day, which made me feel triumphant.
We also enjoyed the seasonal heirloom tomato salad which was absolutely delicious. Though the assembly of this dish is beautiful, it still amazed me how flavorful it was even though it appeared to be relatively simple. They seemed to toss it in some oil and seasonings that made each bite significantly more delicious than the tomato salads I routinely produce in my kitchen. I guess that’s why the person who works there is called a “chef” and I am not. #revelation
Then came the scallop, blue prawn, and calamari, which comes with squid ink crostini, sea beans, abalone mushrooms, tomato water, and liquid olive. This dish was pretty good, despite “tomato water” and “liquid olive” being rather odd ingredients, imho. My only complaint about this dish was the blue prawn. It was fried whole, and I wasn’t sure how to eat it. My companion assured me you can eat the whole thing — the shell, head, and legs and everything. Yeah, I don’t want to do that. It was gross. The legs were, well, legs; the shell was tough, as you might expect a shell to be; and the head was filled with disgusting goo, again, as you might expect. Sadly, it’s what I remember most about the dish, though the rest was tasty.
For a main, we split the California Black Cod with crispy bacalao, green peppercorn crusted summer squash, red orach, squash “bisque”, and cilantro coulis which was very well made and delicious. I love black cod. The weird hot dog-looking thing is apparently the bacalao, which is dried, salted cod. Or so Wikipedia tells me. At the time I just poked at it, took a bite, and dutifully split it with my dinner-mate. Done and done.
I guess I had some odd complaints, but generally I really liked the place. I thought the ingredients were interesting and well thought out, and that the dishes were beautifully presented. Most everything was extremely tasty, and the ambiance was classy and casual at the same time. First birthday dinner of 2013: check.