Full disclosure: this post comes courtesy of the UrbanHour event organized by Urbanspoon and sponsored by The Corner Store in Inner Richmond. We generally do not want complimentary meals or special access since we blog anonymously and want to provide our readers with what a typical restaurant experience would be like. However, since we are relatively new at this, we thought it would be a great opportunity to meet some other members of the Bay Area food blogging community. Lasting more than an hour, the UrbanHour event was really fun, and the drinks and the food were really excellent.
As the group of about 28 people were gathered, drinks were ordered and imbibed with pleasure. The Corner Store has a full bar which provides some interesting twists on classic cocktails. In addition to cocktails, the bar serves as a soda fountain where milkshakes can be ordered with or without alcohol. We prefer our drinks more spirituous than sweet, so we stuck with the non-dairy based drinks. Their wine list is also intriguing since it is comprised of old world varietals by California producers. Prior to dinner, we drank a glass of food-friendly Zocker 2011 Gruner Veltliner from Edna Valley and a very tasty Red Robert cocktail (St. George Single Malt, Sweet and Dry Vermouths, Amaro, bitters, burnt orange and cherry garnish):
They sent out more than a few plates to share for everyone to try. Service was efficient and great – they even made sure to provide dishes for the vegetarians and pescetarians at the table. The carnivores at the table started off with The Wedge, their version of the classic steakhouse salad made with little gem lettuce, pickled shallots, sliced radishes, Pt. Reyes blue cheese and a pleasantly sweet and crunchy candied bacon:
Next up was the one dish we had heard about and were very anxious to try: Buffalo Sweetbreads. Served atop blue cheese dressing, the glands were perfectly fried to a crisp and tossed in Frank’s hot sauce. We love our wings, but we also love offal and this was an excellent substitution of one favorite for another. To complete the “Buffalo” experience, bits of celery and radish were served along the perimeter of the plate to add the familiar crunch:
They served us a preview of an item that they are considering adding to the menu: A Crispy Kale Salad served with croutons and fried panko crusted soft-boiled eggs. Once cut into, the yolk in the egg served as a dressing for this deliciously almost healthy salad. We most certainly hope that they do put this item on their menu:
We then moved on to drinking a glass of a 2009 Calaveras Creek Mourvedre and their excellent take on a Sazerac made with a walnut-infused Bourbon:
Moving onto hot food, the Corner Store PB&J featured a crispy grit cake that is topped with very tender bourbon glazed pulled pork belly. The huckleberry sauce was sweet but paired really well with the pork. For vegetarians, they replaced the pork with beech mushrooms. We thought that this would make a great dish for brunch; all they would need to do is to add an egg:
A few platters of their excellent chuck burger that comes topped with aged cheddar cheese and bacon jam spread were brought to the table. The burger quadrants and crispy fries quickly disappeared:
Crispy-skinned Idaho Red Trout came with braised leeks, mussels, shrimp and pumpkin in a light lemon-grass broth. It was a great version of a seasonal seafood stew:
The Bread Pudding served with vanilla ice cream was a really great dessert:
Owner Miles Palliser and Chef Nick Adams came out and addressed the group to provide some insight and history of The Corner Store:
It’s no wonder The Corner Store’s take on seasonal American regional and comfort food with a twist is so successful, Chef Adams previously worked under the Rosenthal brothers at Town Hall and Salt House. When asked if he would ever bring a variation of Poutine to The Corner Store, he quickly responded that he would be happy if he never made another one ever again. Poutine seems to be popping up as a trend on many restaurant menus, but the fries smothered with cheese curds and meat gravy was one of Salt House’s original and very popular item that has been on their menu since they opened in 2007. We can forgive Chef Adams for not making any more poutines; it’s Canadian in origin anyway, and his take on solid American food is something that we look forward to eating more of in future visits.
Miles related the interesting story about how they discovered that The Corner Store site has a very rich history. Prior to The Corner Store, it was most recently the Hawaiian-kitschy Hukilau restaurant. However, the building dates back to the earlier 1900s where it was originally a soda fountain (hence the milkshakes). Around Prohibition, the 2nd floor became a brothel and the basement turned into a Speakeasy complete with a tunnel to the underground distillery across the street. We asked him if they had plans to reopen the Speakeasy again and he indicated that they are contemplating it, but have no plans on turning the upstairs into a modern day bordello.
Many thanks to The Corner Store for graciously hosting us for this event, and to Urbanspoon for organizing the UrbanHour.