by Marcia Gagliardi of tablehopper.com
In a city full of Cali-influenced cuisine, it’s nice to know that fresh, bright-tasting food can actually be from somewhere else too. And no, I’m not talking Vietnamese, or Thai, or Japanese. I’m talking antipodean, mate. After traveling in Australia in early 2007, I was definitely excited for the opening of SOUTH FOOD + WINE BAR in San Francisco. I was smitten as a kitten with the cuisine I experienced when I was Down Under, full of fish (kitties like fish), great produce, Asian influences and ingredients, and exotic spices that made fusion actually interesting, instead of a sitting duck for derision.
South is Australian chef Luke Mangan’s first stateside venture—he partnered up with Anna Weinberg (a Kiwi) and Liz O’ Connell (an Aussie), two ladies with some serious restaurant and wine experience behind them. The odds are quite good you’ll encounter some accents here. Good on ya.
It’s a funky little spot in SoMa, and definitely off the beaten path (you can pretend you’re on a walkabout); but it’s actually just across from the Caltrain station. The building itself is rather office-nondescript blah, but once you’re inside the restaurant, all kinds of funky details and visual personality will catch your eye, like the lively Maori-inspired pattern under the bar, the unique bent plywood woven overhead lamps, the modern white chairs and barstools, and a 16-foot communal table of jarrah wood.
It’s casual, comfortable, and very likely busy busy—even on what I thought would be a sleepy Tuesday night, au contraire, it was hoppin’. And no, there isn’t another room behind the fabric along the wall—what you see is what you get.
I ate a lunch and dinner at South soon after it opened, but just recently had another dinner there and was able to try some of the brand-spankin’-new dishes that have been placed on the “ModOz” menu. While I’ll miss the succulent quail, the new menu should give folks a reason to return and see what’s new.
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South Food + Wine Bar
330 Townsend St., Ste. 101
Cross: 4th St.
San Francisco, CA 94107
Closed Sun night
Marcia Gagliardi writes a popular insider e-column about the SF dining scene, “the tablehopper.” Subscribe for free at www.tablehopper.com and get it in your inbox every Tuesday.