Boulettes Larder, San Francisco

After eating lunch a few times at the popular Ferry Building eatery, I decided to try Boulettes Larder’s Sunday brunch. When I arrived a few minutes before 10am, the wait staff seemed confused, walking around with no reason like free-range chickens. The host curiously starting every sentence with an apology.

A few parties with reservations waited anxiously outside for their spot at the coveted communal table. Since the space is tight inside, most people are regretfully turned down. Not without an apology.

While the overflow sits at the less original outside tables, a dozen or so enjoy a privileged view of the beautiful industrial kitchen, only a few feet from the counters and stoves where the cooks are preparing the morning meals. The atmosphere is welcoming and warm; like eating at a charming grandma’s country house. The intimate space also yields more attentive service compared to the often forgotten outside patio, where I sat.

The menu

Boulettes Larder is an active member of the Slow Food movement. The restaurant offers a selection of dishes prepared with locally grown, organic ingredients from sustainable farmers. And that seems to be the focus of all attention. But apart from some pastries, the quirkily described brunch menu is hardly a brunch menu. There are only a couple of egg dishes; most of the other options are better suited for a lunch appetite.

The meal

One of the highlights on the menu is the b/L Beignets with fairy dust. Served warm, crispy outside and creamy inside. Dusted with sugar they are, next to Spruce’s and Town’s, on my top beignets list.

Unfortunately, one of the egg dishes was extremely disappointing. Anson mills white corn grits with greens and poached eggs, Italian two milk robiola cheese. Bland in appearance and taste. Monochromatic and devoid of any complexity of flavors. Apart from the pungent cheese, it tasted like hospital food. Well prepared, sustainable, organic hospital food nonetheless.

The other egg dish was the Scrambled eggs, chorizo boulettes, coriander spiced oranges. The eggs were nicely cooked, served moist, well balanced with the tasty sausage. A much better option in appearance, taste and texture.

In my lunch visits to B/l, I had similar inconsistent experiences. Some dishes were honestly flavorful (gemelli with pork ragout) while others were considerably bland (paella).

One thing you can count on is coffee. From Blue Bottle, served in individual French presses, available in 2 sizes. Expensive but worth it.

In short

Despite the welcoming open kitchen (assuming you can get a seat inside), eating at Boulettes Larder can sometimes disappoint, especially for what they charge. Its self-absorbing attitude every so often takes a toll on how good things actually taste. It can be brilliant but it can also be bland. Hit or miss, so far it’s been 50/50.

Boulettes Larder is at 1 Ferry Building #48
For reservations, call (415) 399-1155


Kieran said...

Brunch menu? Did you want another drab menu of omelettes and pancakes? Is that all a midday meal on Sunday is allowed to be? There are plenty of "brunch joints." I for one, will return again and again for a quirky menu filled with subtle flavors and surprises where the unobtrusive service allows me to enjoy my meal quietly.

Chef Ben said...

I've never eaten there. Always seem small and a bit intimidating. I feel like there are better brunch options in the city.

Manger La Ville said...

That is my friend in the pictures, the one in the glasses. I went to high school with her. I have always wanted to try the food here, despite going to the farmer's market faithfully. I am not sure why. Thanks for the review...

SLCFoodie said...

I ate hear during a recent trip to San Francisco and loved it! Everything from the food presentation to the service and restaurant ambiance was lovely!