Thursday, January 29, 2015

Star-Crossed Lovers

Verbena melts away the battle between meat lovers and meat haters


If Shakespeare were writing Romeo and Juliet today, instead of choosing two feuding noble families, the Bard of Avon would look to star-crossed lovers from dueling diets, the legendary Vegans and the Car'nivores.

But rather than a tragic ending, this is joyous one. Because instead of Verona, we're heading to Verbena in Russian Hill, where the folks who brought us seasonal foodie favorite Gather in Berkeley have united those who love meat with those who love to avoid it.

Bring your betrothed for a leisurely date, where you can spend a few hours lingering over hearty, mouthwateringly unique standouts.

Vegans will immediately notice shelved jars of pickled vegetables glowing like rubies in a wall of reclaimed wood. They'll enjoy glazed carrots as sweet as dessert, and mushrooms rich and meaty enough to have grown in The Shire.

Those siding with Car'nivore won't be left behind, with options from Koji quail to duck meatballs to trotter tartine.

Pair your dishes with selections from the exceptionally curated wine list. Michael Ireland (French Laundry, Quince) has hand-picked sustainable wines, led by Cabernet Franc from Broc Cellars. No poison or daggers, though.

Just a final scene of molasses ginger cake paired with IPA caramel. And maybe a sonnet, if your game is up for it.

2323 Polk Street (b/w Green and Union), Russian Hill
(415) 441-2323

Price: 2 (out of 4)
Noise: 1 (out of 4)
Parking: Metered street
Scene: A friendly bunch of fellow diners, gourmands, and wine enthusiasts
Best bets: Trotter terrine; seafood sausage; duck meatballs; molasses ginger cake
Garden design: Abueg Morris Architects (Nopalito, Comal) designed the illuminated wall of pickled jars, high ceilings, and black walnut bar.
Private party: For more intimacy, book the upstairs mezzanine for you and your closest friends.
Nearby: Leopold's; Tonic; Bullitt

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