5 Reasons to (Re)Discover San Francisco’s One Market Restaurant
Apr 21, 2017 08:05PM ● Published by Fran Miller
By Fran Endicott Miller
In a city of notable restaurants where popularity is very often based on the ‘new’ and the ‘now,’ one venerable spot continues to more than hold its own. Since 1993, One Market Restaurant at the corner of Market and Steuart Sts. has served as a favored dining destination for locals and tourists alike – remarkable longevity in today’s fast-paced, focus-challenged world. Just as music and fashion tastes change frequently, so do food and beverage trends. Same for dining décor preferences. (Remember Henry Africa’s fern jungle and leaded glass lamps?) Most restaurateurs will concede that maintaining a restaurant’s popularity over the course of nearly 25 years is not an easy proposition. So how does One Market do it? Let us count the ways:
1) Atmosphere: Chameleon-like environs allow One Market to be at once sophisticated and urbane, but also relaxed and casual. Sometimes crowded, and at other times subdued, its aura appeals to a variety of diners and is as perfect for a celebratory dinner as it is for a business lunch. Muted hues and soft lighting are juxtaposed with the large picture windows that overlook the city’s urban energy. It’s a large space, featuring both cozy booths, floating tables, several private dining rooms, a sultry bar, and an open exhibition kitchen where select meats are seared over an open flame. A counter in back provides front row seating for observation of the masterful (and playful) culinary choreography of the highly trained and devoted kitchen staff, many of whom have been with the restaurant for several years.
2) Charismatic Leadership: To say that chef/owner Mark Dommen has ably followed in the footsteps of One Market’s celebrated founding chef and principal, Bradley Ogden, is to put it mildly. His modern take on American cuisine earned the restaurant a Michelin star in 2008-2012 and a 3 ½ star review from San Francisco Chronicle critic Michael Bauer. The classically trained Dommen was also named a 2007 StarChefs.com “Rising Star” and has helped the restaurant maintain a consistent presence on the Chronicle’s “Top 100” restaurant list. He has 20 years of kitchen experience under his belt, much of that time spent in some of the world’s most distinguished restaurants. Dommen blends the freshest, seasonal ingredients from California with the classic French techniques he learned throughout his career.
3) @NoirSommelier: You might know One Market’s wine director and sommelier Tonya Pitts by this, her social media moniker. Via Twitter and Instagram, Pitts shares her wine knowledge and preferences…and occasionally a favorite tune or two. The amiable Pitts has run One Market’s domestic focused wine program for the past seven years and she knows her stuff. Choose her ‘flight of the month,’ or have her make selections based on your menu choices. It was early in her 20-year food and beverage career that mentors such as Zuni Café’s Chef Judy Rodgers and Stars Restaurant’s Jeremiah Tower recognized her remarkable palate. It was while working with Loretta Keller of Bizou Restaruant that Pitts truly recognized her passion for wine – and a passion for sharing her knowledge. Whether you order wine with your dinner or not, make it a point to meet Pitts. She's fantastic.
4) The Food: Dommen enjoys experimenting with the freshest of produce, seafood and meats to create entirely new and unexpected dishes. His menu changes seasonally and includes inventive farm-fresh dishes such as lightly smoked ocean trout with potato rösti, organic chicken egg and pancetta vinaigrette; Marquita Farms spring pea salad with English peas, snow peas, snap peas, yogurt panna cotta, and banyuls vinaigrette; bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with dandelion “persillade,” salsify and natural jus; Mushroom "stroganoff" with house-made gemelli pasta, porcini "cream,” and crème fraiche. But one can also find classics such as a Caesar salad (Ogden’s original recipe), all natural half chicken, New York steak or filet mignon. Be sure to try the ‘Farmer’s Market Sides,’ such as plentiful portions of grilled asparagus, potato tots, or chickpea fries. Whether you’ve room left or not, it would be a shame to exit without a denouement from pastry chef Patti Dellamonica-Bauler’s dessert menu, from which many of the ingredients are fetched from the Ferry Plaza farmer’s market across the street: for example, apple rhubarb strudel with rhubarb sauce, crème fraîche, and strawberry-mascarpone ice cream; Valrohna Tainori chocolate peanut torte with peanut nougatine and peanut butter ice cream, or a duo of crème brûlées: vanilla bean & cappuccino, and tiny cookies. Can’t decide? Order a sampling of three.
5) Location: Ideally situated steps from the Embarcadero Bart station, East Bay residents have no excuse for not venturing forth to experience this classic. A walk before or after your meal along the Embarcadero will reenergize and revitalize; after all of these years, San Francisco retains its magic, as does One Market.
1 Market, San Francisco, (415) 777-5577