One Market. One Michelin star. One hell of a good lunch.
From the outside, One Market resembles many of its Embarcadero neighbors – a conspicuous, sprawling, posh space dotted with white tablecloths and men in suits. But don’t let the exterior fool you. Unlike many waterfront restaurants, which exude a Power Lunch confidence but have little substance, the quality of the food being served inside far surpasses its nearby competitors.
And, unlike many of the surrounding dining options, where you’re paying top-dollar primarily for the atmosphere, One Market knows how to craft a deal. Every week they offer a “Weekly Beast” dinner menu, consisting of 5 courses that highlight the different parts of a single animal. Five rabbit dishes for a mere $49? $20 more for the wine pairing? Yes, please!
While I haven’t had the opportunity to partake in their dinner option, I was more than happy to try their “market lunch”- any appetizer plus any entrée for $28. Let’s put it this way, if you ordered the cheapest items from the list, you would still come out to around $24, and this lunch option puts those items that might otherwise seem a bit too pricey within your reach.
While you may be tempted to sit in the formal dining room, the best seat in the house is actually located towards the back – a spot at the bar that wraps around the kitchen. For a foodie like myself, it was exciting to have the opportunity to watch an award-winning kitchen in action.
The food that comes out of that kitchen could best be described as inventive; what you read on the menu is not exactly what you get. Sure, the ingredients listed are all there, but the way that Chef Dommen puts them together was, for me, quite a surprise. There are not many restaurants that shock and awe, but the sight of each dish placed in front of me elicited a wide-eyed feeling of joy, followed by flavors that warrant the following detailed descriptions.
Starting with the appetizers, the Dungeoness Crab ($14.75) with green apple water, jalapeno, and cilantro was a perfect start to our meal. I know what you’re asking, because I asked the same thing. What in the world is green apple water? Apparently, it resembles a lake of green apple-flavored agar agar on which everything else is served. A single bite was so refreshing that I felt like I had just brushed my teeth and then jumped in a cold mountain lake. Original, intriguing, I’m still not even sure what I was eating – but I liked it.
We also ordered the Tazmanian Trout (mi-cuit) ($14.25), which was placed on a nest of “potato rosti,” also known as the best hash browns I’ve ever had, and served with a giant poached chicken egg and pancetta vinaigrette. Fresh fish, gooey egg yolk, crunchy potatoes, salty pancetta, what’s not to like? My only criticism would be that, while the pancetta vinaigrette added a lot of flavor to the dish, it also added oil, and a touch less oil on the plate would’ve made this dish perfect.
The entrees that followed took on more subtle flavors. The Swiss Chard Ravioli ($19.25) with sheep’s milk ricotta and chanterelle mushrooms was served in a delicate parmesan emulsion, and while the flavor of mushroom was distinct, a bit of salt and pepper would have brought the flavors to life.
Finally, I was thoroughly impressed with One Market’s ability to reinvent the Cobb Salad ($17). While the elements of a Cobb salad were all there, what my comrade received was less of a salad and more of an expression of a salad – a few leaves of lettuce, a quail egg cut in half, thinly sliced strips of bacon, blue cheese crumbs, and scoops of tomato were artfully positioned over pieces of chicken pounded so thin that I didn’t know that it wasn’t pita bread, or a tortilla, until I put it in my mouth.
Although some minor corrections could be made, at the end of my meal there was no doubt that I would be back. The reason? That wonderful element of surprise that made each dish exciting, and left me curious as to what they would serve me next.
1 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94105