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Spork Excudes Fast Food Charm Without the Fast Food Flavor

Rating: ★★★★☆

Note: Unfortunately, Spork closed in early 2012

Miniature, plastic Pikachus decorate the restaurant’s entrance, greeting each customer when they walk in the door. Giant prints of 1950’s billboards hang from the walls. Shiny, illuminated cooling fans adorn the space above the food pass window. If walking into Spork feels a bit like walking into a modern-day drive-thru, that’s probably because this space was literally an old KFC that has been converted into a lively, quirky neighborhood restaurant. Although the days of serving buckets of chicken wings may be over, every detail of the renovated space, from the décor to the cuisine to the staff’s dress code, preserves the spirit of fast food culture...Continue Reading

The menu puts a modern, organic spin on classic American dishes – think an Inside-Out Burger ($14) made with a grass-fed patty, or Kobe steak ($23) and potatoes. With playful concepts and fresh ingredients, the food has the potential to thoroughly impress. However, slight errors in execution prevent this restaurant from reaching its full potential and moving beyond its current status as a stand-by Mission eatery.

Examples of these slips can be found in a number of dishes: a classic Caesar salad ($10) is updated with warm chicories, an organic egg, melted anchovies, and warm sherry mustard vinaigrette. However, an excess of dressing overshadows the flavors of its individual components. The Wild Mushroom Pasta ($19), while tasty and well-seasoned, just misses the mark by being a bit too greasy. Finally, the lively flavor of the Brussel Sprouts with calamari and a lime-chili aioli is overshadowed by an excessive amount of lemon.

Small mistakes aside, there are certain items on the menu that are downright delicious, starting with the most simple selection: freshly-baked dinner rolls. These warm, soft, puffy pieces of cloud are free and are absolutely addictive, which becomes a problem when you have to face the embarrassment of asking not just for one roll, but five. The Yellowtail Sashimi ($13) paired with daikon sprouts and apple is a simple, refreshing start to the meal. Finally, my favorite entrées tend to be the vegetarian options – the Stuffed Winter Squash ($18) or the Eggplant Fricassee ($18) provide hearty, flavorful options that will leave any devoted meat eater satisfied.

Although the fast food spirit is certainly in the air, “fast” is not exactly the optimal adjective to describe the service. While the entire staff is nothing but friendly and approachable, because of its somewhat limited seating and popularity, meals at Spork tend to be somewhat leisurely in comparison to other restaurants of its kind. On the other hand, it’s that same crowded, energetic environment that makes Spork a perfect neighborhood dining destination.

Bottom line, tiny Pikachus greet you at the door, and if that doesn't set the tone for a fun, lively dinner with friends, I don’t know what does.

1058 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110-2427
(415) 643-5000

Spork on Urbanspoon

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