Note: First Looks give previews of new dishes, drinks, and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots and interviews with restaurants, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations.
Tucked away in a corner of the Presidio, just off Lyon Street, lies a white walled, 1903 military barracks. Step inside and you'll find the historical building has been converted into a modern restaurant. That restaurant is the Presidio Social Club, which, like the structure it sits in, is a mix of old and new school California. The "favorites" on the savory menu include meatloaf, hamburgers, and mac and cheese, while the rest of the menu includes distinctive new California dishes such as a chopped kale salad.
Luckily when chef Rene Cruz, formerly of EOS and Baker and Banker, came to take the helm of the pastry department, his style fit right in. Like modern chefs, he's focused on the seasonal and inspired by his produce. See his rhubarb-olive oil cake, which actually came about from a fascination with some pink peppercorns.
"I love the spice of the peppercorns. I poached them in simple syrup to emphasize their sweetness, then used them as a contrast to the tanginess of fresh rhubarb."
On the other hand, he's serving spins on classic American desserts like the Pineapple Upside Down Cake, which he's shrunk into an individually sized portion and paired with a pineapple toffee sauce. The twist? The sauce is made with brown butter, sugar, and pineapple juice instead of cream. "I wanted to play with the dish, to lighten it up," says Cruz.
Cruz has also started the process of bringing their bread program in house. In February he started with homemade brioche and challah loaves which will be used as a component in savory menu items. He also revamped the bread basket, giving each table a selection of homemade olive oil rosemary focaccia at the start of their meal. By the end of the year, Cruz would like to do all the bread making for the restaurant on site, moving to include new styles like rustic ryes and sourdough.
Click through the slideshow to see all the items in the new dessert menu as well as some homemade bread.