Text Size:-+

Restaurant Review: Myth Restaurant and Lounge, San Francisco

In trying to gauge my own reaction to the recently opened Myth, I recall my first experience of Restaurant LuLu nearly 10 years ago. At the time, this recently opened restaurant seemed, well... effortless. It knew what it wanted to be and managed to nail it perfectly, crafting an atmosphere, a menu, a wine list, and an overall experience that were its own, and both confidently and pleasingly so. This is not to say it achieved anything close to "perfection" (whatever that meant to my culinary sense then or now) but merely myth.jpg that it was the right thing, in the right place, at the right time " a complete package of cuisine and aesthetic that I found myself more than a little in love with.

My standards for food and for design have evolved since the early Nineties, and my affections for Lulu have waned. I have not forgotten though, the feeling I was left with at the end of that first meal there, and it was with the same triumphant feeling that I completed a meal recently at Myth Restaurant and Lounge, leaving the restaurant with a glowing feeling that had me whispering to myself, "wow, that was fantastic."

Myth opened about 10 weeks ago in the space vacated by MC Squared, in the heart of the Jackson Square antique and design district just down the hill from North Beach. Rather than simply repurposing the space and overhauling the kitchen, Myth is a complete transformation, a wholly new restaurant that makes the most of a space that never quite worked at MC Squared. And what a transformation. I hesitate to make sweeping statements like "this restaurant matches my design aesthetic completely" but I struggle to find anything about the restaurant design that doesn't meet my approval. A mix of Norwegian, Asian, and Italian modern influences, the space uses gorgeous wood, exposed brick and iron beams, touches of bright stainless steel, stained glass, a little bamboo here, and fantastic halogen lighting to create a dazzling yet refined overall impression, courtesy of Architects Michael Guthrie & Co.

The restaurant's overall atmosphere sits somewhere between a bustling bistro and an intimate dining experience, perfectly embodying the overused but appropriate phrase "casual elegance." The space is relatively wide open, and sound carries a little from the probably 30 tables that occupy the main dining room, so there's not a quiet, hushed sense that you might get at other restaurants which are as ambitious and serious about the food, yet this is clearly not the zoo you expect at Boulevard or Chez Papa.

The semi-open kitchen occupies a good portion of the Western side of the restaurant and a decent sized bar/lounge area takes up the Eastern section, divided off from the main dining room by a row of freestanding cube-like wooden booths that are surprisingly well integrated to the overall space, considering there's no other seating like it anywhere else in the restaurant. Apart from this main bright dining room, the restaurant has some lovely glass and brick partitioned smaller rooms, which can be filled with diners looking for a little more intimacy, or by private parties. The largest of these rooms was completely private and seemed like it could easily seat 25.

Myth is the first major solo venture in San Francisco by Sean O'Brien, former Sous chef at Gary Danko and the experienced Tom Duffy, owner/manager of Spoon (now Tablespoon). These two have created a venue that is billed as a restaurant and lounge, but unlike its neighbor Frisson, they haven't let the hip-ness drive the menu to a point of confusion.

The food, in a word, is outstanding. The menu (which I am told will change every few weeks) provides the opportunity to dine either in traditional three-course style, or should you care to sample a bit more of the fare, in small plates, with many of the entrees offered as half portions for about half the price. O'Brien has put together a menu that is classically California/French with a variety of forms (appetizers, soups, salads, pastas, pizzas, as well as main courses are on offer). The main courses are evenly split between seafood and meats -- vegetarians may want to take note, there were only a couple of veggie items on the menu the night I went: one pasta and one salad.

I started with a smoked salmon timbale with Dungeness crab, rock shrimp, apple, and avocado mousse. I've had a lot of poor tartars lately, and they're beginning to get quite tiresome and clichéd. This little roll of salmon stuffed with tasty seafood, was light and pleasing, perfectly fresh, and free from anything that might interfere with the fresh flavors of the dish. The dish didn't elevate the form, but it was delicious and beautifully, even artfully presented. My dining companion insisted I try his appetizer, and I was glad I did. While I don't normally enjoy raw oysters with anything other than a little lemon juice, his Kumamoto oysters marinated in cilantro and lime with Yuzu Tobiko were simply stunning, both in taste and in presentation. The Yuzu Tobiko were bright green against the silvery grey of the oysters and the textural opposition between the caviar popping in your mouth along with the sensual smooth briny oyster was delightful. It was at this point in the meal that I really started to sit up and take notice (as well as wish that I had ordered a few more appetizers). Other starters on offer included a warm sweetbread salad with bacon, sherry vinegar, Shiitakes and grain mustard, a foie gras mousse with pear chutney, pistachios and pomegranate seeds, and a roasted pumpkin bisque with spiced Quince and smoked duck.

We skipped over the pastas and pizzas and went straight for the main dishes, but I savored the descriptions of entrees like Garganelli pasta with foie gras cream and Marsala, and risotto with butternut squash, cauliflower, black trumpets and white truffle oil. I opted for a rousted poussin (young chicken) with gigante beans, Blue Lake beans and a mustard rosemary sauce, while my friend went for the mushroom dusted scallops with black trumpet mushrooms and potato puree. My chicken dish was excellent. It had an impeccable, intact, crispy, thin skin that burst with the flavors of mustard and rosemary, and juicy, perfectly cooked meat, carefully paired with two kinds of beans that were also perfectly cooked and lovely earthy accompaniments to the salt and spice of the chicken. By the time I looked up from my bird, my partner's entrée had been decimated, so I can only report the satisfied look and low frequency "Mmmmmmm" I got when I enquired about its flavors.

The cooking here seems perfectly poised between dishes and flavors that play between comfortable and hearty and something more refined. There is nothing avant garde going on in the kitchen -- no boundaries are being pushed here, and there aren't sculptors and technicians whipping up dazzling visual presentations for the dishes -- yet this food is decidedly not ordinary. Rather there is a subtle enhancement going on with many plates: small bits of more exotic ingredients, a powerful aromatic effect here, an unexpected combination of textures there, all of which speak to an accomplishment and control in the kitchen that bears watching.

The wines that have been selected by sommelier Alex Fox to accompany the food are competent and of high quality. The by-the-glass selections managed to avoid the pitfalls of being too ordinary and were reasonably priced as well as diverse. The bottle list is not extremely extensive but it has a breadth and depth that will satisfy most discerning palates, both those who are looking for California wines and those craving some European flavors to (more appropriately in my opinion) complement the food. Selections range from the low $30 range to wines in the several hundred range. The cellar has a few older wines in it, but this is not the place to go looking for deep coverage of past vintages.

Service at Myth is smart and crisp, and well up to fine dining standards, which is sadly not something that you can expect at all restaurants of this class in San Francisco. Our server, and the others that I managed to overhear, were very knowledgeable about the food and the wine list. All were able to recite ingredients and preparation methods, as well as know which wine I was talking about without having me point it out on the menu. I found this commendable especially considering they were still within their first couple of months of business.

For dessert, the restaurant offers a trio of artisanal cheeses as well as several other daily made creations. Notable among them were a lemon custard cake with Huckleberry sauce and a citrus tuile; apple bread pudding with maple sauce and orange blossom mousse; and what I ordered: a pear and dried cherry clafouti with a honey roasted pear and some Armagnac ice cream. I've made clafoutis many times myself and was surprised when what I ordered came out looking nothing like the custard-style tart I was expecting. Instead it was cake-like with small bits of the advertised fruits in it " delicious, but suspicious in its advertising. The ice cream was a perfect accompaniment, though, and almost made up for the disappointment. I was pleased to see that the restaurant also offered a Rieussec Sauternes by the glass, along with vin santo and a 1981 reserve Austrian wine I had never heard of, but plan on trying next time I'm there.

While the dessert course was competent, I didn't have the same excitement reading the menu as I did for the rest of the dinner. The desserts sounded good, but seemed a little predictable, lacking a little of the inventiveness and unique touches of the rest of the meal. The fact that this is the primary criticism I have to level at the restaurant, though, hopefully indicates the quality of the experience. O'Brien and Duffy have clearly set a high bar for themselves and are delivering an great dining experience. I will no doubt be a frequent patron, and feel confident that they will quickly find the same loyalty in many discerning patrons around the city.

(Side Note: Apparently the restaurant also offers a Chef's table which I'm very tempted to check out given the tantalizing glimpses I got on my first visit into the high-tech and well run kitchen and the quality and care of the ingredients that have been put into the food).

How Much?: Appetizer, main, dessert and two glasses of wine will set you back around $70 per person.

Myth Restaurant and Lounge
470 Pacific Street (@ Montgomery)
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 677-8986

Closed Mondays. Dinner only, from 5:30 PM " 10:00 PM, 'til 11:00 PM Fridays.

Reservations recommended, but the space is large enough that walk-ins shouldn't have a problem during the week.

Valet parking is $5 but you should be able to find something in the area fairly easily.

Comments (37)

sam wrote:
01.11.05 at 1:45 PM

oh darn you, Alder, adding another "must try" to my list during 'diet and frugality' season. A beautifully written review as usual. I sent the prize book to you, already, by the way, via Amazon, it should arrive soon. I think it will amuse you.

I am waiting to hear whther or not our landlord has sold our appartment, I should hear next week, if he has I will not only be very upset, I will also have a busy month ahead finding somewhere else to live, packing and moving. If he hasn't, I will seriously look into organising a SF food bloggers get together as you suggested.


Greg Minahan wrote:
01.17.05 at 10:12 AM

I stumbled upon your blog last week while looking for reviews of Myth as I had made a reservation for Saturday evening. Your review had me salivating by Thursday, and I am very, very happy to report that the experience of dining at Myth was every bit as described in your review. The service was impecible, from the hostess to the bus staff. The decor was exactly as I'd hoped. And the food... the food was amazing. I rank Gary Danko as one of my all time favorites, so I knew the chef would deliver something interesting in every bite. He delivered. Big time.

According to the waiter, The Chronicle review should be coming out in the upcoming weeks and I anticipate reservations will soon be difficult to acquire.

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on the restaurant. I second every word.


Alder wrote:
01.17.05 at 10:17 AM

Awesome, Greg. It's always great to hear that people find my reviews accurate and helpful, and of course, it's always great to hear when people have good dining experiences, regardless of where it is.

Sixy Beast wrote:
01.30.05 at 10:47 AM

Hey Alder
we finally made it to myth last night. thanks for the rec.
we had an "interesting" time.
I guess I really shouldn't have asked the sommelier if he agreed with me that the wine smelt like a urinal. Don't get me wrong. I LIKED the wine.
(Crozes Hermitage)
it just had an odd smell.
I might take a while til I get round to blogging the whole experience, but what a wonderful space - and the chefs table does sound interesting!

Arthur Che wrote:
02.09.05 at 2:27 PM

Doh! Didn't see this review til I saw it linked on Sam's site. I went to Myth with my dad just a few weeks after it opened (pre-Chronicle review), and I've got pictures, but haven't posted them yet. Let me just say for now that I the pasta with foie gras cream was the absolute highlight of the meal. The pasta was well-made and the sauce was simply excellent! It pains me to see you mention wanting the dish but deciding to skip over it. I'll be putting up more details of the meal in a while.

08.22.14 at 11:24 AM

obviously like your web site however you haave to chefk the spelling on several of your posts.
A numberr of them are rife with spelling issues and I
in finding it very troublesome to tell the reality on the
other hand I'll surely come again again.

08.22.14 at 1:21 PM

Greetings! I've been following your site for some time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from New Caney Tx!
Just wanted to tell you keeep up the excellent job!

08.22.14 at 4:28 PM

Thanks , I have just been looking for info about this
topic for a long time and yours is the best I've discovered so far.
But, what in regards to the bottom line? Are you sure concerning the source?

Glen wrote:
08.22.14 at 5:38 PM

You made some really good points there. I checked
on the web for more information about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this site.

Fanny wrote:
08.22.14 at 10:34 PM

Highly energetic post, I liked that bit.
Will there be a part 2?

08.23.14 at 12:15 AM

This website was... how ddo you say it? Relevant!!

Finally I have found something which helped me. Cheers!

08.23.14 at 12:47 AM

Hi! Do you know if they make any plugins to assist
with Search Engine Optimization? I'm trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted
keywords but I'm not seeing very good results. If you know of any please share.
Many thanks!

megasport.bg wrote:
08.23.14 at 2:55 AM

Thanks very nice blog!

Emery wrote:
08.23.14 at 6:48 AM

You actually make it seem really easy with your presentation however I find this matter
to be really one thing that I believe I would by no means understand.
It seems too complex and extremely vast for me. I'm looking forward
for your next post, I'll attempt to get the cling of it!

08.23.14 at 10:47 AM

I'm extremely pleased to find this page. I want to to
thank you for ones time for this particularly wonderful
read!! I definitely loved every part of it and i
also have you book marked to see new things in your web site.

08.23.14 at 11:33 AM

What's up friends, its fantastic article regarding teachingand fully explained, keep
it up all the time.

08.23.14 at 6:40 PM

This is important to reiterate what you have a team to arrange them accordingly.
After that this appreciation is not only to explain your
point, the company staff and you should know how to get essay
writing your essay. Essays sounds like a subject can also
give you space to describe a couple of different styles
to our website and fill an online proofreading and critiquing.

08.24.14 at 12:38 AM

Everyone loves it whenever people get together and
share views. Great site, continue the good work!

08.24.14 at 1:27 AM

Great beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend your site, how could i subscribe for a blog web site?
The account helped me a acceptable deal.I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear idea

08.24.14 at 5:33 AM

I have been surfing online more than 4 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.
It's pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all web owners and
bloggers made good content as you did, the web
will be much more useful than ever before.

To add to that, these recipes are also designed to help your body fight
what is known to be the metabolic adaptation phenomenon. Mix the
ingredients in a small bowl until evenly combined and set aside
for grilling. You will need to obtain the following ingredients to make one
gallon of liquid goat's milk soap:.

Savannah wrote:
08.24.14 at 10:32 AM

I am extremely inspired together with your writing
skills and also with the structure to your weblog.
Is this a paid topic or did you modify it your self?
Either way keep up the excellent high quality writing, it
is uncommon to peer a nice weblog like this one nowadays..

Marlys wrote:
08.24.14 at 7:57 PM

These might even be honey, smooth peanut butter, jam or marmalade, curry source, crab paste,
tomato puree, liquidised fruits or liquidised liver; look into why you are doing this and why you
are choosing these substances (see my ebooks. Mix the ingredients in a
small bowl until evenly combined and set aside for grilling.
) In this regard you might think that nutritional
de-hulled hemp seed bars or hemp oil would be a good thing for everyone - but this is far from being the truth.

Wow, this article is pleasant, my sister is analyzing such things, so I am going to tell her.

Hydroxycut wrote:
08.25.14 at 3:13 PM

I'm not sure wwhy but this web site is loading very slopw for me.
Is anyone else having this problem or is it a issue on my end?
I'll check back later on and see if the problem still

08.26.14 at 4:27 AM

Does your blog have a contact page? I'm having trouble locating it but, I'd like to
send you an email. I've got some recommendations for your blog you might be interested in hearing.
Either way, great website and I look forward to seeing it develop over time.

08.26.14 at 6:39 AM

That'd suggest I Would need to understand where he
wasn't, where I knew he was even when he wasn't.

Consult - Ask yourself that which you really would like. Dang that's
such a manga that is great!

08.26.14 at 6:54 AM

hello!,I love your writing very a lot! proportion we
be in contact more about your post on AOL? I require an expert on this space to unravel my
problem. Maybe that's you! Having a look forward to see you.

08.26.14 at 7:15 AM

Remarkable issues here. I'm very happy to peer your article.
Thanks so much and I'm taking a look forward to contact you.
Will you please drop me a mail?

08.26.14 at 6:18 PM

With havin so much content do you ever run into
any problems of plagorism or copyright infringement?

My site has a lot of completely unique content I've either written myself or outsourced but it
looks like a llot of it is popping it up all over the internet without myy
agreement. Do you know any solutions to help stop content from
being stolen? I'd truly appreciate it.

08.26.14 at 9:42 PM

The perfect answer to this matter because under some circumstances they can get with debt settlement program is the internet, the person who borrows money from taxpayers, these grants
run into trouble. When carried debt settlement services out
appropriately, a big benefit to help educate Americans on credit card debt was settled.

08.26.14 at 10:51 PM

This page definitely has all the info I needed concerning this subject and didn't know who to ask.

08.27.14 at 4:17 AM

My brother suggested I might like this web site. He was entirely right.
This post actually made my day. You cann't imagine simply
how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

08.27.14 at 4:40 AM

Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thanks, However I am experiencing difficulties with your RSS.
I don't understand the reason why I am unable to join it.
Is there anybody else getting the same RSS problems? Anyone that knows the answer can you kindly
respond? Thanks!!

08.27.14 at 5:04 AM

Appreciating the time and effort you put into your website
and in depth information you present. It's nice to come
across a blog every once in a while that isn't the same out of date
rehashed material. Excellent read! I've saved your site and I'm
adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

Lan wrote:
08.27.14 at 11:07 PM

Hey there, I think your site might be having browser compatibility issues.

When I look at your blog in Opera, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it
has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up!
Other then that, fantastic blog!

08.27.14 at 11:19 PM

I read this paragraph completely concerning the comparison of most up-to-date and preceding
technologies, it's amazing article.

Comment on this entry

(will not be published)
(optional -- Google will not follow)

Type the characters you see in the picture above.

Pre-Order My Book!

small_final_covershot_dropshadow.jpg A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.

Follow Me On:

Twitter Facebook Pinterest Instagram Delectable Flipboard

Most Recent Entries

Earthquake Rattles Napa Harvest NIMBY Versus Vineyard in Malibu Vinography Images: Precious Droplets MORIC: The Apogee of Blaufränkisch 2014 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend: August 29-21, Healdsburg, CA The (Still) Dismal State of California Chardonnay What a Way to Go: Wine At the End of Your Life Vinography Images: Into the Tank 72 Pinot Noirs on a Sunny Afternoon: Tasting at IPNC 2014 The Great White South: An Introduction to Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc

Favorite Posts From the Archives

Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo, Toyama Prefecture Wine.Com Gives Retailers (and Consumers) the Finger 1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais, Burgundy Wine Over Time The Better Half of My Palate 1999 Királyudvar "Lapis" Tokaji Furmint, Hungary What's Allowed in Your Wine and Winemaking Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Appreciating Wine in Context The Soul vs. The Market 1989 Fiorano Botte 48 Semillion,Italy

Archives by Month


Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.