First Bite: The Corner Store
Prior to opening The Corner Store, chef and co-owner Nick Adams told me he wanted to offer one of the best burgers in San Francisco. In a restaurant world where places ranging from Spruce to Tony's Cable Car are gunning for this title, naturally, I was skeptical.
Now, three weeks after opening, Adams is having a problem with the same burger. "We've been doing our best to keep it stocked on a day-to-day basis, but it's been quite a challenge...It's certainly been our top seller." He estimates they've been going through 100 to 125 per day.
I'm inclined to believe Adams this time around, because I almost didn't get to sink my teeth into the juicy wonder when I visited on Sunday. Ten minutes after ordering, the bartender informed me that they were out of stock, and he would provide another entree on the house to make up for it. Five minutes later, one of the cooks came over to let me know they had found a bun. It was a typical opening hiccup that ended well.
Minutes later, the Corner Store Burger ($12) arrived. At first glance, it appears on the smallish side, more on par with the judiciously sized patties sold at Magnolia and Slow Club. See above: It's a Niman Ranch chuck patty, piled onto a pan de mie bun from Bakers of Paris. Adams cooked mine to a spot-on, juicy medium rare. The meat gained further moisture, richness and depth from a spunky garlic aioli and aged cheddar. Housemade bread-and-butter pickles and balsamic-rosemary pickled red onions provide layers of acidity to cut the fat. And then—because, why not?—homemade, vinegar-laced bacon jam. The burger was so robust and intoxicating that I almost didn't register a comparatively weak pile of shoestrings at its side.
There's also a bracing wedge salad ($8) to distract from that. With red-wine pickled shallots, candied smoked Kurobuta bacon, and Pt. Reyes original blue cheese, it's a slightly fancified, complexly flavored twist on the original.
Looking around The Corner Store on our visit, other customers are scraping the bottom of a bowl of thick tomato soup, or getting lost in the gaze of a Mary's roast chicken. I walk away sure this restaurant is giving the odd intersection of Geary and Masonic Avenues precisely what it needs. The restaurant will get busier, sell out of burgers again, and my own repeat visit will be part of a very good problem to have.
The Corner Store, 5 Masonic Avenue, 415-359-1800