Despite what you may have heard, the apple does not fall far from the tree. In this case, the tree is Boulevard, and the apple is the long-awaited sequel restaurant, Prospect. Boulevard holds down the corner of Stewart and Mission streets, serving precisely executed dishes that feature local bounty to diners with a little coin to throw around. Two blocks away and nearly two decades after Boulevard’s opening, Prospect is doing the same.
Prospect’s chef, Ravi Kapur, has spent the past eight years training at Boulevard under chefs Nancy Oakes and Pam Mazzola. He’s young and spirited, and the team gave us every indication that the food he serves at Prospect would be different—more modern, more inventive—from his alma mater’s. That it isn’t, really, is no failure. I can’t remember if I’ve ever eaten more perfectly cooked petrale sole, set on a butter bean mousseline and garnished with chanterelle mushrooms. The same skill is evident in a black cod starter (pictured above), sauced in a subtle red curry that complements the delicate fish without dominating it. Like Boulevard, the menu as a whole melds classic technique with California ingredients, and while it may look similar to others around town, the execution is a cut above. It’s a fine reminder: Not every chef has nuance mastered, but Kapur does.
What is fresh and modern is the design of the restaurant. The enormous dining room has generously spaced, bare wood tables—tablecloths are clearly so 2009—set with smoky-gray water glasses. It’s 180 degrees from the Gallic Art Deco stylings of Boulevard and speaks to the new face of San Francisco dining—high-level food served without pomp and circumstance, a more casual concept intended to draw a younger crowd. The cocktail program is evidently part of that new directive. The bar dominates the entryway, with drinks created by longtime bartender Brooke Arthur. On a rare warm night, the Candace (vodka, white wine, cantaloupe, vanilla, and lime) is almost too refreshing. When it turns cold, look to the fortifying Prospector Thomas Waugh (named after the Alembic bartender who moved to New York to work at noted bar Death & Co.), a potent mix of Scotch, Madeira, benedictine, bitters, and burned orange peel. The bar is crowded nightly—first with a FiDi post-work crowd, later with restaurant industry folks stopping in for a bite and a strong libation.
As Kapur settles into his new role, I hope he’ll expand his menu to include dishes that are more left-of-center, combining his obvious technical skill with a forward-looking culinary sensibility—if only because he’s one of a few young SF chefs who could pull it off. If he does, Prospect will be among the first of a handful of restaurants—Benu and Commis among them—paving the way for a new dining future in the Bay Area.
300 Spear St., 415-247-7770, prospectsf.com