First Bite: Sweet Woodruff

First Bite: Sweet Woodruff


Now that 7x7 is firmly settled in its new South Park HQ, I've gotten over the shock of suddenly having fewer lunch options tempting me each and every midday than we did in our old Union Square offices.

When Sweet Woodruff, the new casual lunch spot from the family behind Sons & Daughters, opened recently on Sutter Street, my heart went pitty pat for our old neighborhood.

One look at its menu (cleaved into "savory" and "sweet" sections), and I knew a hefty taste test lay in my future.

Its high ceilings, sprawling windows and open kitchen lend the space an intimate yet sophisticated feel, especially for a mostly to-go joint with limited seating–and indeed, everyone there was calmly enjoying their break from the daily grind–but I whisked my food back to my desk to examine unhindered by the seductive environs of the restaurant.

The guinea hen hot pocket (grown-up stoner food?), a golden, flaky puff pastry stuffed with tender fowl, peas and carrots was crispy and flavorful bite after bite, especially with the punch of their housemade Tapatio.

It took only one taste of their delicate, olive oil-laced cream of parsley root soup to want to high dive right in. It wasn't heavy-handed like you might expect a cream-based soup to be; you could taste the earthiness of the parsley root in between the nutty crunch of toasted pine nuts and the light sweetness of the golden raisins sprinkled throughout. I'm thinking two of these might be in order next time.

Turns out making sandwiches that travel well is a harder task than it sounds. The mushroom sandwich, which was packed full of warm maitakes and truffly Sottocenere cheese, was umami at its finest. But eat it quickly, before the juicy mushrooms render the bread soggy.

The suckling pig sandwich was heavy on the dill and littered with thickly cut briny pickles–an odd combination of textures and flavors that reminded me of seafood. Finally, the leg of lamb sandwich was delightful thanks to hefty, tender cuts of meat, a nice cilantro kick and tart chunks of feta. But the bread it was enveloped in was so dry that having to bite through it distracted me from what lay between.

Each comes made on a ciabatta-like loaf with a neat pile of dressed greens and a pair of long, crisp, perfectly pickled carrots. If you need a sweet bite to top it all off, be sure to pick up a square slice of their custardy banana cream pie.

798 Sutter Street, 415-292-9090, @sweetwoodruffsf

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