The Corner Store opened to much fanfare about a month or so ago and like most new places that get a lot of press and are new dinners there have been a crowded affair. So it was that I decided to give it a try for brunch instead. Usually places that just open don't fall into the brunch thing (which is really a requirement if you are going to be a restaurant in San Francisco) but it is up and running there and I figure it won't be so boisterous.
Based in the former Da Hukilau Bar and Grill space at the corner of Geary and Masonic, they've turned it into a a cute open space with covered outdoor seating which is helpful as this isn't a big space. Though the whole white tile and dark wood interior thing seems to be the new trend in decorating these days. Brunch is a limited menu here but the choices are interesting and I decided to go out on a limb and try the duck and grits.
Cheddar grits, confit of duck leg meat, braised greens, a poached egg and something they call chow-chow. To pull out a term used by many highfalutin food reviewers this dish actually had layers of flavor--so let's start at the top. Chow-chow seems to be a mix of sweet red peppers and pickled purple cabbage--a pleasing blend of spicy, sweet and crunchy. Next is a poached egg which broke lovely yellow yoke over the whole dish. Then is the duck confit which was done with a slight crisp on the edges and still very tender and if I didn't know better had a taste similar to bacon because of it (maybe they immersed it in bacon fat?) and this was a good thing--I liked what the chef did to the duck. The greens were tender and slightly sweet and added some nice color contrast to the presentation. The grits were, well to be honest I'm gonna pull the South card and say they weren't exactly grits per se, more like a cheddar polenta due to the texture and consistency, but don't take that as a bad thing they were decent.
Separately these things were good, together they were really good and as a whole I thought the dish was tasty and well put together. If you are looking to nit pick about things I will say there wasn't much texture difference in the layers but the flavors more than make up for the lack of it.
I really only had two qualms with the place. First they charge $3 for a glass of tea, granted you get free refills but seriously $2 should be the limit, this was basic tea not something special and I know what food costs are and this is on the high side. Also the place wasn't particularly busy when I got there but for whatever reason it took nearly 20 minutes before I got my dish--2 other tables got their stuff before I did which is a restaurant pet peeve I have especially when it doesn't get acknowledged by the server and I have to go "um..where's my food?" I heard one of the bartenders tell a guest they've been slammed most every night for dinner so I can only hope or imagine they do better then.
Overall I liked this place and say it's worth a brunch shot if can get yourself out there. Based on this meal I still want to go back and try dinner sometime but I'll wait till the excitement dies down a bit and then go see if my tummy will leave happy like it did for brunch.