Restaurant review: The Morris by Paul Einbund in Potrero Flats, San Francisco
A flavour-packed gem with the friendliest vibe in Potrero Flats
At first glance, I was very intrigued by The Morris. I had walked five minutes to get to the restaurant, as I’d been hanging out and doing some work at Tartine Manufactory, and enjoyed checking out the neighbourhood. Potrero Flats is traditionally a working class neighbourhood but has been gentrifying if Tartine and Heath Ceramics setting up there is any indication. But overall the neighbourhood seems nice and chill. Lots of wide open streets with only the occasional person / cool place dotted here and there. So when I arrived at the restaurant, I was charmed by the exterior which looks like a quaint hole-in-the-wall diner. A well-reviewed New American restaurant was in there? Awesome!
The Morris is located in what used to be Slow Club, one of the area’s first cool restaurants when it opened in 1991. When the owner decided to sell, she did so to a sommelier named Paul Einbund who wanted to open a restaurant named after his father. It opened in late 2016 and quickly became known for its huge wine list (naturally) and many nose-to-tail treats.
I was the first in my party to arrive and used the extra time to take photos of the space. Since a good half or so of the meals I eat out are media / blogger tastings, taking loads of photos at meals has become second nature. Hong Kong restaurants are quite used to snap happy diners but I wasn’t sure about SF. “Sorry!” I said to the amused staff, with what I hoped was a bashful look. “I’m being a tourist.” The main guy at the front (who I later realized was, I think, Einbund himself) couldn’t have been more friendly, jokingly posing for photos and saying something about how they’re happy when people share on social media. It’s nice to feel welcomed and accepted when you’re worried you’re making an a** of yourself haha.
Anyway, onto the drinks and food!
Being a lightweight, I was very amused to see the option to order the house wine by the cm (US$1.50 per cm). Two cm for me please!
To start we had Tartine Bread with Beillevaire butter (US$5), the Duck Liver Mousse (US$10), and the Shiitake Profiteroles (US$3 each). I thought everything was quite good, though none of the dishes stood out as a must order.
Moving onto the ‘First Course’ section of the menu, we first had the Asparagus Salad with nasturtium (a peppery-tasting flower) and meyer lemon (US$16). Loved how this was executed; nicely charred with fresh, interesting flavours.
Then we tried the Charred Broccoli with grilled squid and chili lime (US$16). This was one of the best dishes of the night. Very spicy, and with a great mix of sweet and bitter notes.
From the ‘Main Course’ section we, surprisingly for a table of meat lovers, opted for the Yuba with asparagus, peas, artichokes and black garlic (US$28). This resembled a pasta dish with the yuba ribbons acting as silky, smooth noodles. Great flavours and definitely a dish I’d reorder.
But what we were all waiting for was the signature Smoked Duck (US$70 for half a duck) which is brined, aged, smoked and roasted and supposed to be worth every penny… and it does cost a lot of pennies! It came out presented simply but perfectly in that it just showcased crispy-skinned pieces of duck on a homestyle platter. While it wasn’t bad, I personally didn’t think it was worth the price tag as the meat was not super tender.
We also tried the off-menu burger (price on request). Sadly, that was also a bit underwhelming, perhaps too dense though the fried fingerling potatoes with the tart garlic sauce was addictive.
During our meat-y courses, our waitress came over to gift us with some Grilled Duck Heart Skewers (US$4 each) to make up for needing to move our reservation from lunch to dinner (they’d recently decided to stop offering lunch). It was a nice gesture and lucky one for us because these hearts were delicious! They were very fresh, and had a lovely sweet glaze and tender texture.
We ended our meal with some bouncy Buckwheat Doughnuts with whiskey creme anglaise (US$10). An indulgent yet surprisingly light treat that was a great end to the meal.
While not every dish was ‘blow my mind’ good, I think the overall experience was great. The food is all at least good (with the duck hearts, yuba, and grilled veg dishes being standouts for me), and the vibe is chill and friendly. There’s something about restaurants with heart, ones able to make their guests feel welcome and taken care of. It’s not an easy thing to do and I think the ones that get it right deserve to be supported. I’d love to visit The Morris again next time I’m in SF. Also, I don’t think they offer it at the moment but I bet they could put on a great brunch.
2501 Mariposa St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA, +1 415-612-8480