My trips to Russian Hill are few and far between because I do my best to avoid the hills, as I mainly bike around the city. Even though Stones Throw is more than just a stones throw away from my house, it is well worth peddling through the rolling hills of San Francisco to get there. This Californian/American inspired eatery hosts hungry patrons in a comfortable and jovial space and serves a smorgasbord of tasty dishes that are easy to share. Warm lighting, ample spacing between tables, and moderate noise levels make this is the perfect spot for a noteworthy night out in the city.
The dishes are not rustic in style, as they are unique to anything else you will eat when dining out in SF. The food is whimsical and unique in character, but the underlying goal of the chef is simply to make tasty food. We shared a variety of items from the selective seasonal menu over a bottle of fruity and acidic Riesling. Playing with shapes, flavors, and tones, every dish had a lot of personality.
We started with the puffed potato and eggs with cauliflower mousse, chives, and crispy chicken skin. The puffed, luscious potato balls where filled with a creamy egg center and meticulously laid on a bed of slaw confetti. Easy to admire and fun to eat, there is no wonder why this is a crowd pleaser and something nearly everyone orders off of the menu.
Next we tried the grilled octopus & okonomyaki with bacon dashi. This cabbage-based pancake dish tasted different from any okonomyaki I had in Japan, however like the food in Japan, the chef executed the gorgeous presentation. The texture and thickness of the okonomyaki was alikened to a crab cake, yet surprisingly the pancake contained no meat. The dish was paired with some pickled condiments, which added a touch of bright acidity.
We then had a house special, the squid ink conchiglie pasta. This is the one dish that will never come off of the menu because it has always been their best seller. The ebony colored pasta shells had calimari-esque rings around it. The chef mixed in the conchiglie with shrimp, clams, calamari, spicy capers, and tender greens, giving it a remarkable mouthfeel.
For a main course, we shared the crispy-skinned wild virginia striped bass with Shrimp-Daikon Cake, Farro, and Kohlrabi. The attentive staff poured the ramen-style miso broth over the bass, just after they set it down on the table. This finishing touch preserved the integrity of the crispy fish skin, and added a bit of heat to resurge the greens nestled beneath the bass.
I especially enjoyed the Musquee de Provence Agnolotti with brussels sprouts, delicata squash, and thyme-parmesan broth. Squash too easily wins my heart, especially delicata squash which has a tender skin that can be eaten as well. Trying the delicata squash in this new way completely won me over. The fragrance of the broth and the creaminess of the squash stuffed inside the delicate noodles are just a few of the things that I loved about this dish.
An indulgent finish to our spectacular meal was the fig clafoutis. Not overly sweet, this custard-like fig dish with fresh cream put us over the edge into a heavily food abyss.