Restaurant Critic Michael Bauer Dines at Hillside Supper Club and Stars Are Issued

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San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer came to Bernal Heights to sample the fare at the new, permanent, and already popular Hillside Supper Club.

The Bauer explored the menu. The Bauer ate. The Bauer observed. And in the end, The Bauer awarded Hillside Supper Club two  stars (out of a possible four). The Bauer’s review was loving but firm:

Owners [Tony Ferrari and Jonathan Sutton] clearly have vision and talent, but could use an editor; in some cases, the embellishments diminish the effect on such otherwise excellent combinations as handmade cavatelli with lamb sugo. I loved it until I got a sweet, acidic burst of pickled pomegranate. A fresh contrast is always nice on a long-cooked sauce, but in this case the effect was jolting.

[…]

Yet for all its minor flaws in food and service, the room was packed with customers and goodwill. Hillside feels like a club – a neighborhood gathering place in an underserved residential area. In the end, that’s what counts.

PHOTO: HSC Chefs Tony Ferrari (left) and Jonathan Sutton. By John Storey for the San Francisco Chronicle

13 thoughts on “Restaurant Critic Michael Bauer Dines at Hillside Supper Club and Stars Are Issued

  1. Echos my experience.. Some challenges with the food, more with the service. But maybe with some more time and experience they can get it on track.

  2. Wow. Good going Tony, John & Greg! Overall it was a fine first review from Maestro Bauer (who referenced multiple visits to the Club). Later when he gives you the over-the-top rave review you will surely earn I’m betting you guys will be ready for the impact.

  3. I’d like to see a bit more diversity on the menu. Specifically, I’d like to see them add a couple more “less adventurous” entres (such as an awesome burger and a delicious roast chicken) because sometimes I just want something traditional but good.

    Now if they’re just re-do the exterior a bit to make it more obvious it’s not the same old place.
    Glad they’ve been doing well. It’s always packed at dinnertime.

    (Now imagine if they replaced the front windows with big glass doors that they could open up on warm days, kind of like Asiento bar on 21st and Bryant.)

    • Totally agree – a burger and/or roasted chicken would be a great addition to the menu! I’m sure they could put their own spin on it, too.

    • Agreed! It would be great if they had a burger- and a few options that were a bit more affordable. Nothing has really taken the place of Locavore’s burger, now that they are gone.

  4. I agree they are a great addition to the neighborhood. But plan to go early: When others arrive, the chatter becomes much too loud for pleasant conversation.

  5. I think Bauer hit the nail on the head in this review. I want to love Hillside, but it’s hit or miss – to the point where I’ve sort of lost interest as the hits built up. The flavors can really be off. (As an example, I once had a small cup of their lobster bisque when they were serving in Infusion Gallery at the holiday Cortland street party and it was so overpowering and oddly flavored, it took my taste buds a while to recover.) But it’s a super-convenient location for us and some dishes, early in the pop-up days were quite enjoyable. I’m sincerely hoping they take Bauer’s constructive criticsm to heart. I was not surprised to read the comment about the pomegranate. I feel that they go way too far with the fruit in the savory dishes. This can be absolutely lovely when done right, sadly – to my palate they often do it wrong. It’s often too strong and completely distracts.

  6. This is exactly the kind of restaurant North Slope needs. I love the youthful energy and how the place lights up the corner at night. They could really do without the “liberty” duck (not sure how a duck confined to a box for her whole life is ever “free”) with something vegetarian. That menu item really turns us off and, being vegetarians, we usually pick the places we go out to eat with friends. I feel like they keep it on the menu for street cred, but no one really loves it.

    I’m really impressed with how they worked with the interior on a shoestring budget. The place will get spiffed when they have the cash-flow. I would love to help with that if they’d just take the insanely cruel meat off their menu. Not starting a debate about meat here. Just suggesting they spend their time and efforts on a more universally appealing menu item.

  7. Is it fair to judge a restaurant like this before the sign is even up?

    The review offers a two page litany of mostly minor,fixable complaints followed by one sentence at the very end that concedes that Sutton and Ferrari actually got the hardest part right.

    Anyone can find a way to keep Michael’s pickles firm and to stock versatile wines, but few can do what Tony and Jonathan have done: build a neighborhood restaurant that neighbors actually care about.

    Awesome job Tony and Jonathan!

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