People Are Talking About 3rd Cousin Restaurant on Cortland


Recently, during a stroll on Cortland Avenue, your Bernalwood editor ran into Neighbor David. It was a sunny day, and Neighbor David was in grand spirits, because, he said, he was still high from the amazing dinner he’d had the night before at 3rd Cousin.

As you may recall, 3rd Cousin is the new restaurant at 919 Cortland, that used to be a popup called Kinfolk. 3rd Cousin is owned and run by Chef Greg Lutes, and as with every culinary entrepreneur, his effort to open 3rd Cousin in a permanent location has been an arduous labor of love and obsession. 919 Cortland used to be home to the somewhat less stylish Pizza Express, but now Chef Greg has transformed it into a casual venue for his elegant food with Michelin star aspirations. Crazy, right?

Anyway, when I bumped into him, Neighbor David gushed about the food at 3rd Cousin, which he described as being thoughtful and well-prepared but not too fussy. He said the prices at 3d Cousin are a on the higher side, but the quality of experience made it a worthy indulgence every once in a while.  And he said the desserts were mind-blowing.


Hmmmmmmm! I thought.

Then, just a few days later, San Francisco Magazine published an article about “Four Restaurants We’re Crazy For.” 3rd Cousin was at the top of the list:

3rd Cousin
Bernal Heights
At the brick-and-mortar incarnation of his erstwhile Kinfolk pop-up, Greg Lutes serves cozy seasonal fare in an austere charcoal-gray dining room. A robust salad of baby mustard greens comes garnished with persimmon, garrotxa cheese, and dehydrated batons of purple yam, while grilled swordfish is rendered addictive by a shower of dukka, an Egyptian spice blend. Lutes’s strengths are best showcased in his savory uni crème brûlée: The caviar-topped number proves that you can teach an old dessert new, and impressive, tricks.

Frankly, I only understood about half of that.

But the point is, when both the critics and an actual man-on-the-street are talking about 3rd Cousin, that’s a strong indication something special is going on there. I’m looking forward to trying it out.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

40 thoughts on “People Are Talking About 3rd Cousin Restaurant on Cortland

  1. ha ha, i probably understood less of that than you did. what a crock of pretentious b.s. consistent with the snotty Yuppie fathers-with-kids-on-their-abdomens-while-Mommy-lies-in-bed-waiting-for-her-complicated coffee drink in a disposable container-happy-with-the-status-quo takeover of what used to be a nice neighborhood. (well, Pizza Express was never any good either).

    • Comments about yuppies and gentrification and fancy coffee notwithstanding, Pizza Express is still on Cortland… just a block or 2 to the west.

      • Don’t be mad at Carl…he’s still healing from his father blaming his generation for the Civil Rights Movement and letting women vote.

    • Will probably check it out, primarily out of curiosity. BTW, Pizza Express is a favorite in this household. Everything doesn’t have to be “stylish”!

      • But it is bad tasting pizza though, Pizza Express. You really order food based upon tenure? I bet you don’t.

      • Kenny, myself, my family, as well as our friends, happen to like the taste of the pizza. Not sure what makes it different, but it is a difference we really enjoy and is unique. Taste bud of the beholder, I guess…

      • Re: Pizza Express, fair enough! We’ve tried it twice and did not like it at all. But once my kid gets old enough I might be singing a different tune.

  2. The one aspect of mind-blowing you neglected to mention are the prices. I haven’t eaten there, but when I asked a gourmand neighbor what they thought, they saw fit to mention that .

    • Actually, he did mention the prices and said they were on the higher side but a worthy indulgence “once in a while” . He also posted a picture of the menu *with prices*.

    • Hmmm. I have two kids and a job but won’t be eating there. I’ve met Greg and sure enough he is a nice guy. It would be nice if the restaurant was more accessible to people without disposable incomes.

      • And vegetarians.

        I remember a time when SF actually stood out for catering to vegetarians like my family.,,

        …barely. It was around the time you could buy a house in Bernal without being old money, new money, or international money.

      • Chefs and restaurant owners shouldn’t be surprised when they go out of business after not having a good well thought out set of vegetarian options on their menu. There’s a ton of “hot” / “hip” and expensive restaurants that I’ll either never go to or go once with a group never to return.

        Steamed veggies over rice or some bean cake that the chef would never eat themselves are a good way to keep away a small but not insubstantial portion of your business.

        Many of the new places on Mission are guilty of this as well.

        (that said, it looks like there’s a least a couple decent looking veg options on the menu)

      • You don’t have to be a vegan restaurant to offer more than one grudging afterthought entree and one appetizer to the vegetarian friends of your primary audience.

        N years ago, San Francisco restaurants at every tier stood out from national norms in actively catering to vegetarian, even vegan, customers.

        The current tone deafness is hardly unique to this place. (E.g. also true of B Star, and the new Japanese places on Mission.)

        The loss of that distinction is one of the less appealing hallmarks of the remaking of SF as Manhattan-by-the-Sea.

  3. Those are some real stiff prices… welcome to the Newish Cortland! Pizza Express are good people, I’m glad they survived the outrageous rent increase (that brought us this latest Gentrification Station) and were able to survive up the street. No Thank You! Feel free to go out of business in a few months.

  4. I just cannot believe the meanness and obnoxiousness of so many of the comments here. I sure hope you anonymous folks aren’t raising children to behave this way towards their neighbors.

  5. When I last ate at this restaurant I looked around and observed the beautiful space and the healthy # of employees who now have jobs because this restaurant now exists. It’s a great place that helps to create a lively economy on cortland st. Are the prices high? Yup. The chef obviously puts his heart and soul and hard work into his business. Hopefully he lives locally and through this business can now afford to stay here contributing to the community, employing other community members. Not all high prices are due to greed! Sometimes people just deserve to be paid what they’re worth. I can only afford to eat here from time to time, but I’m glad it exists.

  6. Some ways of preparing and serving food are going to be more expensive. Given the nature of the ingredients I’m sure the food costs, and the number of employees, are much higher than average for a restaurant that size.

    Because it is expensive, I’m unlikely to dine there often (or at all), but there are reasons for those prices. Even with those prices it can be difficult to have much of a profit margin in a small place like that.

  7. We absolutely loved our dinner there! Wish he was open for lunch!
    He is a beloved Chef and adds to our Bernal Fold! Shame on you all who are grouseing about Chef Greg or his Restaurant!

    • He may be beloved by you, but I don’t think you and I have the same values. I happen to think that the chef should be ashamed to serve the liver of a tortured duck.

      • It will always seem faintly ridiculous to me to single out restaurants that serve foie gras when so much of the meat served in restaurants all over is produced under equally cruel conditions.

        (There is the humanely raised, totally-free range stuff, of course, which naturally comes with a higher price – a price which would inspire the other complainers in this section to jump in and complain about it being too expensive and bougey.)

      • @BP
        I’ve been vegetarian for 16 years. I agree with you for the most part, but foie gras is beyond the pale. Unconscionable.

      • With all due respect, you aren’t being moral or righteous. In case it’s never been pointed out to you before, you are anthropomorphizing and/or making a personal choice that should remain personal.

        Choose your life:

        1) Never born because your tasty liver is not wanted.

        2) Live on a farm being fed extremely large portions in a way that APPEARS painful, but is actually little different from your own non-human eating mechanics, and which you cannot experience as torture–even if it did cause pain–because you have no consciousness.

        3) Be born in the wild, where you will die of parasitism, disease, starvation or by being chased down, ripped apart and/or eaten alive by a fanged and clawed predator because that’s how nature works. The one thing you will not die of is old age.

        I choose #2.

        Meat is the only food humans can digest. We can’t digest plant or fungal material. The bacteria that live symbiotically in our guts digest the plant material we eat. The bacteria then excrete nutrients we can absorb. (They also excrete significant amounts of methane we cannot absorb, and so release into the atmosphere.)

        Organ meats are many times more nutritious than muscle meat or plant material. And they don’t increase your personal production of greenhouse gases.


  8. hey sometimes, you like a little Pizza Express (get thin crust, it’s much better pizza that way), and sometimes you like a little uni creme brulee. Ok, maybe not that, sounds a bit too Iron Chef-y. But I’m glad both places can co-exist and hope it can stay that way.

  9. We ate there about a month or so ago. It was fine, although I don’t remember much about what I ate. We had an 8pm reservation on a Friday night and were seated 45 minutes later. The woman at the front of the house, Chef Greg’s partner in the restaurant, was very apologetic and comped our dessert. I have been accused by friends of being “not a foodie” so perhaps I’m not the best person to offer an informed opinion of this restaurant. I wish Chef Greg the best of luck, though…just because I wasn’t wild about my meal at 3rd Cousin doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve to succeed.

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