On Sunday I checked out the yakitori grilled streetside by Pink Zebra's owner/chef Jesse Koide at Sutton Cellars in Dogpatch. I'd been lured here by some mouthwatering instagram shots. Parked right around the corner, I could smell the smoke and sizzling meat as soon as I opened my car door. But alas, the final chicken and chicken heart skewers on the grill were already sold. I was too late for the tori action.
Then Carl Sutton returned from his quick reconnoiter at Olivier's Butchery across the street to report that hanger steak and pork neck were available there. I expressed my enthusiasm for trying the pork neck. But once again, the desired cut was sold out from under me. Chef told us that a female customer ahead of him grabbed it ahead of him. He did return with hanger steak: plain, rosemary/garlic, and chipotle-marinated. I ordered a skewer of each. The plain steak was brushed with tare, the others I asked for without. I did not care for Olivier's chipotle seasoning, but I did like the rosemary quite a bit especially because it was more transparent for the grilled notes. Koide's tare (sauce) was quite delectable, not too sweet, and showed well on the perfectly grilled, rare and tender beef cubes. I'd like to taste it on chicken some time.
On this sunny but cold and windy day, I positioned myself downwind of the grill to catch the warmth of the fire. I was covered in fine ash and marinated with the scent of meat. Hanging out at the grill was also a chance to chat with Koide and find out what he's up to next. He no longer has a regular location for his Mediterrasian pop up, having moved out of Tao Yin in the fall. He will be doing wine dinners at Namu Gaji for the next few months, featuring different European DOs and regional flavors with his own twist. And he'll be back at Sutton Cellars later this month. He promised an update of his event schedule on his website soon.
This was my first visit to Sutton Cellars. I'd not seen Carl since he moved to San Francisco from Sonoma County six years ago. He was pouring the 2008 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir from magnum, and I had a taste of his Vermouth too.