Chef Sean Baker and two other associates opened Verbena last December promising an artisan approach to food through a broad reach of ingredients, techniques and sources. Press about the new restaurant describes an inviting warm atmosphere, ambitious menu serving locally sourced vegetables, and an interesting cocktail and wine list. We recently visited the Russian Hill neighborhood and dined at the new establishment to gauge how much truth was in the media hype. Below is a summary of our review.
Exterior, Interior and Ambiance
Noble Bay Cocktail (Rye, Apple Brandy, Vermouth, Bay Laurels, Bitters)
Meatballs Braised in Black Mole (Chard, Hominy, Whey)
Pork Sausage (Peas and Fava Leaves, Nettle Broth, Lardo)
Swordfish (Nasturtium and Fermented Lime Curry, English Peas, Clams)
Molasses Ginger Cake (Carrot Sorbet, IPA Caramel)
Verbena has a good thing going. Each entree seemed inspired from the notion that food should be celebrated for its singularity, freshness and healthiness. There was a noticeable lack of heavy oils, fried dishes, rice or other unhealthy ingredients that are commonly found at restaurants in the same price points. $106 for our two person dining experience might seem unreasonably expensive, but given the quality of food, the cost was justified. It takes a lot of energy and thoughtfulness to maintain an ambitious seasonal menu presented by Verbena. The question remains whether they can keep up such standards. We’ll come back in an year to find out.