Things on mid-Market are certainly worlds different than they were just a few years ago. With the arrival of restaurants like Alta CA, Bon Marché, and The Perennial, the era when all you could get to eat between Union Square and Zuni was McDonald's or Ananda Fuara is over. Now enter Cadence, a polished and ambitious new spot from chef Joey Elenterio (Chez TJ, Wayfare Tavern) and Maven owner Jay Bordeleau, with cocktails by Chase Williamson (Maven, Nopa), which opened in January.
The space, as SF Weekly's Pete Kane noted earlier, feels a bit subterranean and jet-set, with its whale-rib arches over some booths, and mosaic-tiled "teacup" booths in the center of the dining room calling to mind a 1960s airport lounge. Regardless of how you feel about the aesthetics, the space transports you immediately out of San Francisco and a bit out of time.
The star of the show, however, is Elenterio's food, which is nuanced, boldly flavored, and surprising without seeming overwrought. Most notable may be the vegetarian chef's menu, wherein he does some wondrous stuff with a plate of glazed carrots and pickled walnuts, and an entree of braised beets and hen of the woods mushrooms far exceeds the sum of its parts.
The four-course "above ground" tasting menu is also very good and has its own surprises, like a simple dish of grass-fed ribeye with roasted sunchokes and mustard-brased kale; and a starter of Passmore ranch sturgeon served with its own caviar and a glass of Champagne.
Beverage pairings may be cocktails or wine, and like at Maven great attention is given to how well the pairings complement and elevate the food.
Additionally, Cadence is offering a brief a la carte menu with few appetizers and entrées, like a half roast chicken and an intriguing sounding dish of miso-braised beef cheeks and after dinner, or before, you can head to the attached bar that faces Fell Street at the back, Mr. Tipple's Recording Studio, where the night I was there a jazz duo was performing.
While Alta may be catering to young tech workers and luxury apartment renters with adventurous tastes for cocktails, Cadence looks to be giving the neighborhood a new date spot, or celebration spot, and if prices stay where they are it won't break the bank either the four-course chef's menu is only $55 a person without pairings, which makes it about as good a deal, if not better food-wise, as the classic bistro prix fixe at Cafe Claude, which is $45.
For budgetary reasons, SFist editors and contributors occasionally accept complimentary meals from restaurants and their publicists. More often, we pay out of pocket for our meals. While we refrain from writing formal reviews, we make every effort when giving opinions about restaurants to be objective, and to focus more on food and ambiance than service in order to make up for any possible bias.