A Tinderbox Outing

A Tinderbox Outing
The well-appointed interior of Bernal Height’s Tinderbox

We recently had the enjoyment of eating at the new digs of Tinderbox. It’s a restaurant in the Bernal Heights area of San Francisco that is wedged in the middle of a burgeoning gourmet ghetto. The dishes are focused around that growing genre of food called, “New American”, which, as was the case at Tinderbox, means new twists on old dishes that surprise you in new ways.

The avocado cutlet

The menu has been coupled together with a very unique and tasty wine list compiled by the sommelier and general manager, Omar White. It includes a good number of Blue Danube Wine selections like the exotic Juris St. Laurent from Austria, an unoaked Hungarian Szõke Chardonnay, and the indigenous Pošip Marco Polo from the Croatian island of Korcula among others.

We started with a nice Dolcetto to warm up our palates. It was inviting and light, yet still flavorful and enjoyable to sip with our appetizers. It also had the ability to not trounce the fact that one of us had the grilled sardine appetizer.

frank omar
Omar tops off Frank Dietrich

From there, we split off with a glass of white for the cod and a bottle of Bura Dingač for the game hen, steak, and avocado cutlet. All of these dishes were delicious, but it was the last of which on that list was the most remarkable. The server summed it up best by saying, “Who knew you could grill an avocado?” Who indeed, but it works. It really, really works and when paired with a nice, deep-bodied red wine, it only works to amplify it.

Dessert was a lovely affair as well. Everything we had was paired with a very nice Five Puttonyos Tokaji. The sweetness of this Hungarian dessert wine was not overpowering to our closing dishes and once again, worked to complement not fight with the complexity of the desserts.

Tokaji to finish

We found the atmosphere of the restaurant to be very nice and fit well with what we look for in a place to dine. The service isn’t snooty, just knowledgeable and helpful, which is a welcome change to a great many restaurants in The City. It’s also good to see that the establishment caters to people eating in groups (we were four) and those dining solo with a small, adjunct room just up a small set of stairs in the back. The crowd seems to fill in from about 8:30-10, but with a recent review in the SF Chronicle, the crowd is bound to come earlier and leave later. And naturally if this isn’t enough word of mouth for you, read up on what others are saying these days.