logoEat - Drink - Protest

A culture blog by Lauren Girardin, a San Francisco-based city girl who eats out and kicks about.

April 12, 2003

Urban Forage . . . . . . . . . . restaurant review

254 Fillmore Street at Haight, San Francisco

- Open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. - 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.
- Cash or credit card (Visa/Master Card/American Express/Discover)
- All organic, vegetarian, mostly vegan (limited use of bee products) and raw

Urban Forage's living foods are a perfect fit for the Lower Haight.

Patrons flow in and out of the sunny and small Urban Forage shop, stopping briefly to shoot an ounce of wheatgrass, or instead dawdling over a meal. Tanya Einhorn applies her traditional culinary training to preparing organic raw dishes enhanced by skillful sauces. Meanwhile, partner Steven Burbank plans the addition of The Hive at Urban Forage, a multi-leveled and multi-purpose space scheduled for a May grand opening. At The Hive, a new dining area will complement a larger menu, while yoga classes, yerba maté circles, and other events will be shared with the community.

Urban Forage makes fruit and vegetable elixirs to order, ranging from an uncomplicated orange juice (small $3.75, large $4.50) to the unique Fire Dragon (small $4.50, large $5.50), a piquant blending of carrot, ginger, apple, garlic, and cayenne. Singularly satisfying is being handed a Thai young coconut ($3.00), where a hole hacked into the hard shell gives access to the oddly refreshing coconut water inside. Other beverages available include herbal teas, yerba maté drinks, and hemp seed lattés.

The affordably-priced "Faerie Fare" menu offers raw main dishes and living and hot soups of the day. A Mushu Vegetable Wrap ($3.95) features a marinated mix of red cabbage, broccoli, green onions, mushrooms, and shredded carrots heaped on a collard leaf, the raw alternative to a tortilla. Fresh-tasting and kaleidoscopically colorful, the vegetables leave a puddle of liquid on the plate, making the wrap a messy eat. The accompanying raw hoisin sauce is a tangy and not too sugary improvement on the classic sweet potato-based condiment. A similarly constructed Thai Wrap ($3.95) tops a green lettuce leaf with grated carrots, daikon radish, kim chi, and sprouts. Though the wrap is buoyed by a excellent, mild peanut sauce, the tough and bitter lettuce leaf was left uneaten.

A spectacular dish is found in the Stuffed Bella ($3.95), a marinated portabella mushroom filled with a satiating walnut fennel paté. Instead of the posted chopped vegetable topping, the earthy mushroom was strewn with baby spinach, and copiously dressed with a miso tahini sauce. Together the robust mushroom, crunchy paté, tender spinach, and creamy sauce made for a perfect texture combination.

For dessert, Urban Forage offers a variety of sweet bars and pies du jour. During one of my visits, Tanya had made her first raw lemon "meringue" ($3.00), a pleasing pie made of a textured date and walnut crust, a slightly lemon-tinged banana filling, and a coconut creme topping garnished with a thin slice of lemon. I also walked out with a thick Lemon Black Sesame Bar ($2.50), a pasty but tasty and remarkably filling nibble of chopped sunflower seeds, wildflower honey, black sesame seeds, and lemon essential oil.

Though food is available to go and Urban Forage is currently tiny, it's best to eat on site and take the time to enjoy the quality ingredients and carefully prepared dishes. Just sit on a padded window seat in the sun, watch Lower Haight hipsters walk by, and experience living food.