I’ve been eagerly awaiting the opening of The LINE SF hotel. A welcome addition to the mid-market neighborhood, The LINE SF will bring a few exciting dining options, including the rooftop bar Rise Over Run opening late October.
Tenderheart, a Northern California restaurant with Asian influences, just opened last week on the ground floor. I usually wait a bit for new spots to get in the groove, but for one week in, I was impressed with my experience at Tenderheart.
Chef Joe Hou’s concise and fun menu blends elements from his Chinese-American roots with seasonal local California fare. Hou has spent time cooking locally at Angler, Le Fantastique, and Bird Dog. He also worked as a pastry chef at Per Se and Nomad in NYC.
The sweet and sour quail was a standout with an addictively tangy, sticky sauce and thicker breading, and accompanied with pickled pineapple. Wet wipes come with the dish, as you will want to dig in with your hands.
Another memorable dish was the lionhead meatball crépinette, a creative fusion of Chinese pork meatballs and French sausage patties. This was served “on the bone” to resemble a pork chop, and accompanied by blistered sweet jimmy nardello peppers. While I loved the flavors, some more texture contrast and brightness would have balanced out the mushy texture of the meatball.
The big eye tuna crudo with tomato water was a refreshing start, though I didn’t get much garlic flavor and the tuna itself wasn’t memorable. And the milk bread, while too dense and dry for my preference, worked well to soak up the juice from the lionhead meatball and the crudo.
On the drinks side, the cocktail menu by Danny Louie (Mr. Jiu’s, Alembic) is fantastic. Balanced drinks with diverse ingredients compliment the food menu well. The 16th & Margarita was citrus forward and refreshing with fennel and corn. The New Fashioned incorporated winter melon sugar and banana liquor.
Service was great and the timing of the dishes came out impressively fast, without feeling rushed. It looks like Hou and Louie will also be in charge of curating the menus at the future dining options inside The LINE SF. A solid start, and I definitely look forward to trying more.