Aster, at 22nd and Guerrero in San Francisco’s Mission District, had been open for just six months when it was awarded a Michelin star last year. “We were surprised and thrilled,” said Katie Nielsen, assistant general manager. “It was totally unexpected.”
Diners fortunate to have enjoyed chef/owner Brett Cooper’s sophisticated and refined cuisine were not at all surprised. As the former sous chef at acclaimed Coi, and chef de cuisine at Saison, Cooper learned from some of the best. When it came time to strike out on his own, he joined forces with his previous mentor Daniel Patterson and the thriving and popular Daniel Patterson Group of restaurants (Coi, Haven, Alfred’s, Alta CA, and PB), perhaps increasing his chances for restaurant success just a wee bit.
While a great partnership is pivotal, ultimately, it’s the food that wins the awards, and Cooper knows how to bring it. Combining carefully sourced ingredients with an impeccable technique, Cooper elevates familiar favorites in his creation of wholly unique dishes. And now, guests need not procure a highly desired dinner reservation to enjoy Cooper’s Michelin starred cuisine; Aster’s door is now open for weekend brunch, a meal that is well-suited to its casual and convivial atmosphere. Here’s why you should go:
- Get in now: It’s been only a month and the word is just getting out. In the future, you’ll likely need to reserve, but right now, you can walk-in and grab one of the oak table booths, or sit at the high communal table that runs the length of the dining room. The corner window is a cozy spot in which to drink your Four Barrel Coffee and watch the urban weekend scene pass by.
- Shared, Sweet, & Savory: Cooper’s easily navigable and creative menu breaks down to these three categories. Shared plates include smaller delectable bites such as buttermilk biscuits with honey butter and bacon, or thick sourdough bread slathered with butter, Dandelion chocolate and a sprinkling of salt, and asparagus toast with crème fraiche and salmon roe. The Sweet section’s four options include: puffed grains with yogurt/ strawberries/wild fennel, sweet potato and apple hash brown, sourdough bread pudding, and lemon poppy pound cake (a great dessert option.) Savory selections include an English pea quiche topped with a thick slab of Mt. Tam cheese, over-easy eggs with grits, avocado on rye with king salmon/radish/sprouts, a breakfast sandwich with porcetta/egg, and duck confit and potato hash.
- A lovely and inventive drink menu: Why have a plain cup o’ joe when you can have a ‘De la Paz Peel Sessions’ with Four Barrel Ethiopian, ginger, hibiscus and marshmallow? Libations include a simple and delectable sangria, the classic mimosa, or a shot of ‘Penicillin,’ smoked tea leaf vermouth, ginger, lemon, honey and lemongrass. SF’s Song Teas provide soul-warming goodness, and reds, whites, bubbles, and beer are available by the glass.
- Neighborhood hangout: When and where have other Michelin-starred restaurants offered themselves up as low-key neighborhood hangouts? Aster provides a unique opportunity to watch Chef Cooper at work in his open kitchen, while enjoying top-level cuisine in a relaxed and casual atmosphere where turning tables is not a priority. Bring your newspaper and stay awhile. At least for now, until the rest of the City finds out that Aster is now open for brunch.
1001 Guerrero Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
Featured photo via Facebook