5 Reasons Volta Changes the SF Dining Scene Direction

Herring X5
Herring X5

Photo Credit: Eric Wolfinger Photography

From the owners of San Francisco’s popular Perbacco and barbacco restaurants comes a new South of Market dining spot that veers far from the Italian fare of its sister eateries. Volta – meaning a turning point or change of direction – explores favorites from Sweden and France. While not a standard culinary alliance, this mash-up not only works, it allows for a spirited and vibrant menu with both classic and creative choices.

At Volta, owner Umberto Gibin and executive chef Staffan Terje explore Terje’s Scandanavian heritage while paying homage to his masterful French training. Volta’s offerings are traditional, yet transformed; classic, yet contemporary. Volta is different, and different is fun. Here’s why:

1) Köttbullar: If your definition of Swedish meatballs is derived from those at a certain retailer of ready-to-assemble furniture, you must make your Volta reservation immediately. Terje’s version of this most traditional Swedish meal, officially called köttbullar, is the real deal: small beef/pork/veal meatballs served with potato puree, cream sauce, and fresh lingonberry. This is Swedish comfort food, and this is how köttbullar is meant to taste.

2) Skål!: Order a glass of housemade Aquavit, a traditional Scandinavian dry spirit, flavored with caraway, and raise your glass with a traditional Swedish toast, “Skål!” Or honor the restaurant’s French character with an “À Vôtre Santé!” Let wine director Tristan Pitre choose a luscious Cabernet Franc for you from his thoughtfully curated list of predominately French and California wines. You might not spot many recognizable names on his list, but that’s the point. Pitre’s goal is to introduce you to something new, delicious, and memorable.

3) Herring? You bet: Perhaps not an item you crave, but after tasting Terje’s Herring X 5, a sampling of five classic preparations (traditional pickled, mustard-dill, curry-apple, matjes herring and herring-beet salad), you just might wonder why herring is not a staple on your grocery list. This dish is artfully served with knäckebröd (Swedish rye crisp with sesame and sunflower seeds), Västerbotten cheese and Kalles kaviar whipped butter.

4) Skip over to the French side: It’s not all about Sweden. How about some escargot simmered in pastis? Or Poulet Vert – poached chicken with a fine herb velouté. Boeuf Bourguignon beckons – a stew of braised beef, pearl onions and carrot in a red wine sauce. And don’t forget the pomme frites, served classically in a paper cone with sauce Béarnaise on the side.

5) Sleek Swedish design: Striking in its gray and blue simplicity, Volta is a pristine jewel box of glass and steel. Designed with clean lines, tiled floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, and Alexander Calder-like chandeliers, the space is contemporary and casual, with three distinct seating areas from which to choose. Ask for one of the cozy booths that line the dining room.

Volta: 868 Mission St., San Francisco. 628-400-6200. Open every day: Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Bar: 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Dinner: 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Volta exteriorPhoto Credit: Eric Wolfinger Photography

Photo credit: Eric Wolfinger Photography

Köttbullar image: Fran Endicott Miller