Have you ever played a sport and entered 'the zone'? I've had many moments in my life where, lost in a state between the physical and mental, my instincts and training take over and I am transported to another dimension. Body and mind are fuzed together and it is almost as if I was floating above the space, looking back at myself. All was perfect. This might be a strong metaphor for my lunch experience at Wexler's, but there are certainly hints of this realm. Everything was simply effortless, yet incredibly well-planned. From the moment I arrived, until stepping back out into the street, Wexler's was a model of the dining experience, as I would expect it to be executed by professionals who are in 'the zone'. I can honestly say that it was one of the best lunches I've had in San Francisco, ever.
I had heard about Wexler's and frankly had the wrong impression. I thought it would be a bar, first and foremost. I knew it had modern interpretations of Texas BBQ. From the blogosphere, I knew of their 4505 Meats Hot Dog. I was shocked to enter into a modern-designed restaurant that felt like anything but Texas BBQ or a bar. Yes there was a bar and yes they focus on interpretations of some BBQ classics. But this is a San Francisco treasure, top to bottom - not akin to any predisposition I held.
The setting is very clean and modern, yet warm and sophisticated. You can see the humble shell of the facility behind the well-selected elements that make up the design. The ceiling soars with a wooden rib-cage pattern by Aidlin Darling Designs, who took great pains to bring life to the former Les Amis location.
The lunch menu bounces back and forth from the US South to Northern California with confidence. Charlie Kleinman, formerly of Fish and Farm, wants us to believe that Monterey Bay Squid and Little Gems belong right next to Texas Chili and Smoked Chicken Wings. Call me a believer.
The Bowl 'o' Red Texas chili is simply perfect. House smoked short ribs are delicately spiced and complimented with pickled shallots and creme fraîche. There is just enough to get you started but left for wanted more. This is how appetizers should be.
The Chilled Heirloom Cucumber Soup started with a bowl containing a few towers of red pepper confit, topped with smoked ricotta. The soup was poured over top from a small tea pot. It was an elegant presentation to an equally elegant soup.
Even the little gems salad (you know I loves me some little gems, don'tcha?) blew me away with tasty cornbread croutons and sublime smoked cippolini onions. Pure inspiration.
The pulled lamb sandwich is amazing on it's own, but throw in some watermelon vinegar (you heard me!) and a divine slaw of green peach and red cabbage. Well, you've got to just try it yourself.
But the piece due resistance (said with Texas accent please) was the 4505 Meats Mission Dog. I've had a few of these dogs lately (both 4505 and Mission style). Nothing I've tasted was able to bring all flavors together in such a complete package as this treat. In fact, the guys at Mission Burger might pop in here to see how a great foundation is accented by the proper accessories. The perfect bacon, pickled chilies and caramelized onions sat atop a light sauce, fresh baked bun and the 4505 foundation. I wanted to stand and applaud.
And there was still dessert. What can I say about a Bourbon Banana Cream Pie with dulce de leche and fleur de sel? Except that the graham crust gets no mention and deftly cradled all of this love without flaw.
Needless to say I give Wexler's a hearty endorsement. I almost don't want to return for fear that the 'zone' was just an 'on' day for the team. But something about Wexler's tells me that these pros take this seriously and bring their 'A' game every day.
Wexler's 568 Sacramento Avenue San Francisco, CA 94111 (415) 983-0102