The baby sitting next to me at Plow had impeccable manners. She delicately ate her chocolate spiced donut hole ($1.75) without spraying crumbs, unlike me. And then she sat patiently until the rest of breakfast arrived, which took awhile since the dining room in this sun-lit, converted architect’s studio on a Potrero Hill corner, was full. Even babies know that Plow’s cooking is worth waiting for.
Plow not only has captivated its Potrero Hill neighbors with simple, if radiant, breakfast and lunch dishes, but now draws eaters from all over town.
Owners Maxine Siu and Joel Bleskacek, a Potrero Hill couple with kids of their own, met 16 years ago in Oliveto’s kitchen. In Plow they created a place that allows for family life. The kitchen transforms beautiful ingredients into seductive, homey dishes that even children like.
Plow’s fried egg sandwich ($11) on a soft ACME brioche bun is layered with sweet, smoky bacon and just the right proportion of melted cheddar, aioli and frisee. The creamy orange yolks of Glaum Farm eggs moisten everything. On the side are Plow’s famous potatoes– crushed, craggy, golden, yellow fleshed– tossed with caramelized onions and fresh herbs. The siren call of these potatoes entraps Plow’s devotees and makes them wait helplessly on the sidewalk for hours.
Every item on the small menu is available until closing, so you can have fluffy ricotta pancakes scented with lemon zest ($9.50), slathered with whipped butter and maple syrup for lunch; or a thick, juicy, cider-brined pork chop ($14), flavored by the grill, with sauteed escarole and nutty farro, for breakfast.
At lunch, I’m partial to tea-smoked chicken salad ($10), a fluffy pile of juicy dark meat and lettuces in a bright, lemony vinaigrette. The smoke from the tea leaves perfumes the chicken. A fresh herb-scented, tomato-tinged broth makes a cazuela of Italian butter beans ($9), a proper dipping medium for fire-licked levain toast. A grilled portobello sandwich ($9.50) with creamy Pt. Reyes Toma, is lifted by the peppery sweetness of romesco. You get those wondrous potatoes on the side.
Having recently been to Portugal, I expected migas ($10.50) to be a breadcrumb “risotto” enriched by eggs, one of the oddest and most compelling dishes I’ve ever encountered. At Plow, we get a cazuela of house chorizo with a few breadcrumbs, sauteed peppers and two fried eggs on top, a meatier migas .
The bakers at Plow produce a plate of warm chewy cookies ($6.75) –chocolate chip coconut and molasses ginger–that show off a pedigree of butter, and they go with excellent, full bodied Equator coffee. If the divine lemon pudding cake ($6.75) is available, don’t miss it, a free form affair with lemon souffle bottom and shimmery lemon custard on top, crowned with soft whipped cream. One afternoon it was supposed to come with blackberries, but they had run out.
Running out is an issue here. I’ve never arrived early enough to snag a chicken pot pie or a fried chicken sandwich on the daily changing menu. The kitchen just makes so many and if everyone orders the same thing–well, what can it do? I just wish my lovely little Plow weren’t so popular. Doesn’t anyone work in San Francisco?
Plow, 1299 18th Street (at Texas), San Francisco
Contact: 415 821-7569; www.eatatplow.com
Hours: Tuesday through Friday 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Closed Monday
Recommended dishes: fried egg sandwich with crispy potatoes; lemon ricotta pancakes; Italian butter bean stew; grilled mushroom sandwich; tea-smoked chicken salad
Price range: Inexpensive
Credit cards: all major
Reservations: not accepted