Occupation: Retired Legal Secretary
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Source Restaurant
Reviewed Source Restaurant: Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Upon opening the door, there is a counter on the left, behind which is a glowing pizza oven. While a bit chaotic, we were nonetheless warmly greeted and given a menu that we took to a table to make our choices. We would then return to the counter to place our order, consider the homemade desserts on display, and pay for our meal.
A rather small restaurant, Source is bustling. Most of the small wooden tables are filled with couples, small groups, and families with children. Projected on two walls are gently pulsating pastel abstractions which, along with relaxing music, are meant to calm the senses. Source is a vegan/vegetarian restaurant. The food is regionally sourced and organic; the sauces, breads and desserts are all house made. Many dishes are gluten-free, and all vegetarian dishes can be made vegan.
We shared an appetizer of Peking Quack Spring Rolls with Plum Sauce. The spring rolls were lightly fried and cut on a diagonal for presentation on a bed of baby spinach. The accompanying plum sauce nicely balanced the smoked duck flavor. Our waiter offered some spicy red pepper sauce, which was complex and flavorful, landing sweetly on the tongue, then warming to a memorable finish.
The mushroom onion Swiss burger served in pita bread was mounded with lettuce and tomato, caramelized mushroom and onion. On the side was a generous helping of French fries with an oval dish of homemade ketchup. Once bitten into, the patty, made with beets, other vegetables and lentils, was reminiscent of a traditional medium rare burger.
My Grilled Moo Skewers were meant to mimic beef cubes threaded on wooden skewers. They were served on a bed of brown rice with a variety of vegetables such as mushrooms, crunchy pea pods, carrots and onions. The dish was well seasoned, although skewers had a drizzle of the same plum sauce served with our appetizer. Had I realized, I would have made another choice of either the main dish or the appetizer to avoid any repetition of flavors. The servings were so generous that I took half my order home (and it tasted just as good for lunch the next day).
Along with our dinner, we enjoyed some herbal tea served in individual ceramic pots. I had the Cup of Health, which was robustly herbal with a touch of anise. My friend had Ginger Alchemy. I am not fond of ginger teas so did not order it but, when poured, I was overcome with the pleasant fragrance of ginger tamed by lemongrass. I will certainly order Ginger Alchemy next time.
Although our dessert was ordered at the same time as the appetizer and main course, its arrival was perfectly timed. The Living Mousse Parfait was served in a glass dish set on a white saucer, with two spoons artfully arranged on opposite sides. The parfait was made of chocolate cashew crème with brownie bites, topped with a dash of white cashew crème and sprinkled with cocoa nibs. The cocoa nibs added a pleasant crunch. It was delightful, and probably the best raw dessert I have ever had.
We found the environment warm and friendly, the arrival of the courses perfectly timed, and the noise level, while a bit higher than I recalled on previous visits (albeit later in the evening), appropriate for the setting. Source is definitely a place to return to again and again and again.
Occupation: Cartoonist and Comedy Writer
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Morning Due Cafe
Reviewed Source Restaurant: Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Upon arrival at Source, we found familiar faces: my dinner companion and I ran into friends of mine who love Source. That was encouraging as a start. The menu offerings all looked so good that it was pretty hard to decide on dishes, but we made it work. (I’d never heard the term Bloomingdale Spinach before…) We started with Peking Quack Spring Roll: delicious. I could’ve eaten a dozen of those and been happy. Extra points for the goofy name.
We opted to eat “outside” in the heated tent. Nice change of pace from regular feel.
The truffle macaroni and cheese was tasty and filling. At most (but not quite) too rich. Still tasty as a leftover the next day. Ditto on the filling and savory “artichoke pie” pizza. The olives somehow stood out as extra tasty. Not sure how such a supporting ingredient can be prominent but they did somehow seem more like “Kala- MATA!!” olives. No room for dessert. Satisfied and happy—glad Check, Please! introduced me to Source!
Occupation: Sales Executive
Favorite Restaurant: Mua
Reviewed Source Restaurant: Saturday, April 28, 2012
I was very excited to check this place out in the city near the ball park. Seemed hip and the menu looked awesome, but with the menu being very vegetarian/vegan this meat eater was a little wet around the collar.
Soooo…I went with an open mind and an empty stomach (I didn’t steal that…it’s the truth). Walking in I, at first, was a little disappointed. I think a “restaurant” should have servers. I want to be seated, I wanted to be waited on, I want the service experience. The “Source” is order at the counter and sit and wait with a number for your food. So I schlepped to the counter and perused the menu.
I had already peeked at the menu online, and had questions. It is a huge menu, and from watching too many restaurant makeover shows, I was afraid that this place may have jumped the shark. So I went straight to the “source”: the man behind the counter and to do as I like to do at a new place and asked the simple question, “What ROCKS here…what do people come back for…and what, when the places closes for the night, can you not wait to sink your teeth into?” I find that if you ask that question the right way, you’ll get some good information. I was not disappointed. He did ask for some direction: was I allergic to anything, is there anything I wouldn’t eat, what flavors do I like. I answered, “I’m good with anything, and I like something a bit spicy.” My concerns about being “served” melted away, as these two gentlemen behind the counter took care of me as a guest, as a server would, which is what I wanted. From there my journey began.
He looked to his fellow cashier and they both smiled at me and said that I have to try the Spicy Buffalo Bites and if I’m not afraid of a big burger that I should give the Pepper and Onion Burger a run through. I said go and we went. But I was parched and had to try one of their “elixirs,” so I asked what his favorite was and he suggested that I try the “Flying Dragon.” Again, I took his advice and paid for my meal, grabbed my number and found a spot to sit.
So right off the bat, my anxiousness over the “lack of service” was squelched by fantastic personalities behind the counter and a room filled with a good vibe and big windows. The clientele was young and hip and clearly had been there before. There was some art on the walls and a projector displaying geometric soothing images on the walls.
There was a placard on the table talking about the water being ultra purified, the air filtered to the point of virtually particulate free, and for some reason, I felt extra healthy. The cigar that I smoked the night before almost seemed to evaporate from my lungs as I sucked in the clean air and sucked on the pure water. It was a bit of a Zen-like experience.
My drink came, and it looked very brown like traditional or homemade tonic water. I don’t know what I was exactly expecting as the menu said these drinks were made from fermented green tea and lemon, so of course it would be brownish in color. I took a sip. I was more than pleasantly surprised by the flavor. It tasted great, bold, almost a bit spicy, but not in the hot wing sort of way just good. So with a smile on my face and my drink in hand, I waited for my first plate to arrive.
I had sat positioned so that the two cashiers who basically picked my meal could see me, and see when my food arrived, and when my Spicy Buffalo Bites came, I could see they started to chatter. The plate looked like Tater Tots, but smooth and covered in a hot sauce. Again, I placed it in my mouth, not sure what to expect. But again, I was excited by what I tasted. It was fantastic: hearty, not meaty per say, but just a good bite, a good chew and a great taste. The sauce could have been a bit hotter for my liking, but still had a great flavor. I literally DEVOURED the entire plate. I enjoyed the dipping sauce it came with and could have an entire plate of the slaw that came as a garnish (along with cucumber spears, that yes, I ate as well). One of the two cashiers came up and asked me what I thought. My only words were, “What are these? What are they made of?” He answered telling me that they were soy protein and a few other things. To be honest I really didn’t care, but it was hard for me to believe that they weren’t meat of some kind They tasted too good, from this carnivores perspective, to not be some animal.
So with fork and knife in hand, I waited for the burger. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve had PLENTY of veggie burgers and never, not once, not kinda, have I ever liked one. I’ve eaten them to be polite or because that’s all there was and I was hungry but I’ve never had one and thought: I gotta get another one! There is a first for everything. The burger arrived stuffed in a pita served on a bed of perfect fries and stuffed with perfectly caramelized onions and peppers (both still had a slight bite, like I think they should), diced tomatoes and lettuce. It had a nice sear to it, and since it’s made with beets, it was even red like a nice medium rare burger would look. The flavor exploded in my mouth. I’m Armenian (among other things) and grew up eating a lot of lamb. My mom would make something called lahmajoun, which is kinda like a little personal lamb pizza with peppers and onions all ground up together. NOTE: please be clear that these lahmajoun don’t scream of lamb, but more like the peppers and onions and spices. I say that because I don’t want to SCARE anyone off who may not like lamb when I say the next sentence. If I were to take a bit of each with my eyes closed, I don’t know if I would be able to tell them apart, which is a GOOD thing in my eyes, as lahmajoun is one of my favorite things to eat on this earth.
Now, I was getting full, as both the appetizer and the burger were neither a small plate, but I had to try something. One more thing. One thing that as a child I had when I could sneak it away, and anyone who was ever a child could appreciate: a Twinkie. Yes, that’s right, they make homemade Twinkies there, and there was nary a chance that I would turn that down. And again, I was not disappointed. The sponge was perfect, and the filling delightful.
With my meal completed, I strolled to the counter where both cashiers were smiling, waiting to hear what I thought. My first question was, ”You make your own catsup too, don’t you?” They both turned and smiled, giving me my answer without words. I just lowered my head and gave a light chuckle and a nod. I gave them great thanks, told them I would be back to try something else delicious on their menu. I think the name of this restaurant, “the Source” is fitting as there is no doubt, that that place is my “Source” for vegetarian/vegan food going forward. You just gotta try it.