With stunning views and upscale atmosphere, One Market is one of the few restaurants in San Francisco with an unbeatable location to serve some of the city’s most exciting cuisine. Executive Chef Mark Dommen has created a menu that appeals to a variety of culinary interests and budgets, featuring seasonal American fare with an emphasis on fresh, organic, and local ingredients.
Chef Dommen spent his early years training under world-renowned chefs (Hubert Keller, Gray Kunz, and Alain Ducasse to name a few) before joining the Lark Creek Restaurant Group in 2004. His innovative style and approach to cooking has allowed him to expand on proprietor Bradley Ogden’s sophisticated American fare, creating the stellar reputation One Market carries today. His approach to cooking can best be described as blending the freshest of seasonal and local ingredients while utilizing classic French techniques. Guests appreciate Chef Dommen’s effort to ensure that the menu reflects the finest produce, often prepared in artistic, unexpected, and delicious ways. And in keeping with the fresh-from-the-farm philosophy, much of his menu’s produce is sourced from The Ferry Building, conveniently located across the street.
Every Friday and Saturday night One Market features a special menu highlighting a different animal, known as the “Weekly Beast.” For $49, a five-course prix fixe menu showcases a locally farm-raised animal from head to hoof (or toe, in some cases). This new menu provides diners with an exciting opportunity to experience a variety of flavors and textures they might not normally be familiar with. Weekly items include specially prepared dishes such as Sheep’s Milk Ricotta Gnocchi with braised lamb shoulder and parmesan (Devil’s Gulch Ranch Lamb), Muscovy Duck Liver Mousse Terrine with brioche and pickled figs (Salmon Creek Ranch), and Crispy Pig Trotters with foie gras and frisee (Marin Sun Farms Sucking Pig). Not feeling quite so adventurous? One Market also offers these dishes a la carte. Wine pairings are available for an additional $20, an unbeatable price that is hard to resist!
During the month of February the restaurant offers an additional special, the Annual Dungeness Crab Festival. One Market celebrates its 21st year of this tradition, where live crabs are picked daily and cooked in house. Open the menu to find small figures of a crab, denoting which items are part of the special. From Dungeness Crab Cakes with saffron aioli (one of Chef Dommen’s signature dishes) to Dungeness Crab & Fennel Soup featuring pickled crab and cara cara orange, patrons are sure to find a dish that pleases their palette.
The Hand-picked Dungeness Crab proves to be an excellent beginning. Visually this is one of the most beautiful creations I have seen. The dish is presented with five pieces of lump crabmeat placed in green apple water, gelatin-like and reminiscent of a lake, along with crab salad. The abundance of flavor from the refreshing green apple water and diced green apples is a bit tart, yet a lovely pairing with the delicate crab. A scoop of jalapeño sorbet and sprinkled fresh cilantro round out the dish nicely.
A Farmer’s Market House Salad is delivered the same time as the Dungeness Crab starter. An enormous mound of dark leafy greens covers a stark white plate. Thin slices of seasonal vegetables, including carrots, add a delightful crunch to the slightly bitter greens. At first I cannot make out the different flavors of the simply dressed salad, and then it comes to me. The dressing is a light sherry vinaigrette.
The Roasted Liberty Farms Duck Breast comes highly recommended by our server, and with the first bite I can see why this is one of her favorites. The entrée is uniquely prepared two ways. One preparation presents three slices of precisely seared duck breast, served on a bed of creamy Anson Mills polenta. The contrasting colors of the deep red duck breast and the bright yellow polenta are visually stimulating. The second preparation of a duck leg confit comes in a rectangular form, the outside a bit crispy and every bit as delicious as the seared duck breast. Subtle hints of saffron and cocoa reduction compliment the duck, a welcoming change from the traditional mint jelly.
The 12 oz. All Natural Angus New York Steak tastes just as the finest New York should. The steak is cooked to order, with a warm pink center. Eyeing my guest’s plate, I take interest in the béarnaise relish. I am pleasantly surprised with a small dollop of something unique, the flavors and textures far from the traditional béarnaise sauce. The right amount of red wine butter enhances the tender steak, allowing the centerpiece to remain the focus.
A Farmer’s Market Side of Buttery Mashed Potatoes is deliciously fluffy, the perfect addition to a hearty steak. My guest is equally as pleased with his entrée, and although I am sure he would have liked to have finished his steak, 12 oz. was on the generous side for him.
Although challenging, I remember a previous visit to One Market and purposely save room for dessert. My eyes are immediately drawn to the Valrhona Manjari Soufflé Cake and my decision is quickly confirmed with the server’s enthusiastic response. Shortly after ordering, the dessert is delivered to our table. The masterpiece consists of a chocolate soufflé cake, a scoop of Bailey’s mascarpone, and a side of salted caramel ice cream. Not sure what to taste first, I dig in, the crisp crust breaking under the spoon to reveal a warm, gooey chocolate center. I take another bite, then another. I ask myself, what is this Valrhona Manjari? The answer: high quality beans from Madagascar shipped to Hermitage, France where they are made into delicious, dark chocolate, found today in many of the finest restaurants around the world. The dessert was ideal for sharing, not to mention the perfect ending to our meal.
As I browse the leather bound wine list containing over 400 selections of American wines I soon realize this is not your average beverage menu. It is surprising to see a wine list encompassing only American wines at a restaurant the caliber of One Market. However, as I read further into the list I began to understand the philosophy behind this presentation. One Market has chosen to take advantage of the variety of wines produced in California, Oregon, and Washington while providing information to help guests find exactly what they are seeking, even if they don’t know it yet. The list includes descriptions about wines themselves, as well as growing areas, vintages, grape varietals and even production methods.
As an avid traveler I am intrigued by the notion that local cuisine is enhanced by regional wines. For a restaurant that prides itself on serving farm fresh and locally sourced ingredients it makes sense to incorporate wines from surrounding areas. After all, San Francisco is neighbors with some of the greatest wine growing regions with Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino to the north, the Livermore Valley and Sierra Foothills to the east, and Monterey and Central Coast to the south. Although each appellation is distinct in its own varietals and styles of wine produced, they all share one common feature: quality -- Which explains why One Market has been awarded Wine Spectator’s “Best of Award of Excellence,” and Restaurant Hospitality’s “Best American Wine List.”
The ambiance and décor contribute to the overall dining experience. Floor to-ceiling windows afford beautiful views of the Ferry Building from the main dining room, which seats up to 140 guests. Tables are elegantly dressed in white linen tablecloths, and modern chandeliers hang high above from the soaring ceilings. An open exhibition kitchen and special Chef’s Table, perhaps the best seat in the house, enables guests to watch with anticipation as the chef and his team prepare different dishes. The restaurant also features private dining rooms and a luxurious bar. The cool tones and modern décor may seem a bit austere at first, but the friendly service and excellent cooking more than compensate.
Few restaurants succeed at small details and finishing touches that make them stand apart from others. The overall staff at One Market is clearly well trained and takes pride in their work. All staff members are attentive and work efficiently as a team, always in tune to their guests’ needs. A reminder of top-notch service is evidenced when my guest requests to take the rest of his steak home. Instead of bringing a paper bag and plopping it in the middle of our table while we savor dessert, the server delivers the neatly boxed leftovers at the end of our meal when she returns the credit card voucher. There was even a note with the table and seat number written on the bag. Not a big deal, but it is one way that shows One Market continues to go above and beyond for its customers.
Come in and expect the unexpected with the Chef Dommen’s artistically creative and mouth-watering cuisine. The food, the service, and the ambiance are truly exceptional and will keep me coming back for more.