Review: Ernest

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve dined out and what better way than to check out a new restaurant in San Francisco!

Ernest, which opened in May, is a Californian restaurant coming from chef Brandon Rice who formerly worked at Rich Table. They offer a tasting menu or an à la carte menu where there’s an eclectic mix of international ingredients with an Asian flair. We opted to do à la carte so we could share several dishes. We actually ended up ordering almost the entire menu.

Parker House Rolls with Cultured Butter (8.5/10).

These pillowy warm rolls were delicious, especially with their homemade cultured butter. Did their cultured butter surpass Lazy Bear’s butter? No, but it still hit the spot.

Tater Tots with Tsar Nicoulai Caviar and Crème Fraîche (8.5/10).

A delectable little snack with crispy tater tots served with a creamy tart condiment with briny caviar, fresh chives, and sieved egg.

Live Scallop Sashimi with Cucumber and Wasabi (8/10).

Luscious scallops were thinly sliced served with paper-thin cucumbers and a hint of wasabi. Clean and crisp flavors.

Beef Tartare with Sushi Rice, Ikura, and Toasted Nori (8.5/10).

This was basically a build your own handroll. While I did find this delicious, I did think the beef tartare got slightly lost as the ikura has a strong presence.

Duck Confit Croquettes with Stone Fruit Vindaloo and Curry Leaf (8.5-9/10).

This was one of my favorite dishes of the night as the flavors really packed a punch. The pipping hot croquettes were crispy on the outside and stuffed with tender duck confit. The sauce really did remind me of Indian vindaloo curry with its complex flavors of spice and acidity.

Beef & Bone Marrow Dumplings with Sauce Charcutière (7/10).

While the sauce was great, the dumplings themselves were slightly underwhelming. I found the beef filling to be a little tough and not as soft and tender as I would like but that’s me being nitpicky.

Koshihikari Fried Rice with Corn and Cotija Cheese (7.5-8/10).

Definitely a fun interpretation of fried rice with a Mexican touch. I wanted a little more char on the rice itself but overall it was tasty.

Torpedo Onion with Gochujang and Hazelnut Romesco (8/10).

Charred onion was served with a slightly spicy romesco sauce with hints of nutty hazelnut. A tasty vegetarian dish.

Lo Mein “Carbonara” with Sea Urchin and Oliver’s Bacon (8/10).

A quirky rendition of an Italian classic pasta dish where the pasta is actually lo mein noodles tossed in a creamy sea urchin sauce with crispy bacon. While this was scrumptious, the sea urchin flavor was pretty mellow.

Pork Tonkatsu with Smoked Gribiche, Horseradish, and Tobiko (6.5-7/10).

I had high hopes for the pork tonkatsu but this was the weakest dish of the night. Yes, the pork was juicy and the crust was nicely fried but the overall dish lacked flavor and was underseasoned. I got no smoky notes from the gribiche and the horseradish didn’t have that intense punch either. The pickles were barely acidic and the tobiko was a random ingredient that didn’t add much to the dish.

BBQ Short Rib with Yu Choy and Serrano (9/10).

One of the strongest dishes without a doubt. The BBQ short rib was incredibly tender and the dollops of spicy mustard cut through the richness of the meat. Definitely a winner.

Medium Rare Basque Cheese (9.5/10).

I loved the Basque cheesecake with its rich creamy interior and charred exterior. So incredibly good!

Black Sesame “Tiramisu” Shaved Ice (8/10).

Kakigōri is a Japanese shaved ice dessert and this was so refreshing. The ice was flavored with subtle black sesame and topped with ladyfingers and a rich coffee-flavored whipped cream. Perhaps maybe some mascarpone was in the topping as it tasted richer than normal whipped cream.

Soft Serve Sundae (9/10).

Who doesn’t love soft serve?! This sundae was great with the drizzle of chocolate and some sort of crunchy hazelnut condiment on the bottom.

The food at Ernest was solid minus a few dishes. I enjoyed the unique pairings of ingredients and fusing different cuisines together to make a cohesive dish. While there are many restaurants in the city with similar styles of food, I definitely would recommend checking out Ernest if the food appeals to you. Overall, my rating is an 8/10.

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