Pastry chef Elise Fineberg seemed to have the same sweet spot, shying away from the avant-garde but aiming for something more than simple and seasonal. Her deconstructed "peach hand pie" ($9) failed to reassemble — the thin layer of cooked peaches in a Pop-Tart–like pastry square was barely detectable, so we used it to scoop up chopped fresh nectarines, and found they were underripe. But her cornmeal shortcake with orange-scented pastry cream, fresh berries, and raspberry sorbet ($9) was classically Californian, perfectly realized; salted-caramel corn ($5) was candied just lightly enough to draw hands back to the bowl, over and over again; and she concocted a sassafras-scented foam that was bold enough to animate a root-beer-chocolate cake ($9) paired with brown-sugar ice cream.

Actually, the most daring aspect of Prospect may be Brooke Arthur's cocktail menu, a collection of tricks and curiosities. The rosemary sprig that scratched my nose when I sipped her cherry-red Roxana ($11) foreshadowed a cool, resiny drink, but the herb turned out to be a high hedge guarding a sunny fruit orchard. The rim of her Kingston Crusta ($11) was dusted in salt and sugar and something else — while I puzzled over the blend of Jamaican rum, lime, and Maraschino in the cocktail, my lips began buzzing, and I realized the mysterious flavor in the coating was toasted chile powder.

The trumpet mushrooms bewitched the aroma of this beef zabuton.
Lara Hata
The trumpet mushrooms bewitched the aroma of this beef zabuton.

Location Info

Map

Prospect

300 Spear
San Francisco, CA 94105

Category: Restaurant > California

Region: Embarcadero

Details

300 Spear (at Folsom), 247-7770, www.prospectsf.com. Dinner 5:30-10:30 p.m. Sun.-Thu. and 5:30-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Bar 4 p.m.-closing daily. Muni: 30X, T, N. Noise: moderate but buzzy.

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A night at Prospect is a reminder of how comfortably San Francisco wears its money. A clothes-watcher, scanning the dining room's open matrix of tables, might identify the occasional Zac Posen top. But there's more good tailoring than bling, more open-necked shirts than $300 ties. The crowd has the look of TED Conference attendees relaxing at the end of a day's sessions — setting their might aside like a motorcycle helmet and shaking out their hair. They are the Boulevard crowd, dressed down for a weekday night out, and Prospect is designed perfectly for them.

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