“Of course, Champagne! But first, coffee.”
So say the mugs at The Riddler, Jen Pelka’s women-led Champagne bar in Hayes Valley. Starting this Saturday, Nov. 11, its tiny kitchen will roll out Brunch-ish, a first-come, first-served prix-fixe on weekends from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. While the bar’s tater tot waffles don’t come off the two irons until 4 p.m., for $24, you get a three-tiered slate tray with a seasonal fruit salad; a choice of chia pudding with berries and oat crumble or a savory farro grain bowl with broccolini, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and pumpkin seeds; and a choice of croissants and tarts from JANE Bakery.
Lady Falcon coffee and JANE tea are individually priced, and because sparkling wine is the reason for all seasons, there will be Champagne cocktails and spritzes, plus a rotating can of wine at all times. Assuming we get at least one more warm weekend, it’s worth mentioning that The Riddler has outdoor seating. The one thing that’s always missing is eggs, because chef Zoe Salcedo is working in “the smallest workspace I’ve ever had.” She’s basically standing in place and pivoting.
Almost all chefs hate brunch, but Salcedo has “FUCK BRUNCH” tattooed on her left forearm.
“I feel like you shut down the restaurant the night before and come in early the next day,” she says of her ink. “You’re cranky, you’re tired. Everyone’s hungover, which makes it really challenging to amp everybody up and get them excited. … People are a lot more vocal about their special needs during brunch. I believe food should be eaten the way it’s intended to be served, otherwise it’s not its true self.”
Preach! Meanwhile, in the Castro, Steve Dustin took over the kitchen at Finn Town a few months ago, and he’s debuted brunch and dinner menus for fall. During the diurnal re-intoxication period — aka brunch — there’s a bread basket with sweet and savory baked goods like a feta-and-basil Danish and pumpkin-walnut bread. Adults can gravitate toward a butternut squash frittata with Vermont cheddar and pumpkin-seed pesto, while inner children can go ape for chocolate chip pancakes with drunken bananas and peanut butter sauce.
Don’t forget the house-made sausage patties, but don’t let the bananas be your only tipsy table-mates. Finn Town has a special $12 brunch cocktail menu, the highlight of which is probably the Belcanto (Aperol, Gran Classico, gin, lemon, honey, egg white, black pepper, and Champagne).
No word yet as to what profanity, sacrilege, or black-magic incantation Dustin might have scrawled on his inner wrist, though.
Brunch-ish, Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., at The Riddler, 528 Laguna St., 415-741-1729 or theriddlersf.com
Finn Town, 2251 Market St., 415-626-3466 or finntownsf.com