Proper Food opened last week in the corner of the FiDi/SOMA where it seems like construction cranes are constantly overhead and big holes in the ground instead of buildings are the norm. It's a grab-and-go establishment aimed at the busy working crowd; there are no tables or reasons to linger. The menu focuses on protein-rich sandwiches and salads made with healthy, seasonal ingredients, and is overseen by Executive Chef Juan Munoz, formerly of Campton Place.
The restaurant's sleek, white, Apple store-like building is tricky to find at first, if you're going by the address -- it's actually a bit west down Mission from First. Inside, instead of a make-your-own salad counter, is a refrigerated wall with pre-made salads, rice bowls, soba noodle bowls, and sandwiches lined up like you'd see at Walgreens. No time stamps or any indication of how long they'd been there.
I chose the octopus salad with garbanzo beans ($12.50), which came pre-dressed and with a little cup of "Spanish croutons" (regular croutons dusted with smoked paprika or something). Usually I am at war with frisee in salads -- so unnecessary! so hard to eat! -- but here it was well-chopped and added a nice bitterness to the mix. The lemon dressing was light and perky, and couldn't have been on there too long because the chickpeas had retained some firmness. And the octopus was fabulous, tender and smoky-tasting from the grill, a tough feat to pull off.
The biggest downside, besides the fact that I had to mix up the salad myself (so hard, guys), was the inclusion of diced red and green peppers, the only other vegetable besides the frisee. Their bland sweetness didn't really jive with the rest of the Mediterranean flavors, and I would have liked to see ingredients like fennel, olives, or cucumber to balance it out.