Checking in on Ovok, the Former SliderBar

It’s pretty tough to be a corner restaurant in the Castro. Home and Leticia’s both departed, and their buildings became condos. Zapata’s is next on the chopping block. Hecho ran into some trouble over its birth name of Bandidos. The spot that currently houses Gyro Xpress on 18th and Castro streets has had some turnover, and the space that was once home to Bagdad Café (and later became SliderBar, which closed several times because of vermin) is now Ovok Brunchery and Burgeria.

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With that history in mind, we checked it out. At first glance, Ovok seems relatively harmless, but almost too harmless. I got the feeling it was intended as a mere placeholder until the owners figured out what to do, and since SliderBar was probably permanently tainted in the public imagination, they needed a quickie rebrand.

As for the name, Ovok sounds more like the name of a Star Wars planet than anything culinary reference point — and does not appear to be an acronym — while “Burgeria,” to my juvenile ears, rhymes with something gross. (Hoodline reported that “ovok” is supposed to be derived from the Spanish word for egg, “huevo.” I get the huevo/ovo/ovok connection, but Google doesn’t seem to know anything about it, and there is no k in Spanish, so something doesn’t quite add up.)

In any case, Ovok seems pretty bland. Unusual footprint notwithstanding, it’s laid out strangely, and it’s been sparsely populated every time I’ve walked by, which bodes ill. There are also three big-screens above the bar, which is fine if you’re Hi Tops but slightly overwhelming if you’re not (and there’s no one else there).

In menu-land, mediocrity seems to rule. Breakfast-all-day is always a welcome concept, but three omelets (here, “omlettes”), and a few types of pancakes feels unoriginal and lackluster. Since it was 9 p.m., we went with burgers: a Veggie Vore (Hodo Soy tofu, pepper jack, sliced grapes, arugula, and secret sauce) and an inoffensive Club Med (made with a ground lamb patty, pickled onions, curry mayo, and arugula), along with truffle fries. They were a bit oily, but decent. In a world of $17 burgers, I’m happy to report that no burger on Ovok’s menu exceeds the $10 threshold, but then again, you get what you pay for. You can't find the menu online, as Ovok lacks a website or a Facebook page, another sign this is a transitional business.

What did surprise me was the voice of the demos. Ovok’s getting pretty torn up on Yelp, by people tying it to its predecessor and by gumshoes taking pics of their frozen food and the mess the employees leave out back, on 16th Street. But the reviews themselves are few and far between. Given the history of the space, and the obvious lack of love, I wouldn’t expect this one to last very long.

Ovok, 2295 Market, 415-431-7700.

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