Haute Hipsters Eat Funnel Cake at Huxley

Earlier this summer, I was on a family vacation in Colorado when my sister and I walked by a funnel cake stand.

“Here’s the thing about funnel cake,” I told her. “It always smells amazing, but then I get it and I taste it and it never lives up to my expectations.”

Consequently, I have not ordered funnel cake in eight or 10 years. Or, at least I hadn’t until last week when I made a visit to the Tenderloin’s Huxley, where funnel cake is the culminating item on the dessert menu. If not the piece de resistance, it is at least a notable novelty, with an odd combination of textures and flavors that come from a nest of crisp hot fried batter that encircles a creamy boule of ShakedownSF‘s hazelnut, chocolate, and coconut milk-based T’Ella sorbet, and sits on dabs of sticky sweet grape jelly. The whole thing is sprinkled with flakes of toasted coconut.

Summer melon - A. K. CARROLL

Summer melon (A. K. Carroll)

When Manfred Tremble (previously Schroeder’s, Plum, and Incanto) took over the helm of Huxley’s tiny kitchen earlier this year, he overhauled the menu while staying true to the original concept. The cozy dining space with its antique silverware and Art Deco-etched mirrors provides a casual haute-hipster ambience, with edible offerings that are as familiar as a burger and fries (but with avant-garde additions, like shaved perigord truffles and balsamic tossed berries under a layer of house-cured lardo).

Monterey squid salad - A. K. CARROLL
Monterey squid salad (A. K. Carroll)

Though a good deal of comfort food comes from an establishment that is “run by a bunch of boys,” as my server pointed out, Huxley offers lighter fare as well, including a charred Monterey squid salad composed of compressed cucumbers, shaved carrot, mashed avocado, and salty peanuts, with strong notes of finger lime and chili. They also serve up exquisite chunks of summer melon atop creamy crunchy smears of house-made pistachio butter. Seasoned with hot chili and shiso, it would be easy to eat by the spoonful.

Wild mushroom risotto - A. K. CARROLL
Wild mushroom risotto (A. K. Carroll)

Huxley’s most popular entree remains the 4-ounce Hux Deluxe dry-aged burger, served on a house made onion dill bun with pickles, fried onion, bacon and American cheese. Their most recent addition is a generous portion of Liberty Farms duck breast, served with smoky lentils, bitter roasted Treviso, and eggplant two ways—lightly charred and creamed. Packed with chanterelles and oozing with pecorino cheese, the rich and creamy wild mushroom risotto doesn’t exactly scream “summer” — unless you’re in San Francisco, where the late afternoon temperatures plummet and comfort food seems surprisingly suitable on a drizzly August evening.

Huxley, 846 Geary Street, 415-800-8223

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