Dining at the less than year old restaurant, The Commissary by Traci des Jardines is as much a foodie delight of locally sourced Spanish influenced cuisine, as it is a history lesson of San Francisco’s Presidio
district. Yes, you will delight in the seasonal cuisine that draws influence from Spain, and the tremendous impact Spanish food has had on Northern California for quite some time. You’ll also be basked in the glory of Ms. Jardine’s legendary cuisine in San Francisco who has proven to be a master in the culinary world for progressive, yet sustainable food preparation. I’ll get into more food at The Commissary in a bit, but for now I’d like to shift gears to the other star of The Commissary, the location and history of The Presidio.
Did you know that The Presidio was originally Mexican owned? The Ohlone people arrived in 1776 and owned the area for 24 years, until the U.S. Army took control in 1846. As most of you know the army maintained the area as a military post for 148 years. In 1994 the land became part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
When you eat at The Commissary, you are actually eating inside the original mess hall of the U.S. Army. It’s located in the iconic streetscape known as the Montgomery Street Barracks. It was built in 1895 and when one drives up the streets, originally known as “infantry row”, you immediately get a sense that you are surrounded by U.S. history, as the area still appears to be pristine, uniform and complete with it’s original military neighborhood.
Inside The Commissary is warm and cozy fusing traditional Presidio pieces like lighting fixtures, Douglas Fir table tops that have been recycled and now used for communal tables. Modern elements are added into these classic decor items, to create an inviting atmosphere that’s open and fresh. Diners can also sit at stand alone tables, or opt to sit around a bar that surrounds the open kitchen in another room to see the busy chefs at work.
As stated before the food is Spanish based with local sustainable ingredients utilized to create a modern take on Spanish cuisine. Diners will want to share a few smaller dishes amongst their group to taste
the savory flavors that take familiar Spanish ingredients, and fuse local flavors like chili and pumpkin seeds. Worth trying are the calabaza croquettas with charred orange aioli, and the kale and treviso salad with braeburn apple topped with manchego traditional Spanish cheese. The latter was a nice twist on the kale salad. For dinner everyone should get their own entree. We loved the roasted chicken with frisee, marcona almonds and dates. The chicken was extremely tender and the accompaniment made for a nice Winter’s comfort dish. We also loved the NY steak, with broccoli rabe, potato-idiazabal gratin and mojo verde. The combination of flavors, and nice light spice from the mojo verde made this an exceptional Spanish inspired meal.
Cocktails are not to be missed as they have a full bar complete with signature cocktails. In fact I’d love to come and sit at the bar and order a few starter dishes with a friend sometime. Wine is kept simple, but well curated. The food really packs in a lot of flavor, so as expected the wine isn’t overpowering. We opted for the El Marciano (The Martian), with it’s nice acidity, red fruit and mineral notes that we felt paired perfectly with the intense flavor of the cuisine.
A Local’s Field Trip or a Traveler’s Foodie Destination
The Commissary is presented by The Presidio Trust and chef Traci Des Jardins, in partnership with Bon Apetit Management Company. The Presidio Trust launched Presidio Foods with the goal of presenting the park with healthy and delicious food options. The Trust plan to roll out future dining options in the park along with picnic and box lunch options. Arguello restaurant was the second restaurant to open last Fall of 2014. The unique destination of The Commisary, combined with the exceptional cuisine of a renowned chef should make this a local field trip for any San Franciscan, and a Traveler’s foodie destination. You can visit The Commissary at: http://www.thecommissarysf.com/