By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri Krasov
There is so much relativity in what’s big and what’s small. The entire world-famous city of San Francisco seems a kerchief-size neighborhood if you just came back from Asia (as I did right before having dinner at Bistro Central Parc). Yup, just a tiny little space on the Pacific Coast, and yet it has its own [miniscule] neighborhoods, each with its own weather, politics, and social structure. Take Western Addition, or rather NOPA (North of the Panhandle), called sometimes the Land of the Lost due to its remoteness from BART and MUNI. Who in the world would know what I am talking about but those who live in it and love it? But I digress. Bistro Central Parc is an ultimate neighborhood eatery, elegantly unassuming from the outside (even its name is written in half-visible script letters on the window), yet bustling with life on the inside, and filled with great French convivial atmosphere of joie de vivre. It comes as no surprise if you consider that Chef/Owner Jacques Manuera opened it after owning a widely popular Baker Street Bistro for 18 years.
Now, the NOPA dwellers are happily embracing his and Chef de Cuisine Nicolas Jardin’s traditional bistro dishes, from pungently sweet soup a l’oignon to perfectly medium rare filet mignon bathed in cognac-based sauce. While I was late for my reservation, due to my jet lag-induced coma, of course, I felt immediately better being seated at the polished metal bar and treated to a glass of Arboleda – a refreshingly complex sav blanc from Chile.
My bar neighbors, Michael and Debra, who live in the neighborhood for 32 years now and frequent the Bistro, were chatting with M. Jacques in-between their frisee aux lardons and risotto aux Coquille St. Jacques.
I was totally engaged with my artsy rabbit au jus, stuffed with spinach and little bits of foie gras. And then came the dessert.
What looked like a piece of thin yet stiff plastic mold to hold together an elaborate construction adorned with fresh strawberries and a golden caramel spiral, appeared to be also made of caramel, crunchy and edible. At my request, M. Jardin brought in an empty “plastic” form for a clearer (pun intended) view. Despite the extreme busy-ness, M. Jacques and his cheerful and courteous staff attended to every single guest, and at least three birthdays were celebrated that night in a tiny place that sits 34. My fun neighbors told me about the Bistro’s weekend brunch (Sat.-Sun. 9 am -3 pm) that spills outside, where there are 20 more seats for the admirers of NOPA’s morning fog, and I made a note to self to come again when I’m back to my normal waking hours.
Bistro Central Parc also offers a bargain-priced ($17.50) early bird three-course prix fixe Wed.-Sun. from 5 to 6 pm; is open on these days until 10:30 pm, and is located at 560 Central Ave., at the corner of Grove St., San Francisco. Call for reservations today at 415-931-7272.