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Bluestem Brasserie

SOMA: A sleek setting for a meat-focused menu.

Bluestem is a kind of grass consumed by many cattle and, in turn, by many of the diners at this downtown brasserie. They get it in the smartly prepared steaks and assorted classic cuts that range from sautéed calves’ liver to fork-tender brisket with slaw and beans. Under chef Sean Canavan, the kitchen makes entreaties to daintier interests—scallop-garnished gazpacho dances lightly on the palate—but its strength lies with the hefty proteins, especially the house-made sausages: The ones made with lamb and spiced with berbere are apt to spark a knife fight if you try to share. The dining room is run by Adam Jed, a veteran of Gavin Newsom’s PlumpJack Group, who works hard to generate an air of intimacy. But the place still calls to mind the former mayor himself: handsome, outsize, a shade corporate. As evening progresses and the bar becomes the setting for a few too many back slaps, solace can be found in Canavan’s cooking, which is more compelling than its surrounds.

1 Yerba Buena Lane (at market St.), S.F.
415-547-1111
$$$ RW ★★

 

Our review policy: To ensure that we get a typical consumer’s experience in a restaurant, our writers dine anonymously; all expenses are paid by the magazine. Reviews are pulled from our listings two years after the review date or any time personnel changes at a restaurant render a review invalid. Our admittedly imperfect star ratings are based on food quality, variety, service, ambience, and value.
Staff reviewers and contributors to our restaurant guide include John Birdsall, Susan Bryan, Stett Holbrook, Rachel Levin, Jan Newberry, Josh Sens, and Lisa Trottier.

Prices:
Average price of an entrée:
$ = $10 or less
$$ = $11–17
$$$ = $18–24
$$$$ = $25 or more

Symbols:
D = Dinner only
R = Reservation required/recommended
C = Cash only
V = Valet parking
W = Wheelchair accessible

Ratings:
★★★★ = superlative
★★★ = excellent
★★ = very good
★ = good
✩ = below average