The Palace is the name of the steak restaurant at the corner of Mission and Cesar Chavez that was briefly known as The Palace Steak & Pizza after it spent several decades as The Palace Family Steak House. Yet the name game is perhaps the least confusing thing about The Palace, which reopened under chef Manny Torres Gimenez in June.
For one, The Palace discourages walk-ins; diners are encouraged to make reservations by texting 415-666-5218.
Also, the Palace has an a la carte menu, but the focus is on are prix fixe dinners at $50 per person.
And most confusing at all is the fact that even though it still looks like the kind of greasy-spoon where Whitey Bulger would go to plot his next mob hit, The Palace now serves the kind of food that makes SF Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer swoon.
Here’s what The Bauer had to say about The Palace yesterday:
Earlier this year [Chef Manny] took over the Palace Steakhouse. Since he and his wife, Katrina De Porres, who handles the front of the house, have no investors, they did it all on their own. The interior is slightly more upscale, but there’s still paper napkins, bare tables and chairs that look like they came from a hospital lobby.
He invested most of his money in rebuilding the kitchen — putting in a rotisserie so he could roast whole animals, adding a French flat-top stove and buying equipment so he could produce better food. Now he creates a five-course savory menu for $50, as you can see in the photos above.
It doesn’t matter that the surroundings are little better than a diner; he’s now cooking food that he loves and would be at home at places like Michael Mina and Gary Danko.
With money running low, he had to open, so he still doesn’t have his liquor license. He hopes that if this venture is successful he will be able to close temporarily in January, blow out the ceiling, redo the interior and improve the dining experience.
He’s taking baby steps, but his passion for cooking shows on every plate.
Your Bernalwood editor feels like he has seen this movie before. We remember going to Mission Chinese Food quite frequently when it was just a bizarre hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant inside a hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant, with a clever young chef named Danny Bowien who was cranking out mind-expanding Szechuan-ish cuisine at reasonable prices. Then this happened, and this happened, and this happened, and now Mission Chinese Food has ridiculous lines out the door every night of the week… which makes us incredibly happy for Danny Bowien, but very sad for our spicy Chinese food cravings. (Take-out, FTW!)
So while your Bernalwood editor has not yet dined at The Palace, it now comes highly recommended by both The Bauer and Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable, which is about as broad a spectrum of endorsements as one could possibly hope to get.
It also means that since The Palace sits at the foot of Bernal Heights, we should all check it out now, and as soon as possible, while we still can… before it gets so crowded in the future that no one goes there anymore.
Oh, and don’t forget to listen to the still-classic Palace Family Steak House theme song:
PHOTOS: Top, Telstar Logistics. Below, Chicharron at The Palace by John Storey, SF Chronicle