Beef Tartare, Sushi Rice, Ikura, Toasted Nori. Photo courtesy Ernest

The RundownSan Francisco

Everything You Need to Know About Ernest, Now Open in the Mission

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Ernest

4.8 · Californian · $$$

Mission

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Before you go to a new restaurant, what do you want — or need — to know most? In this new series, The Rundown, we’re sharing all the essentials about newly opened Resy restaurants.  

This is Ernest in the Mission, which recently opened for outdoor dining. Here’s everything you need to know.

Isn’t it spelled ‘Earnest’?

The restaurant is named after chef Brandon Rice’s grandfather, Ernest. He was an important person in Rice’s life growing up in Roanoke, Va. Grandpa Ernest was a butcher and owned his own meat market, providing Rice with his first formative food memories and experiences.

Great, tell us more about Brandon Rice!

Rice went to culinary school right out of high school, attending the CIA in Hyde Park, New York. During his culinary career over the last decade-plus, he worked at now-shuttered Clio in Boston under Ken Oringer, was a sous chef at Coi, and most recently was chef de cuisine at Rich Table.

Coconut-lime shaved ice. Photo courtesy Ernest

So what’s he cooking up at Ernest?

In the current iteration, the menu is divided up into sections: Oysters/Raw Bar; Snacks; Salads and Vegetables; and Meat and Seafood, plus some large-format options, like a whole duck. There’s also a $95 option of letting the kitchen cook for you.

You can come to this restaurant over and over again and get a different experience — you can order a bunch of small things, you could order big sharable proteins (I’m looking at your dry aged cote de Boeuf), or you could go bigger with the $95 menu (warning: you’ll need to be rolled home).

What’s more, Rice plans on changing four to five dishes per week depending on what’s looking good at the farmers’ market. Already, there are some menu main-stays and must orders, though: Beef tartare topped with ikura and served over sushi rice with nori for you to make handrolls; fluffy Parker House rolls with house cultured butter; and a creamy “uni carbonara” which Rich Table regulars will instantly recognize.

The bar at Ernest.

What if we’re thirsty?

Cocktails are done by Max Alexander, who has worked at Nopa and The Progress, and the wine director is Dominique Henderson, who worked with Rice at Rich Table — and also happens to own Gemini Bottle Co., a wonderful bottle shop just a few blocks away.

Her list features small production natural wines from around the world and mirror Brandon’s mindset of food by supporting sustainable growers and farmers who care for their land.

The upstairs dining room at Ernest.

And what about the space?

The restaurant is located in a two-leveled space that used to be Coffee Bar, on the corner of Florida and Mariposa. It was redesigned by architect Charles Hemminger, who also worked on other beautiful restaurants like Cala, State Bird Provisions, Flour+Water, and the nearby Tartine Manufactory.

Huge windows on the front entrance let in tons of natural light to shine into the industrial space full of polished stainless steel. The bottom floor is the bar, and stairs lead into the dining room that will eventually seat 56 seats once indoor dining resumes at full capacity. But for now, the only option is outdoor seating on the patio, full of space heaters in between tables.

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