Sardine Chips ($7)
"We wanted to have little bites that people could order with a cocktail," said Sarah Rich. This snack was inspired by an amuse that they used to serve at Bouley. "It's our play on it," says Rich. Sardine fillets are threaded through each chip before frying, and then served with a whipped horseradish creme fraiche.
Charred Rabe ($5)
This crisp-tender broccoli rabe is tossed with a black garlic purée and lemon juice. "We went to the market and just picked it up today, and to me that's exciting," says Evan Rich. "At Bouley [in New York] we used pounds of butter, and it tastes great, it's lovely. But out here, going to a restaurant doesn't mean you have to weigh yourself down. Though we didn't really plan it that way, half of our stuff is vegetarian," notes Rich.
Wild Fennel Levain ($4)
Yes, the bread, fragrant with wild fennel, is made in house, with a starter they feed every day. The butter's made in house too, with added character from a culture Evan Rich learned to use at Coi. Rich says the 7-day butter making process is "super easy, but for me it's really special."
Corn Fritters ($5)
The corn is roasted with espelette and bechamel, and then rolled in local cornmeal and fried. "Then we hit it with salt and nutritional yeast," says Evan Rich, in a nod to hippie-California cuisine. The crisp fritters are topped with a salsa verde of cilantro, pickled shallot, and diced radish.
Duck Breast ($21)
The duck is left on the bone when roasting, then served with seasonal stone fruit and farro that has cooked in brown butter until it's nearly burned. ("To the point where you're like, oh, man, I f*cked that up," instructs Evan Rich.) Rich is very mindful of balance—he uses vegetable stock in the farro rather than duck stock to keep the dish from being too rich, and adds vinegar to the sauce to offset the fruit's sweetness.
A wall of names in the back room honors those who helped the restaurant open though donations on Kickstarter.