This Chic San Francisco Eatery Transports You to Paris

At Petit Marlowe, San Francisco’s new oysterette, small plates take center table with a menu that’s made for easy holiday gatherings.

Taupe Portrait
Photography by LAURIE FRANKEL

When opening Petit Marlowe, the little sister to Marlowe bistro located just a few blocks away—and part of the Big Night Restaurant Group that also includes Leo’s Oyster Bar and The Cavalier—co-owner Anna Weinberg (above left) aimed to re-create an authentic French buvette.

With designer Ken Fulk, she went straight to the source, the Paris flea markets, to find the tobacco-hued marble bar, intricate iron barstools, and vintage industrial lighting fixtures. Next came buttery peach leather banquettes, a communal farm table, and whimsical custom wallpaper inspired by the Beatrix Potter character Jemima Puddle-Duck. 

“I wanted it to feel like a wine bar in Paris where people have been smoking cigarettes for 300 years,” Weinberg muses. She modernized the space by positioning the raw bar right in the front window, so passersby can watch the oyster shuckers in action.

Taupe and Wood Entryway
Photography by LAURIE FRANKEL

The menu, explains chef-partner Jennifer Puccio (above right), also goes beyond the standard cheese and charcuterie. Instead, she highlighted her preferred restaurant eating style of “ordering 10 things and taking a few bites of each”—which in the case of Petit Marlowe means oysters (of course), crudo, sumptuous terrines, and veggies with fresh, zippy flavors. 

The approach is perfectly suited to holiday entertaining. Shared plates keep everyone “milling about and not just having an eating marathon,” says Puccio (and also allow home chefs to splurge on key ingredients in smaller quantities, rather than the usual showpiece roast). An added bonus: In petite portions, each dish delivers rich, warming comfort without the gluttony hangover.

White and Yellow Food
Photography by LAURIE FRANKEL

DEVILED EGGS THREE WAYS

This dinner party classic is an ideal make-ahead finger food, but, Petit Marlowe chef-partner Jennifer Puccio says, “There’s only so much deviled egg texture you can take.” She adds variety (and visual play) to her version by offering a trio of garnishes—black olive and jalapeño, spicy ’nduja sausage, anchovy and Parmesan—as well as mixing pickled shallots (minced shallots soaked in lemon juice) into the filling. The results: a fun crowd-pleaser with a kick.

White and Wood Food
Photography by LAURIE FRANKEL

FG&J (Foie Gras & Jam)

An adult version of the PB&J, this Petit Marlowe mainstay can be whipped up in five minutes. Spread a tear of crusty baguette with seasonal jam, like cranberry, blood orange, or other winter citrus, and slices of ice-cold foie gras. Warm sandwich in a panini press (or briefly on broil in the oven) until it gets crispy on the outside but the foie stays relatively cool and solid. Serve on a big platter with festive jam jars and extra foie gras.

Serves 2

  • 4-inch piece baguette
  • 2 tbsp seasonal jam 
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1 ½ oz foie gras terrine, sliced
Slice the baguette to make a hinged sandwich, and spread a tablespoon of jam on each half of the sandwich. Season with sea salt. Then cut ¼-inch slices of the foie gras terrine and lay close to one another on the baguette. Close the sandwich and warm on a panini press (or quickly in oven) until the bread is hot and crispy. Serve warm.

Black and Taupe Food
Photography by LAURIE FRANKEL

Smoked Cod Dip & Fingerling Potatoes

Going for the effect of a brandade, Puccio’s spin on the traditional creamy spread makes potatoes the vehicle for dipping rather than the filler—while vibrant salmon roe keeps the dish special-occasion fancy. To get the right consistency, poach fingerlings until still firm, then plunge them into an ice bath for a crisp-yet-tender texture.

Serves 6–8

  • 1 filleted salt cod, soaked and poached in milk until tender 
  • 1 filleted fresh black cod, roasted until cooked, then cold smoked ½ cup crème fraîche 
  • Mild extra virgin olive oil
  • 15 large fingerling potatoes
  • 4 oz salmon roe 
  • Small bunch of dill ¼ small red onion, thinly sliced
Blend the fish together with a tabletop mixer, using a paddle attachment; add the crème fraîche, season to taste, and top with a healthy pour of olive oil. Serve with al dente poached potato slices, sea salt, and coarse black pepper. Sprinkle salmon roe on top of the dip, along with freshly trimmed dill and a few pieces of thinly sliced red onion.

This story originally appeared in the Winter 2017 issue with the headline Small Wonders.

Read more from the Winter 2017 issue:
Reese Witherspoon's New Venture Is All About Empowering Women
A Minimalist Los Angeles Home Where Quiet Is Key
Inside the Domino Office, Where Good Vibes Rule

Published on December 23, 2017 - 5:15am EST

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