Featured Foodie: Michael Francis

Chef Michael Francis at Southside Spirit House

Chef Michael Francis at Southside Spirit House

San Francisco’s bustling SoMA neighborhood is getting a new bar?  Don’t yawn just yet. The Southside Spirit House (opening Friday May 3) is claiming to be a different breed from the fancy cocktails served in swank pretentious digs we're used to. Southside Spirit House, in the location of the former Eve Lounge, intends to breathe new life into the way we enjoy cocktails. 

"Our goal is to make our guests feel comfortable enough to order a drink without an MBA in mixology, while creating a vibe that makes them want to stay and linger," owner Colin O'Malley said in a press release.

To do that, he’s thinking about food. Because any place that has the tag line “pick your poison” (at least on their Facebook page) is going to need some serious eats. Enter Chef Michael Francis.

Previously of Compton Place and La Folie Lounge, and most recently a sous chef at Google, the Iowa native has curated a menu at Southside Spirit House that’s unexpected yet comforting, which appeals to San Franciscans and their casually sophisticated style. Deviled eggs with bacon, crème fraiche, and truffled popcorn? Fresh figs with Stilton cheese and thyme? Beats beer nuts, and don't even get Francis started on olives (see below).  All menu items pair expertly with Southside’s expansive selection of rare and fine spirits and cocktails made with fresh ingredients like house made roasted blueberry syrup and flamed orange.  

“The food at Southside will feature local, in season produce in a very approachable way.  We want to have a very comfortable and relaxing atmosphere, so the food is to be shared with your friends while cheering on the San Francisco Giants,” said Francis.

Southside will serve food late, until 1am Mon-Saturday, and the décor will be as approachable as the bar. I like the wall of cassette tapes they've got  inside because I’m guessing any young hipster born after 1990 won’t have a clue what those pre iTunes relics are.

That should make for interesting conversations over deviled eggs and flaming orange peel, and I get a feeling that's what the Southside Spirit House is all about.

The Foodie 5

1. What is your favorite food memory from childhood?

Going to the farmers’ market for sweet corn during the summer in Iowa.  It was often a neighborhood event where everyone would bring meat and grill it to eat with the corn.

2. You’re moving to a new kitchen in 5 minutes and can only take one gadget along with you. What do you grab and why ?

My chef's knife.

3. No one’s looking. What is your secret food fetish?  

Girl Scout Cookies.  I will never understand why I can't have these year round.

4. Fill in the blanks:   “I’d like to see more _________on restaurant menus and a lot less  _______.

I'd like to see more farm eggs on menus and less olives.  I don't like olives at all.

5. Congratulations! You have carte blanche to dine in anywhere in the world. Where would you go and why?

Argentina!  Beef and red wine day and night.

If you'd like to be a featured foodie, contact kimberley@kimberleylovato.com


Kimberley Lovato

Kimberley Lovato has written about travel, lifestyle and food for national and international publications and websites including National Geographic Traveler, Executive Travel, American Way, AFAR, Condé Nast Traveller (UK), Ryan Air, b.there, Easy Jet Traveller, leitesculinaria.com and frommers.com, among others. She is the author of a Michelin Guidebook on Brussels, where she lived for six years Her culinary travel book, Walnut Wine & Truffle Groves, about the Dordogne region of France, won the "Best Travel Book" nod in 2012 from the Society of American Travel Writers, as did her personal essay, "Lost and Liberated," which also appeared in Best Women's Travel Writing, Volume 8. When she's not plotting her next trip or her annual pilgrimage to France, she resides in San Francisco where she is a correspondent for BBC's Passport Blog, a student in Stanford University's Creative Writing Certificate program, and a brave mother of a teenaged girl.