1601 Bar & Kitchen

San Francisco, California

After a brief fall from grace, small plates are back with a Sri Lankan splash. At SoMa’s austerely gray-and-black 1601 Bar & Kitchen, chef-proprietor Brian Fernando combines the complex flavors of his father’s Sri Lankan upbringing with his own training in the haute French arts (he cooked for 10 years at San Jose’s Le Papillon) and passion for tapas. The result: dishes as nouvelle as a geometric melon salad seasoned with nigella seeds, a deeply smoky slab of salmon (it’s the un-lox) dabbed with turmeric, and a cube of braised sturgeon haunted by black curry, or as traditional as the “hopper” (a fermented batter fried into a basket shape) served with an over-easy egg from a Jidori chicken (a trendy Japanese breed) and a pair of spicy sambal-like condiments. The wine list is global yet tightly edited; the beers on draft include such stars as the Fire­stone Walker Union Jack IPA. Don’t mistake the “aperitifs” for true cocktails, however—if you don’t like the taste of sherry, steer clear.

Last Reviewed
April 2016


1601 Howard St.
San Francisco, CA