Our San Francisco correspondent seeks out organic food and crafted space at Rich Table in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley.
Rich Table >
Last week I met with husband and wife team Evan and Sarah Rich behind the newly opened Rich Table. It was the morning after a busy Sunday night service and they were surprisingly relaxed considering how much has happened in the few months since they got the lease for their space. Rich Table opened in July and they have been serving up delicious food to a full house most nights since. Even when the restaurant is closed on Tuesday they are up early, scouting around in one of the Bay area’s amazing farmers markets finding ingredients to inspire their daily changing menu.
The restaurant is a lovely, light space, lots of natural wood and materials with personal touches everywhere. Evan and Sarah worked very closely with the design team as the concept evolved, rolling their sleeves up and doing a lot of the work themselves, sanding down the beams and ripping off the dry wall. This involvement is evident throughout – Evan’s handiwork etching Rich into the stripped beam through to the hand picked wood from Petaluma in Northern California. All elegant hints to complement their food ethos ‘we work really hard to make things seem simple and tasty’, serving distinctive fine dining quality food in a casual, vibrant, modern environment.
‘We swapped the Lower East Side in New York for ocean views in San Francisco’s Presidio.’
Evan and Sarah met about ten years when working together at New York’s Bouley, Evan jokes that Sarah was his boss and basically told him ‘no date, no job’. They have been together ever since and got married in 2008. The decision to move to San Francisco followed, putting all their belongings into storage and buying two one-way tickets to LA. Picking up Sarah’s mum’s car at LAX they drove along the West Coast, from LA to Seattle. They toyed with the idea of settling in Portland, but San Francisco felt right. Both have worked in some of the best kitchens in the Bay Area – Michael Mina, Quince and Coi – but started to explore their own restaurant last year with their pop up venture ‘Chef’s night off’ – taking over kitchens in different, local restaurants for the night. Working out what worked and what didn’t, they built up a great reputation and menu ideas at the same time.
Rich Table is a real collaboration – they have worked with most of the team for a number of years and all end the day sitting around a table talking about the events and the menu. And with a daily changing menu there’s always a lot to talk about. Evan is happily enthusiastic about the huge emphasis placed on the quality of ingredients and where they come from. They source as much as possible locally and have formed some great relationships with local suppliers who share the same passion for quality as they do.
‘One of the beautiful curses of living here: there is lots of fresh produce to inspire – go to the market and see what looks good! And you can do this all year round, the market is still full of good stuff in winter!’
Sarah and Evan’s food inspirations
Food dream: to visit Chateaubriand in Paris.
Food memory: A curry stand in the ShiJu market in Japan where an old lady has been serving bowls of steaming delicious curry to locals for years.
Family food: Evan’s mother’s sugar snap peas with horse radish and honey mustard.