Alta SF has two locations – the established one on Market Street, and the new MSP (Minnesota Street Project). The latter is all the way down in the Dogpatch, but it’s the only one of the two that serves brunch, so off we went this weekend. It’s a fairly small space – when I called in to make a reservation for 12, the hostess had to confirm with the chef that the kitchen could handle us. Thankfully they were able to accommodate, but they warned ahead of time that our dishes might come out a bit slowly due to the relatively small size of the kitchen.
The Uber ride down took us through a less than attractive neighborhood – my co-brunchers were taking bets on whether I’d actually just lured them here to murder them – but once we arrived, everything looked great. The inside only had a few shared tables and a long bar (plus us taking up two of those shared tables for ourselves). It wasn’t especially crowded; besides us there were mostly small groups who came and went over the course of a couple of hours.
$20 gets you Alta SF’s “Bottomless Mimosa Lab,” which comprises champagne and accompanying juices/syrups/bitters served in Erlenmeyer flasks of various sizes (important note: I don’t actually know if they were Erlenmeyer… that’s just the only kind of flask I remember from AP Chem). Anyway, it made for some excellent Instagramming. Alongside a large flask of champagne, there were smaller ones of orange juice, bitters, watermelon syrup and blackberry syrup. We tried everything at first, but by the end we were mostly just drinking straight champagne.
The first couple of rounds were a bit slow, but once they caught onto the pace of our imbibing, they kept the champagne coming quickly.
The menu is limited and not especially complex, but everything they do, they do well. We started with some beignets, which were fresh, just flaky/crispy enough and accompanied with a side of blackberry compote. We also got deviled eggs for the table – if you like deviled eggs, you’ll love these, as they come topped with furikake (a Japanese seasoning that’s basically salty/savory), sesame seeds and a few drops of a hot sauce that was vaguely like sriracha.
After that I made the incredibly adult decision to skip past the brunch dishes and just have the strawberry shortcake sundae for my meal. It was pretty simple – basically a slice of lemon poppyseed cake topped with vanilla soft serve and fresh strawberries. Just the right amount of sweet, though the cake was a little dense for my taste. The rest of the table went with actually brunch foods, and surprisingly enough the standout for me was the Alta scramble. Usually I stay away from simple dishes like scrambles in order to get a taste for the more specialty stuff on the menu, but there’s a reason they put their name on this dish. The eggs were quite possibly the best I’ve ever had – they were light, fluffy and had a bit of dill, which was amazing. I also tried some of the breakfast sandwich and their grilled levain bread (with burrata and fresh tomatoes), but the scramble was easily the best of them.
The employees were very friendly both in helping me get my reservation made and serving us once we arrived. The restaurant doesn’t have a ton of staff due to its size, but everybody was helping out, and the food came out at a totally reasonable pace despite their warnings up front. One member of the group got the wrong dish, but they replaced it quickly. The waiter also only chuckled minimally when I ordered a sundae for brunch.
The worst thing about Alta SF is the location, but it’s worth the Uber ride. The space is well designed, the bottomless is just novel enough to be amusing and the food is spot on. This is a worthy new entrant to SF’s bottomless brunch scene.