Based in the Presido Heights district of San Francisco, the website for Michelin-starred Spruce gives the impression that it is a humble neighborhood restaurant. That’s rather like saying Jimi Hendrix was a guitar player: the description is factually correct, but it falls a long way short of giving the complete picture. The food, much of it sourced from the farmers at SMIP Ranch in Woodside is one thing: smart, fresh, modern Californian cooking from chef Mark Sullivan, in dishes such as purple top turnip soup, charred onion, olive oil jam, and crispy garlic; and roasted Sonoma chicken, chorizo roulade, baby artichokes, and chick peas.
Then there is the wine list, a 2,500-bin extravaganza that spans the globe, picking out a finely balanced choice of local, classic, and emerging regions. How many neighborhood restaurants have a wine list containing multiple vintages of big guns such as DRC, Chave, Raveneau, and Dagueneau? How many feature the Bordeaux first growths and the best of both opulent and elegant California, alongside cru Beaujolais, grower Champagne, and a killer selection of German Riesling and Oregon Pinot Noir? Not many, but this is a particular restaurant in a particular neighborhood.