By FAITH WHEELER
Only a few days after it opened on the corner of the busy intersection of California and Divisadero, B. on the Go already has the feeling of a neighborhood institution.
As you approach the refurbished building’s tasteful pewter-toned subway tiles and mysterious tinted windows and enter the sparsely decorated space, your eye immediately shifts behind the counter to the centerpiece: an enormous canary yellow French La Rotisserie wafting aromas of the daily fare.
Rotisserie will be the focus here for star pastry chef Belinda Leong and her partner, master baker Michel Suas, who also own the wildly popular B. Patisserie just across the way at 2821 California Street.
Leong is no stranger to the savory side of the menu. She grew up in the Marina, the daughter of Chinese parents who owned a Chinese sausage company. After initially studying to be a graphic designer, she shifted to focus on her love of baking, using the family factory to start her business.
Leong, known for perfecting the kouign-amann — the hard to pronounce (say “queen ah-mon”) buttery, flaky pastry — has quickly attracted legions of diehard fans to B. Patisserie. Now B. on the Go will offer fare for the lunch crowd, plus 800 square feet of space for dough production for the patisserie. Leong designed it with Suas, who also owns the San Francisco Baking Institute and is credited for his expert kitchen design for Bouchon, Acme and Tartine.
Four sandwiches — all made to order — take center stage, each on one of Suas’s specially formulated breads. According to Leong, the breads are made so precisely that her partner can determine how many holes to put in each ciabatta.
The Porchetta ($11.50), with tender cubes of pork and random cracklings throughout, is served on that perfect light and airy ciabatta, or slipper bun, nicely seasoned with lemony rocket and salsa verde.
The Cubano ($10.50), on its own pressed torta roll, incorporates the pig twice, with ham and roasted pork, plus melted Swiss cheese, mustard, mayo and housemade pickles.
The Sandwich Grec ($10.50), which Leong recalled longingly from her days in Paris, highlights the moist rotisserie chicken in a cool dill-flavored yogurt sauce with juicy summer tomatoes on a classic hoagie-like, fluffy roll — think banh mi — absorbing the juices perfectly.
The Grilled Cheese ($9) with mushroom duxelle is a showstopper. This crispy, delicate round, about a quarter-inch thick, folds into a half-moon shaped buttery, perfectly toasted, cheesy, gooey creation loaded with oven-roasted minced mushrooms with shallots and herbs. Suas is showing off his stuff here: He created the original loaf as a 90-inch drum with straight-up cylindrical sides. The result is an original bread concoction that folds like a quesadilla.
They plan to offer whole rotisserie chickens and porchetta off the spit soon.
Simple salads are pre-packaged to be walked out the door. The Curry Quinoa Salad ($6) with root vegetables is amply sized, the red quinoa and pickled orange carrots a super complement to the flavorful curry. Shrubs, or drinking vinegars, such as raspberry ginger and mango mint, infused in the restaurant for 10 days, serve as a nice digestif.
The movie star dessert is the chocolate banana pudding ($5.50) served in a German Weck canning jar — another grab from Leong’s European travels. It really hits the money with the perfect bittersweet chocolate pudding below and fresh bananas sliced on top with cream. There’s also a changing seasonal panna cotta.
It’s hard to resist taking home one of the grapefruit-sized cookies, including ginger molasses, chocolate peanut butter and oatmeal cherry toffee. But the lemon sable steals the show, with puckery lemon shortbread offsetting the light sugared glaze. All the sweets — and all other items on the menu — are different from the offerings across the street at the patisserie.
B. on the Go is a quick-service restaurant for locals and visitors alike. Linger at the 12 cafe seats — more are planned soon — or lean in to the long counter to determine which simple lunch to grab and go.
B. on the Go, at 2794 California, is open daily except Monday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 415-589-7112.
EARLIER: b. patisserie: pastry heaven
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