Marlowe is a bomb-ass bistro style eatery in the industrial + artsy SoMa neighborhood of San Francisco. That stands for South of Market, in case you’re not familiar with the greatest city in the world. Marlowe does brunch, lunch, and dinner – all are worth your while, but today we are focussing on brunch. No. 1 of my new “Best Brunches in SF” series. Some people don’t understand San Franciscans and their brunch. Yes, we take it seriously. It’s kind of a sport in our eyes. But basic? Hell no. (Disclaimer, I did just come from a Sat morning Zumba class in The Marina before this mid-morning micro-feast… infringing on basic bitch, I am aware). Marlowe is too cool to be basic – I will show you why. With interior design inspired by butcher shops, a nod to their meat-centric menu, with taxidermy cattle, art prints of pigs marked with cut-lines post slaughter, chicken wire shaped floor tiles, you get the picture – the space is very cool. Let’s talk about the sips and the bites:
Centered by a big beautiful bar, busting with rad aperitifs, liqueurs, and a hefty gin collection (Uncle Val’s FTW – this gin is a garden in your mouth) – you know you’re in good hands when it comes to cocktails.
More Cowbell: Barrel-aged 209 gin, lemon, Aperol & Cardamaro
Pucker up, this tangy and sweet, citrussy cocktail has zesty orange notes, balanced by the sweetness of lemon juice and the aromatic flush of toasty and botanical No. 209 barrel aged gin. Try it, it just might have you saying, “more cowbell.”
The Calf – Novo Fogo cachaça, pineapple juice, lime & Serrano chile agave
Gorgeous chartreuse pop of color, this tropical cocktail is perfect – in that it’s not too tropical. I can get very tired of rum, but cachaça, I would never. I know I have talked about cachaça before – its a Brazilian kind of rum. The calf tastes like banana, and pineapple, a tad grassy from the cachaça and it’s got a kick of spicy sweetness from the chile agave. Love this one. I’ve ordered it a few times!
Brussels Sprout Chips: with Meyer lemon zest & sea salt
Guys, don’t do crack, it’s not good for you! Although, I highly recommend these Brussels Sprout chips which I am mostly convinced are laced with cocaine. Flash fried in rice bran oil and seasoned with salt and Meyer lemon zest. Sounds simple, but these bad boys with ruin you for all veggie chips (and yes, they kick Kale Chips’ ass – hard). Rumor is they’re not always on the menu, but they can’t go 30 min. without an “off the menu” request. How many Brussels Sprout dishes do you know that have a cult following?
The Smoked Salmon: Grilled bagel, avocado, alfalfa sprouts, cucumber, shaved vegetables and citrus
Quite possibly the most gorgeous brunch plate I have ever been served. This meal, #icanteven – I am in love. Smoked salmon is kind of my jam, and this expression of the classic ‘Bagel and Lox’ dish does not disappoint. It’s light, tantalizing, bright, and really quite moving. The smoked salmon has a tender and delicate texture. It’s smooth and silky and matched perfectly with smashed avocado and a bed of shaved vegetables – a mini garden almost. With razor thin radishes, cucumber, carrots, topped with frisée greens, cilantro leaves and a lemony olive oil dressing, this rustic farm to table meal would make Peter Rabbit himself blush.
Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta: Marinated berries, Bertina Elderflower & seeded granola
Custardy smooth vanilla heaven fluff, garnished with toasted oats, seeds, and nuts. A nice alternative to typical Panna Cotta made with heavy-ass cream, this Greek yogurt based molded dessert makes for a nice light brunch bite! The berries are juicy, tart, and explosive. Nutty grains anchor this air light meal, and balance each mouthful. Try it, or diet.
No, we did not even order dessert, but our AMAZING server, Samantha treated us to this delish AF dessert that possibly changed all of our lives and made us loyal Marlowe patrons for life. Our buttons were busting a lil’ more than we planned, but so worth it. So very worth it. #dessertstomach
Loretta’s Vacherin: Coffee ice cream, meringue, toasted almond and chocolate sauce
Did it hurt? When this dessert fell from heaven? I would assume the spongy meringue base broke it’s fall. Loretta, damn girl. I am a huge fan of layered desserts, built with dope ingredients. This one starts with a soft bed of custard cream speckled with vanilla bean, then comes a foundation of air light meringue, crunchy and sticky on your teeth like English toffee, then a scoop of locally-milked coffee ice cream (thanks, Bay Area Cow!), dressed with rich chocolate ganache, drizzling & oozing like it just don’t care, and sprinkled with toasted almonds. Girl, you best unbutton that top button to fit this one in your brunch belly, so worth it.
Marlowe is truly a gem. The fare is top-knotch, the staff is very friendly and knowledgable. The cool vibes are off the charts. If you’re ever downtown, below Market, hit up Marlowe. I think you’ll like it. And remember, don’t waste your time or taste buds on a bad meal. You are worth so much more.