Bluestem Restaurant and Market located in the heart of downtown San Francisco celebrated its 10th anniversary last year and with it managed to weather the peak of the pandemic and reemerge as a stronger, more comprehensive one-stop shop for hungry shoppers looking for dining experience, whether it be a quick midday lunch or a five-course dinner.
With a menu focused on using the highest quality ingredients Northern California has to offer, combined with the global diversity of cultures and flavors that San Francisco is known for, Bluestem offers diners a unique selection. plates to share. The new menu is inspired by the many culinary traditions and techniques brought by waves of immigration spanning more than two centuries to the city.
“Bluestem has always been committed to local and sustainable cuisine,” says Adam Jed, co-founder of Bluestem Restaurant & Market. “With the reopening, we decided to focus on California coastal dishes, the ingredients that grow here, and the cultural influences of the many waves of immigration that have shaped this region today.”
On the other side of the restaurant is the Bluestem craft market. Market produce is inspired by their chef’s pantry, offering a carefully curated snapshot of the Bay Area’s incredible community of local food artisans. Customers can expect to find pastry chef Lori Baker’s freshly baked Cinnamon Crunch babka muffins, prepared in limited quantities each morning, Nespresso coffee, cold-pressed juices and wellness shots, sandwiches, salads, snacks, prepared meals, pantry staples, including artisan coffees and sea salts, plus vegan soft serve.
We sat down with Adam Jed, co-founder of Bluestem Restaurant & Market to discuss the restaurants 10 years in business, the new menu and market offerings and more. Here’s what he had to say.
Bluestem celebrated its 10th anniversary last year — how has the establishment evolved since its opening? In what ways has it grown and changed over the past decade?
Bluestem’s core philosophy has remained consistent over the years. We are dedicated to farmers and ranchers who practice sustainable techniques, focusing on those who bring only the highest quality ingredients and share our ethos at the forefront of our culinary vision.
Over the past decade, Bluestem has continued to perfect not only its menu offerings, but also the way we offer our products.
Talk about the new market and offers.
The foodservice consumer has evolved significantly over the years and our mission continues to be to meet that customer wherever they are. We recently launched a marketplace that showcases the ingredients we use to produce our seasonal menu, allowing our customers to take home (or give as gifts) unique ingredients that can enhance any kitchen. . We have also added a “delicatessen” section of daily take-out dishes and meal accompaniments that the guest can grab either by pickup or delivery.
Within the restaurant, we’ve added enhanced features, an oyster bar and BAOninis, our new take on San Francisco street food. We have “opened up” the space; the addition of live plants and a new layout provides a more airy and comfortable floor plan. We have also added the ability for our customers to order and pay at the table, implementing QR technology and order when ready.
Many of our menu items are now lighter, with a greater emphasis than ever on vegetables, nuts and seeds; because it’s a diet that supports a more sustainable ecosystem. We’ve also redesigned our menu so we can serve customers faster and cross-use ingredients in our restaurant and market to help eliminate food waste.
Bluestem has taken a big hit like most restaurants during the pandemic. How did you weather that period and how did you have to pivot to stay afloat?
The entire San Francisco Bay Area has been affected during the pandemic. Many of the changes we have seen over the past two years in particular are no different than many other businesses have faced during this time, it is our responsibility to determine how to meet the new demand.
Due to the pandemic, we have had the opportunity to dive deep into many of the challenges we have faced in the hospitality industry and use this as an opportunity to challenge our beliefs and explore ways to improve. improve the industry. We have changed our working model, eliminating tipping and moving to a menu price structure that includes tipping and introducing profit distribution for all Bluestem shared among all associates.
We also guarantee our teammates full-time employment, 40 hours a week, with health, dental, vision, 401K, financial planning, and programs like AFLAC, to help them when those unexpected situations arise. occur. We train our associates to take on more responsibility and learn important tasks, all to prepare them for their future (wherever they go), while also making everyone stronger teammates.
It costs the business more financially – but we know that everyone needs the opportunity to actively develop their own personal growth plans, and everyone contributes to making the restaurant even better.
What is the inspiration for the menu? Menu highlights? Talk about your new all-day brunch menu – why brunch and why change?
We focus on Northern California coastal dishes, working with sustainable local farmers, ranchers and producers to showcase local foods and recognizing how different waves of immigration have shaped our food system.
We realized that with so much working from home, meal times aren’t as regulated as they used to be, so we’ve moved to an all-day menu – and given that brunch has always been a favorite meal time and people love our brunch products, we wanted to make select items available all day – every day.
Menu highlights include our signature BAOnini which we have created to provide a delicious and portable meal to enjoy on the go – adapting the flavors we know and love. Others include a crispy pork belly sandwich, decadent truffle grilled cheese and our kimchi corn fritters; and of course the two items we couldn’t remove from our menu were our Brown Butter Cornbread with Honey Butter and our Honolulu Hangover Cake.
What can customers expect when dining here as opposed to other downtown restaurants?
By putting the power to order in the hands of every guest, we can now personalize experiences to meet exactly when our guests are looking for when they’re ready. By relaxing the traditional reservation-style approach to dining, we’ve been able to offer a more family-friendly style of service.
We’re selling a crazy amount of oysters right now. But what really sets us apart is that we are open all day and you can customize your own experience, you can get in and out in 10 minutes or you can have a 3 course meal with drinks. You can eat here or grab something to take away. You can come for a drink and dessert after visiting a museum or have a pre-theatre dinner before a show or ballet.
Talk about the cocktail menu and popular sips
Like our cuisine, our cocktails are made with local, seasonal ingredients inspired by California cuisine and the people who call it home. A popular drink is the Bravocado with rum, avocado, citrus, mint and herbs.
Another is the Cioppino inspired by San Francisco’s signature seafood stew, it’s like a lighter clarified Bloody Mary with tequila, mezcal, salted tomato water, lime, juice clams and hot serrano pepper.
Anything new in preparation for the rest of the season?
Our menu is seasonal so we are working on new dishes. We are also working on introducing new items for our retail market, especially as we enter summer we want to offer more on-the-go items that you can enjoy on the go, whether for hang out at Crissy Field or enjoy a picnic at a local park. We’ll have pre-marinated meats to grill, our own barbecue sauce, a collection of salads, sides and hot sauces, and cookies and cakes to go.