Awesome Pork Chop
Within a week, I had two of the best pork dishes of the year. And one of my favorite pork dishes from 2009 is the grilled pork chop from Monk’s Kettle, a gastro-pub in San Francisco’s Mission District.
The pork chop at Monk’s Kettle is simply outstanding. It’s double-cut thick with nice, tire-burn grill marks, and the perfect sunrise pink interior that’s tender, juicy, and hard to come up for air for after bite one. The chop (Coleman Natural Hampshire) has been brined in apple cider with brown sugar (and the necessary bay leaf)to really heighten the flavors. Did I say juicy?
The mustard sauce that swaddles the pork chop like a pale yellow superhero cape is utterly fantastic. It’s a creamy Bechamel sauce with stone ground mustard, a sort of plate-licking temptation that disappears instantly like a demon. You’ll not see much sauce remaining when your server collects your UFO-shaped dish.
The sides here are also great, making this dish one of my favorite pork dishes of 2009. And there’s enough on this plate to feed a substantially hungry person, either once or twice.
The orb-like accompanying side that appears to be a polenta imposter is actually a cheddar-scallion potato cake. Crunchy exterior, great surprise inside. So good I want it for breakfast. Chef Kevin Kroger uses house-cured bacon, not as just a tiny flavoring or afterthought to bolster the Brussel sprouts, but as another serious element. I think it’s actually the Fifth Element on this plate. I’m keen on bacon & Brussel sprouts, and this pairing favors Monk’s fine, crispy, maple-smoked bacon. The interplay between the elements in this dish is wonderful.
The Spot: Monk’s Kettle
Aside from simply the pork chop, Monk’s Kettle is one of the best places in San Francisco Bay Area to sample an astounding array of beers. Their 24 draught taps change 3 to 5 times weekly. The beer menu itself is 6 legal-sized pages listing (and explaining) a worldwide variety of familiars and odds, with prices that range from your low-budge suds (PBR and such) to party-like-a-rock-star froth (including champenoise-style beers that set you back between $45 and $60 for 12 oz.). The staff is authentically friendly, very knowledgeable about the beers they have, and enjoy helping folks match their flavor palette or dare into new territory. If you’re no pork chopper, just go by for a beer sometime.
The Grade: Awesome / Phenomenal (my highest grade)
The Damage: $24.50
The Skinny: Monk’s Kettle
3141 – 16th Street, San Francisco (between Valencia & Guerrero Streets)
Phone: (415) 865-9523