I was excited to visit TBD because it seemed so mysterious. A restaurant that calls itself ‘to be determined’? It has no set menu but dishes that change with what’s available locally and seasonally. It leaves everything up in the air, up to chance. I had to go, had to know more about it. The more it kept me guessing, the more desirable it was.
The opportunity arose with the San Francisco foodie group, a collection of people based online that meet to dine out in small groups. Though new faces made me nostalgic for my Boston Bruncher and blogger friends, they were no less enthusiastic about trying new restaurants and finding new foods. And new foods we found… Ever wondered what Sea Urchin tastes like? Or seaweed in its entirety? Well, neither had I until I found these specimens on my plate, ready and waiting to be eaten.
Walking into TBD, it felt warm. Sitting down at our table felt very warm. The whole place is illuminated and heated by a giant open hearth fire. The atmosphere was somewhat like a picnic being prepared in a log cabin that’s featured in a modern living magazine. When you are brought to your table there is nothing on it, it’s a bare wooden desk-like structure. You are told that everything you’ll need is in the drawer in front of you. Alas, you pull it open to find your silverware, napkin, and menu folded neatly. I’d never seen anything of that sort before, but it proved very practical.
The menu is arranged with triangle symbols signifying categories of prices. It’s not very big, but there are many ingredients in each dish. We joked about ordering one of everything on the menu and in the end came very close to doing so.
I had a lot of fun with the food. I don’t know if they were the tastiest plates ever, but the key lay in trying new things, not comparing your meal to what you already know. I would definitely go back, but with people like the Foodies who appreciate food and all the strange creations it’s capable of, with those looking for an adventure not the best of a dish you can get somewhere else.
Did I mention we ordered a lot? I’ll break down each dish in one bold word to keep it simple.
Nicely Done: Seaweed Bread. This was one of the dishes that inspired this post’s title. This was not polite and docile sushi seaweed. No, this was real, I’m-not-joking-around-seaweed, the kind that would chase me out of the ocean when I was younger if it was heading towards me. Its bulbs were still intact, complete with a salty juice that oozed out of them when you bit into it. Childhood fears aside, something about the comfort of the bread and butter alongside it made the thing addicting to eat. It was a perfect harmony of tastes we’re used to and odd ones we’re not. But of course; tired of your normal bread and butter breakfast? Just add seaweed, duh.
I’ve had better: Carrots. I’m not a fan of the whole carrot and mint thing. I like both tastes, just not together. If you ask me, carrots are best warm and with other comfort foods. The sprouted lentils made the carrots seem hard, cold, and unfriendly.
More please: Leeks. Okay this baby was amazing. The leek and its sauce was slightly sweet, soft, warm, and different in a great way.
Comfort food upscaled: Crab grits. This and the next were my favorite dishes (only of the savory, of course). Another combination of interesting and not-so-much, the tasty crab married well with the porridge like substance that I usually avoid.
Something new every day: Uni, $18. Unfortunately the sea urchin was photo-shy but picture this: a bed of white and purple potatoes topped with what looked like inch-long pieces of bright pink human tongue. Sorry, that’s the most accurate way to describe what the urchin looked like. It didn’t taste like that though, it was very soft and mild, almost melting in your mouth. Good thing our tongues don’t do that. The jalepeño and scallion were good additions in case you weren’t a fan of the taste.
How Will I fund my addiction?: Deconstructed s’mores. UM, I would go back for this in a heartbeat. I was so full I didn’t even plan on ordering dessert and that never happens. Alas, I agreed to share this dish and ended up eating 75% of it.. oops.
1105 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA