Plow (San Francisco): An All-American restaurant strives for simplicity — even on its beverage menu

Plow offers a brief wine and beer list and one signature cocktail, a colorful and refreshing blood orange mimosa. Photo by Colleen Stockmann

The word simple pops up a lot when describing Plow, the popular Potrero Hill breakfast-and-lunch eatery.

The restaurant’s design is simple but lovely.  Its home-style menu features simple but delicious food.  So it’s not surprising that owners Joel Blaskacek and Maxine Siu have kept Plow’s beverage list simple as well.

The restaurant also serves wholesome non-alcoholic beverages, including organic orange juice and house-brewed iced tea. Photo by Peter Belanger

In addition to serving a short list of non-alcoholic drinks — including Five Mountains organic tea, orange juice, homemade lemonade, Coca Cola made with cane sugar, and more — the restaurant offers a limited selection of wine and beer.

The couple, who also own Ruby Wine down the street, serve just 12 wines — four whites, five reds and three sparklings — and almost all fall into the $22 to $38/bottle ($6 to 11/per glass) range.

Obviously, with Plow’s emphasis on localness and with Wine Country so close, many of the restaurant’s offerings are from small, dedicated California producers. These wines include, for example, Robert Sinskey Pinot Gris ($38) and Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel ($38/$10).

But Plow also offers a few European wines as well, such as a red Domaine du Deffends ($26/7) from Provence, and the eatery’s most expensive offering, Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve Champagne ($90).

“No matter how local you are, you have to have a few French wines,” Blaskacek explains.

Although a wine expert, Blaskacek is not inclined to suggest pairings with Plow’s farmhouse food.

“I’m an anti-pairing guy,” he says.  “To me, it’s half the fun to experiment.”

Plow’s beer list is also very concise and local-minded.  Draught North Coast Scrimsaw Pilsner ($5) comes from Fort Bragg, and bottled Anchor Steam ($4) is brewed just three blocks from the restaurant.  Blaskacek’s only non-regional offering is Hamm’s ($3) in a can, which he imports from his native Wisconsin and carries for some of his “hipster” customers.

The restaurant offers one signature cocktail — a blood orange mimosa ($8.50) made with freshly squeezed juice.  My friend Colleen and I happily started off our meal with one of these pretty little babies.

Plow's crowds enjoy mugs of locally-roasted Equator coffee with Chef Maxine Siu's American breakfast fare. Photo by Colleen Stockmann

Of course, with so many breakfast items on the menu, Plow also serves lots and lots of coffee.  Servers will even run out with steaming mugs to customers patiently waiting in line outside.  Colleen and The Husband happily enjoyed a few cups while we hung out for 45 minutes on the corner of 18th and Texas; as for me, I was holding out for that mimosa.

The restaurant’s preferred brand is Equator ($2.75), a top-quality artisan coffee roasted in San Rafael.  When sourcing java, Equator “blew us away,” Blaskacek says.

The coffee’s acidity balances out the rich, hearty breakfast food Siu cooks up in her kitchen, he adds.  But customers also enjoy it for another simple reason:  “It’s our culture.  People want coffee for breakfast….It’s the way we’re wired.  It’s the same way champagne goes well with New Year’s.”

1299 18th Street
San Francisco, California  94107

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