Besharam [Dogpatch, San Francisco]

GF and I went to Besharam last night. I thought it would be packed after being short-listed for the Eater Award Winners of 2019, but the place was fairly empty at 6:30, and didn’t ever fill completely, although there was eventually a big party seated at one of the long tables. Gorgeous space, nice and toasty on a chilly night.

My GF is from the Gujarati region where Chef Heena Patel hails, so I was eager to see how the food would measure up to her: We loved it.

The cocktails were intriguing, and I tried the Luv Kush - gin, almond milk, falnerum, lime, cardamom, vanilla, egg white. Perfectly balanced, creamy, loved the sprinkle of cardamom.

We opted for the Let Me Cook for You menu, at $50 per person, which included 9 courses plus dessert. It was a lot of food but I’m glad we did it as we got to try so many dishes.

First came spiced, fried chickpeas. Very crunchy and slightly spicy. We both marveled at how crispy they were, yet they were very light.

Then, Dahi Wada - urad dal fritters, with spiced chilled yogurt, cilantro, tamarind. These were crispy on the outside and tender inside. Fresh sweet/sour, and very good.

Next, Drunken pani puri - semolina puffs, crushed peas, raw onion, lemon tamarind water, mint, gin. I loved these - so light and crispy! and especially the water - it had a slight funk to it which I attributed to the gin. I kept taking sips of it after we’d finished the puri. Picture shows one of the puri filled with the water.

Then came a kind of rice porridge,with brussels sprouts and chili oil. much like jook. It was not on the menu, but my GF said it’s a comfort food served typically only at home. This was actually a bit bland to me, but she loved it, as it reminded her of her childhood.

Garlic, onion & mustard seed rice and Kabuli Channa came next. The rice needed some oomph. I’ve had this rice actually made by my friend’s mother, and it needed more garlic, and a big drizzle of ghee to liven it up. It was fine, just not special. My GF loved the channa, said it was her favorite part of the meal. I liked it too, but found it fairly typical of the dish.

Saag Paneer, with fresh paneer shipped in from Oregon. With mustard seeds. The paneer was springy and you could taste the milkiness. Loved this dish. It was much spicier than any other saag paneer I’ve had. Most of the food was spicier than at other Indian restaurants i’ve been to lately. My GF actually couldn’t take the heat, and asked for more raita (which was delicious, by the way.)

Fiinally, a mushroom curry. My friend said this wasn’t a dish she’d ever heard of, and it wasn’t on the menu. After the saag paneer, this was my favorite - so much umami.

No pic: Dessert was gulab jamun - Indian donuts (or pancakes), basically, soaked in rosewater syrup. Too sweet for me, i just had a bite.

I got a pic of (I believe) Chef Patel (not in the kitchen, and her husband, working the pass window.

I’d definitely go back. There are a couple of non-veg options (lamb, chicken) which I didn’t try as my friend is a vegetarian. Next time!


Thanks for the report. I have wanted to go to Besharam for a while now. For a while when it first opened I recall its a little bit harder to find a spot. Perhaps the opening crowd has thinned a little.

Did the a la carte menu interest your Gujarati friend?

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It did! But the meal we had incorporated many of the dishes we wanted to try. She was pleased, as was I.

Feeling a little guilty as I posted a meh 3* review on Google Maps (see below) and had not read your review before we went. I still hold by what I said, but wish we had tried a few more dishes, particularly smaller plates. One of our party wanted the arugula salad which was good (and $13 !!!) but did not say Gujarat to me, but SF. The other small plate was just plain bad, the Bhuni, as were the Spicy Peanuts, which were not spicy at all and boring. The Pani Puri was fine, but that’s great and cheaper at Vik’s Chaat.

Wish we had tried the Kanji Wada, Dhaka and Dhokli, and Dahi Wada. So will give it another shot.

My post on Google Maps:

“Pricey, westernized, tamed, not very impressive. Expensive lamb chops and chicken were very good. But I didn’t feel a true as-if in India feeling that I expected after the PR when the chef broke free from Daniel Patterson and announced she was doing her own thing finally. So quite disappointed. Paratha weak. And the 3 tiny ramekins of bland chutneys poor and ridiculous at $7 + +. Service ok, but…”


Oh, I forgot all about this place. There was a different restaurant in this space, which I was hoping to go to ( already forgot what it was ), and when I showed up, Besharam was there, it must have been sometime in the opening weeks.

I was unimpressed enough to leave off much of a review. The atmosphere is what I think of as San Francisco Standard ( which is nice and all ), the food was pretty good but not great if you’re used to other chaat places or regional indian.

I happen to stop by at HO today because there’s a glut on higher end indian places in Palo Alto, but I’ll leave that for a longer post.

Did you go before Patel took over the restaurant from the Patterson group?

I remember wanting to go to the Patterson group restaurant, but when I showed up, it was just after the change, and was Besharam.

I asked the fellow at the bar, who seemed more manager/owner than barstaff about the connection, and he said “we have a connection” to them, or something similarly evasive.

This was quite a while ago… last july? or the year before? I’m sometimes down in that 'hood after working at the shop, or picking up my partner for the shop, and we’re looking for late-night eats. Moshi Moshi has become a favorite, although it’s not that late night we’ve closed the place out and they’re polite about it, and Cockscomb, which is serving and hopping till well after midnight ( love those Gin Jams, and the small meaty places are still excellent like the hot mess ).

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Let’s try to clarify things, because you saying “just after the change” is confusing me a little bit.

Were you trying to go to Alta, and found it had changed to Besharam (but still in partnership with Daniel Patterson), or

Were you trying to go to Besharam (while it was still partnered with Daniel Patterson) and found it had changed to Heena Patel’s full control?

Just trying to figure out which era of Besharam you had your meal

I was trying to go to Alta and I found Besharam there, “still in partnership” with Patterson.

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