[San Francisco, Mission] True Laurel

I had some snacks at True Laurel, a recently opened bar in the Mission from the Lazy Bear folks. Walk-in only, no reservations. In addition to cocktails and other drinks they also have a short food menu. Everything on the food menu is small - the sections are “small items,” “items that are also small,” and “small and sweet.” All plates except one (a Dungeness crab fondue at $18) are $15 or less, making many of the food items actually cheaper than the cocktails, which are on the high end price-wise for cocktails in the city at $14 - $16 each.

I had the crispy hen of the woods mushrooms with sour cream ‘n’ alliums dip ($11), which was very good. Very crispy crackly light exterior with a meaty mushroom interior. Very well fried. Nice ranch like dip.

I also had the TL patty melt ($13) - “Griddled Old Beef, Caramelized Onion Special Sauce, Melty Cheese, Pickles.” This was excellent. I don’t know if the “old” beef corresponds to the age of the cow or the aging of the meat but the patty was very juicy and beefy and pink inside, with creamy American cheese and pickle slices in between two slices of toasty buttery white bread. I only wish it were a little bigger - the bread was about the size of a slice of Wonder bread for scale.

And I also had a couple cocktails:

Golden Child ($16)
Mezcal, Clarified Golden Beet, Gentian Wine Reduction, Black Lime Bitters

Smoky, beet-y, and a little citrusy.

Mai O Mai ($15)
Panamanian Rum, Lime, Pistachio Orgeat, Curaçao, Coffee-Rum Float, Milk-Washed

A little bit like a mai tai on the bottom, with a bitterish coffee finish from the coffee-rum float on top.

Food Menu

It’s around the corner from Trick Dog, may be a good alternative for drinks if that place is packed.


I ate there last night, here’s my thoughts. Sorry no pictures :slight_smile:

Food was good, but there is a ton of good food right in that nabe and across SF right now. I haven’t been to Trick Dog or Central Kitchen yet, but those two are in the SAME BLOCK.

What I ate:

  • oysters. Three miyagi’s or similar with a meyer foam on top, which was a great pair. Lots of complexity as the gelee moved to the silkiness of the oysters. I’d almost say “an instant classic”, a dish that everyone could copy ( in a good way ).

  • Bone marrow ramen. The broth really was great. It’s about as good as I’ve had anywhere, texture, soul, the whole picture. The toppings were pretty good the noodles were very good, but the broth was standout. For a non-ramen place, you can easily put them on the map just for ram en.

  • Sweetbreads. First day on the menu. Concept was Ceasar Salad with Sweetbreads as croutons. Pretty good, really nice use of fresh chard. Woudn’t call it a standout - that dish can be so bright and crazy between using cultured milk, more anchovy / garlic, and this didn’t really move that forward. I was expecting something with more crazy punch.

  • Crab Fondue. Very interesting things to dip, interesting mix of things like red endive and texas toast and pickled apple, but the cheese / crab was simply good not great. Dish didn’t mesh for me.

  • Desert - chocolate chip cookies. Love the small size of the cookies, but the small size meant the texture wasn’t quite right. Or, the cocktails were fooling with my taste buds. They were good.

Drinks - very, very good. Each was complex and I’m not going to roll through all of them. The drinks are really the standout.

What I didn’t like:

There was supposed to be an interesting concept of pairing drinks with food. What I kind of expected is they had two different menus, and you choose drinks then they recommend food, or they have under the drinks which food should be paired, or something, but this was really just a card with drinks on one side and food on the other. Word is they’re going to try a tasting menu approach, but it’s just “not quite yet” while they are working on it. I worry - word will get out about the kind of place they are and they’ll have trouble re-positioning as part of their concept. If they’re going to do a concept they need to do a concept! Even now, they could do it with just a menu rewrite.

The place was packed until about 9:30 ( Wednesday, where the word hasn’t quite gotten out yet ), when the place started emptying out. Sliding in at 10pm , or even 11 to 12 as your nightcap, is clearly the sweetspot you’d aim for… but since they just look / smell like a normal restaurant, it looks like they’re packed through 7 to 9. Maybe they should even do reservations 7 to 9… right now they don’t.

They have put out a concept of “pairing food with drinks, drinks first”, and they are not yet using that concept. There’s a lot of “watch that space”.


Thanks for the report! I got in around when they opened and it wasn’t too busy. Was also considering the ramen when looking at the menu, will probably give that a try next time. I believe they are going to have some sort of cocktail tasting menu but haven’t rolled that out yet.

Yes, I think the cocktail tasting menu thing will be interesting. Given how busy the place was at 8:45pm Wednesday
when I arrived, I don’t think they can do something that labor intensive during most of service, and will have to get a little creative.

I stopped by True Laurel about a week ago around 9:30 and agree with the other two posters. It seems like a really promising place for reasonably priced, interesting but not froofy food.
I also got the fried hen of the woods mushrooms and would gladly order anything fried from the menu again. They had a nice light and crisp batter, and the sour cream/creme fraiche based allium dip was lightened by air/whipping, making it a lighter dip that still packed a great flavor punch.
While I wouldn’t order the crab fondue again at $18, I did enjoy it. The crudite were arranged whimsically, in a way that may have hampered the toasts crispiness, but were good vegetables, some seemed to have a light pickle to offset the cheese. As for the fondue, it had a good texture and nice cheddar flavor. If you’re the sort to think cheese completely obliterates any seafood, definitely don’t order it. If you, like me, prefer your linguine alle vongole with parmesan because the seafood flavor enhances the savoriness of the cheese flavor, maybe give it a try. Though, as I said, I wouldn’t get it again, because when I’m at a restaurant I want the whole to be better than the sum of it’s parts, or for the dish to be something I find difficult to make (like the nicely fried mushrooms).
As for the drinks, I’m not a big cocktail fan. My palate in general doesn’t care for sweet things, and most drinks with hard liquor read as sweet to me. The cocktails I had did not change my mind about this.

Sesame-Washed Bourbon, Berto,
Persimmon-Infused Rosso 14
The Humps had a strong sesame smell, and was the primary note of the cocktail. I didn’t notice much of the tannin mouthfeel I was hoping for from the persimmon infusion, but enjoyed the thin slice of one on the top of my ice cube.

Panamanian Rum, Lime, Pistachio Orgeat,
Curaçao, Coffee-Rum Float, Milk-Washed 15
The listed ingredients and appearance of the float on top of a clear cocktail were more interesting to me than the taste. To me it read as a lightly sweet, lightly fruity drink with coffee liqueur.

My descriptions feel overly negative–both were good, and I’d take either over a $12-13 standard (without infusions, fat-washing, or milk-washing) cocktail that seems to be the norm these days. And I’ll likely try the rest hoping that their taste can live up to the complexity of ingredients and techniques that went into them. I’m just trying to understand why I don’t really get the complicated cocktail–to me a lot of the techniques make the cocktail taste lighter, as in less strong flavors, but again, this could be a flaw in my palate.

In any case, I wouldn’t hesitate to go back, at non-busy times, though who knows how long that will last.


Thanks for the report, I also had the Humps for the Boulevard cocktail in a subsequent visit (I asked the bartender for something strong and stirred) and like you found that the sesame was dominant. Didn’t get too much sense of the persimmon either. I liked it though.

Agree that whoever is working the fryer knows their stuff. I believe the fried mushroom dish or some variation of it is also served at Lazy Bear (I haven’t been).

The menu at lazy bear seems to change a lot. The only real constant is the Parker House roll with cultured butter. I have been there 3 or 4 times and don’t remember fried mushrooms, although i do remember some stellar mushroom dishes.

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