Brian Malarkey’s latest Little Italy restaurant Herb & Wood is attracting a lot of crowds and got a good review from the esteemed Barbarella Fokos, who called it a great special occasion dining spot when she ate there in April.
For people who want a place for less special but no-less-delicious occasions, I recommend Herb & Eatery, the cafe and market in front of the restaurant. It’s a bit cheaper and a lot more accessible. There’s no waiter. You order at the counter, and they bring it to you when it’s ready.
Not in the mood to wait at all? There are lots of pre-made sandwiches, or you can grab some cheeses, charcuteries, fruits, veggies, and drinks from the cooler.
It’s casual, but there are some items I’m dying to eat again, starting with the Sugar Cane Thai Chicken Skewers ($10). Yes, they are sweet because of the sugar cane stuck through the pieces of poultry, but the basil and mint spice things up nicely.
I’m not a tuna melt person usually, but I can’t recommend the Olive Oil Poached-Tuna Albacore Melt ($14) enough. The key is the preserved lemon which blends with the slightly briny flavor of the tuna and capers for a nice tang. The cheddar adds a light pucker, while the parmesan-olive bread is soft with just a slight crispness.
The Fried Chicken Lite ($16) held its own, thanks to a creamy lemon-buttermilk sauce and a pickled red onion, cucumber, and tomato salad. Good for a picnic at Waterfront Park.
Vegetarians should be happy with the Beet & Humboldt Fog Salad ($12). Obviously, the goat cheese and beets are the stars, while the quinoa, pickled red onion, and kale were great supporting characters, made sublime by the walnut pesto.
The Chimichurri Steak and Carrot Salad ($14) is another dish perfect for a picnic. The steak was tender, and the chimichurri had a nice lemon-parsley tang. The charred greens and farro added a touch of smokiness.
2210 Kettner Boulevard, Little Italy
Herb & Eatery is cheaper than Herb & Wood, but some people might blanch at the prices anyway. For me, the Tuna Melt and the Beet Salad were good enough to warrant a return visit. This where I want to get lunch during Comic-Con.