Onion Petals with Sherry Vinaigrette
Located on Polk street in Russian Hill, Lord Stanley serves European-inspired fare with a California ethos. This intimate, 40-seat restaurant emphasizes local and in-season produce, creates a rustic yet refined environment, and balances taste, presentation and texture. The light wood details and minimal, white walls add to the ambience.
The a la carte menu at Lord Stanley offers four categories: snacks, appetizers, mains, and desserts. Each dish is clean and vibrant — duck ham with hazelnuts, cured black cod with cauliflower, dill and rye bread; charred leeks with mushroom broth, horseradish and shitake; and grapefruit sorbet with citrus and cappelletti are all featured on the current menu.
I recently interviewed co-chef and owner, Carrie Blease, who described the spirit of Lord Stanley and how the restaurant coalesces with the San Francisco community.
How long has Lord Stanley been open?
We opened on June 11; we just celebrated our 8 month birthday.
Why did you choose to open Lord Stanley in the Bay Area?
San Francisco is a great city for food; there is a wide array of products available, ranging from vegetables to fish and meat. We love that it has the feel of a big city, but is still small and has a sense of community.
Specifically, why did you choose to open the restaurant at the Polk street location?
This was the first space we looked at. The restaurant was extremely different in its old state, and even though we put a great amount of work into it, we saw the potential for something amazing. We love that it is on a corner, and were particularly drawn to the large windows on both sides; natural light is so wonderful and really something we wanted to take advantage of. We also thought that the mezzanine was extremely unique and could offer a great space for semi-private dining experiences and wine dinners. Rupert and I actually got married in a space very similar and it brought back lovely memories.
As a restaurant, what is your favorite thing about San Francisco?
The changing seasons and the variety of products available
How did your experiences working in England inspire the restaurant?
Working in England gave us the opportunity to do quite a bit of traveling throughout Europe. Travel is so crucial to broadening horizons and not only experiencing various cuisines and ingredients, but seeing how people treat those ingredients differently. We learned to have a great respect for food and where ingredients come from.
Where does the name “Lord Stanley” come from?
When Rupert and I lived in London, the pub at the end of our road was called “The Lord Stanley.” This name resonated with us: one, because Rupert’s father’s name was Stanley, and two, because this was a place that we truly associated with comfort. We knew that we could easily walk down, relax, and enjoy delicious, comforting food. We always thought that we wanted the name of our restaurant to be British-inspired. We love that the name evokes the feeling of something familiar; it can sound refined but still have a feeling of comfort and a ‘Lord’ can be seen as someone who is welcoming, almost like a host.
Describe some of your favorite dishes on the menu.
These change quite a bit — we like to change the menu as much as possible for a few reasons. One, it is great for our regular clientele — they can always try something different. Two, it keeps things fun and exciting for us and our staff. It is always great to sell a new dish to a table and see that they are just as happy to eat it as we were to prepare it. At the moment, we just added a new dish to the tasting menu. It is roasted salsify with bread sauce and sorrel. Salsify is a very interesting and under-utilized root vegetable, coming from the dandelion family. It is actually quite sweet and earthy — this pairs well with the tangy sorrel and richly spiced bread sauce (something very English). Our bread program is something we work very hard at, and try and utilize it in as many ways as possible. We use the day old bread for this sauce, as well as the sourdough infused ice cream on the chocolate dessert.
Where do you get your menu inspiration from?
Everywhere. Eating out, memories of travel, favorite dishes from our childhood, and what is in season at the moment.
What are your thoughts on using local and organic ingredients?
It is fantastic; we don’t think one could live in San Francisco and not appreciate the vast array of local farms and producers. Our wine list is also mainly organic and biodynamic — we are one of the few restaurants on the West Coast that focus on these natural wines that have no additives, and come from very small producers. This type of wine is very light and fresh, a perfect pairing for our food.
How does sustainability fit into the restaurant?
We definitely try to be sustainable and ‘green friendly’ at Lord Stanley. We are a small business and we wish to do our part in every way possible, from recycling, conserving energy and water, to utilizing all the products that we buy to their full extent. As mentioned before, every by-product we produce can be used in some form or another: leftover bread, the whey from our house ricotta, the buttermilk from our cultured butter. All of these things have a place somewhere and we try and make an effort to use everything that we can.
How did you choose to work with Boor Bridges Architects, a local San Francisco firm?
We were huge fans of Boor Bridges from the start. We were originally drawn to their style of design, but they also carry a ‘green’ ethos that sets them apart. We worked extremely well with them from the start. Our main goals were to work with what we had and turn the bones of what was Lord Stanley into something amazing. It was the same mentality as we have towards our food — using what we had and working to make it something special.
All photos by Elena Moore ’17
November menu from Lord Stanley
Interior decor of Lord Stanley
Lime, cucumber, and lemon sodas
Grilled squid with cabbage, pine nuts, and curry
Young carrots with ricotta curds, chamomile, bee pollen, and granola
Seared halibut with salt-baked celery root and lemon