Maker's Common Launches Fall Menu
Founded this summer by the folks from Mission Cheese, it's part-market, part-restaurant, largely local, and all sustainable.
All images by Kristan Lawson
The owners of Maker's Common -- a roomy indoor-outdoor part-market, part-restaurant which the founders of San Francisco's wildly popular Mission Cheese launched this July in downtown Berkeley -- invited us over to check out their new fall menu.
Like the whole business itself, the menu is a clever confluence of the seasonal and the artisanal.
A cheese-and-charcuterie selection included calabrese, fennel-chili coppa, and duck rillettes -- all of them house-cured -- along with house-made pickles, dried fruits, and three cheeses including Rogue Creamery's Rogue River Blue, which comes wrapped in pear-brandy-soaked grape leaves.
"It's super-seasonal and it's boozy," commented co-owner Sarah Dvorak.
Another dish placed dreamily creamy DiStefano burrata alongside hazelnuts, pomegranate seeds, sage, and vivid autumn greens. A heartwarming savory gratin bound together leeks, chard, potato, and grilled chicory with scrumptious Ashbrook cheese.
Crispy golden whey-brined chicken (depicted above) comes with corn on the cob and sautéed mustard greens. Served family-style and in sandwiches, this chicken is the restaurant's biggest seller -- "which surprises me to no end," said co-owner Eric Miller. (A third co-owner is Oliver Dameron.)
"We started it on a whim and people loved it," Miller said.
Autumn desserts include goat's-milk panna cotta and hearty pots de creme made with malted cream, cocoa nibs, and salt flakes. A lengthy beverage menu features wine (including local varieties such as Gadabout from Berkeley's own Donkey & Goat) as well as beer (again including local varieties such as Bloomsday IPA from Berkeley's own Fieldwork), "bubbles," coffee, tea, and more.
Featuring a farm-to-table-ish mural, richly earth-hued concrete floors, and super-high ceilings overlooking regular and community-style reclaimed-wood seating from which you can watch meat curing and pickles fermenting in vast clear-fronted cases, Maker's Common sells only American- (and largely locally) handcrafted products and is the Bay Area's first crowd-funded public eatery, having raised over half a million dollars from 165 investors via a direct public offering.
The minimum investment was $1,000, Dvorak explained, "and we found out who our fans were." Now they're considered co-founders.
Designed by Berkeley-based Studio KDA (which brought you other local favorites Comal, Nopalito, and Itani Ramen, as reported at SF.Eater), lit by ceramic lights from Richmond-based Jered's Pottery, the University Avenue space now housing Maker's Common formerly housed not one but three adjacent businesses: OctoberFeast Bakery, the Bittersweet Cafe, and Saxology. A parklet will be completed out front within the next few weeks -- "about which we're pretty stoked," Miller said.
And in the restrooms? In keeping with the spirit: amusing line-drawings of cheese.