• Senses. Senses was the name of the God forsaken restaurant with a color scheme that made your eyes bleed. In fact the vertigo inducing lime sea foam green, purple, and orange decor with fake plants and a penchant for the island of Dr. Moreau was the best thing it had going for it. The food was abysmal and the yelp reviews bordered on negative stars. So when I heard the place was being taken over and remade into a new restaurant I was skeptical to say the least.

    Fast forward two months, fourteen days, twelve hours, and thirty-five seconds. The place formerly known as “blah” was redone and like a phoenix from the ashes it blew me away. Top to bottom is now everything wine. Starting with the burgundy colored floor and the grape stenciled decals to the wine barrels adorning the front. This reincarnation of a wine tasting room is just that. They call themselves a winemaker’s speakeasy because most of the wines they carry by law can’t be tasted at the winery (due to a lack of proper licensing.)

    “They won’t taste like they come out of a bag. I promise. If I make my own ketchup am I not gonna make my own onion rings? I mean duh.”

    This intriguing concept of a winery restaurant is called B³ (B3, Bcubed, B-Cubed or B Cubed. I’ve seen it posted many ways on the internet. At least its not as hard to type as the artist formerly known as Prince was.) The brass tacks of it all are as follows–all the wines they sell are local, small lot, artisanal wines. They give you the option of getting a 1.5oz pour of any wine they carry, so you can taste it before you buy it. The bottles range in price from $19 to $79. The exciting part about the wines they carry is that some of them can’t be found anywhere else and having tasted a large portion of their list they do not disappoint.

    I’ll get back to wine in a couple of paragraphs, but for now let me segue to food. Wine and food have been partners in crime since the dawn of time or at the very least since before the flood. Having tasted the wines at B³ right along side their food I’m happy to say that they pair nicely. Let’s start with the burger. The accoutrement include fresh tomato, leafy lettuce, dijon, housemade ketchup and lemon aioli, and thinly sliced cucumber “pickled fresh” as the executive chef Kevin Ahanjanian of Bouchon fame likes to call it. The cucumber gives a zingy freshness to the burger I haven’t experienced before. In combination with the tart soft lemon aioli the meatiness of the beef gains a nice balance just like the Forlorn Hope Les Deux Matieux 2005 Petite Sirah which is bold in fruit yet balanced with tannin and acidity.

    The french fries are unbelievable made with hand cut kennebec potatoes (higher in starch than your russet potato giving it a more satisfying crunch) and fried in rice bran non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) oil. I had them with the ketchup and the aioli as dipping sauces. With a sprinkle of truffle salt they gain that subtle earthiness that I love and throw in a crispy shell with a soft center that isn’t pithy and you get a gorgeous fry. The Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer battered onion rings are fluffy and doughy in the center with a light crispy outside. The best I’ve had in the city (LA is a different story.)

    As far as entrees go the B³LT or Brown sugar Bourbon Bacon (catch the 3 B’s?), lettuce and tomato sandwich is reminiscent of your homemade white bread BLT except like a bazillion times better (to use the parlance of our times.) The B³LT isn’t on the menu, but you can just ask for it anytime (it’s our little secret. Just tell ‘em Jonathan sent you.) The hen of the woods vegan sandwich has a rich almost meaty taste for all you ex-meat eaters who kind of miss that robustness. All vegan items are prepared on surfaces and with items which don’t violate vegan practices. So aside from the fact that your friend sitting next to you is eating a juicy burger, they’ve got you covered.

    The one can’t miss even if you get a plate for the center of the table is the fried chicken. It tastes deceptively similar to Ad Hoc’s twice a month fried chicken, but I’m okay with that cause I don’t drive out to Yountville often. Not to mention the fact that I prefer mashed potatoes and haricot vert to collard greens and black eyed peas, but I digress. The aforementioned mashers are amazing with a perfect gravy. God it was good, only one problem. They decided to make it a Friday night special, so you’ll have to go early and catch one of these elusive chickens.

    One of the nights I was at B³ executive chef Kevin sat down with us and while the other partners in the restaurant (Johnny Gato, Ron Elder and Rob Taylor) couldn’t focus on questions for more than a minute (understandable given the hectic opening) Kevin was focused, down to earth and very passionate about his cooking. Practically everything is made from scratch–the lemon aioli, smoky paprika ketchup, and zingy barbecue sauce to the “fresh” pickles and onion rings.

    I overheard Kevin talking to a guest who had asked him if the onion rings were going to be handmade (this was before they made it to the menu.) His response was, “They won’t taste like they come out of a bag. I promise. If I make my own ketchup am I not gonna make my own onion rings? I mean duh.”

    Kevin uses local sustainably made products in everything, such as Harris Ranch beef, Liberty Farms duck, Caggiano sausages, Hungry Hollow cherry tomatoes (sooo good, they taste like tomato flavored grapes) to name a few. When talking about why he chooses to stick with these higher end products he replied, “I’m not a health nut by any stretch of the imagination, I just pick the organic, non-GMO products because they taste better, plain and simple.”

    I’ve yet to try the Cobb salad, but Kevin is as fanatical about the perfect Cobb salad as I am about guacamole. I did enjoy their first brunch however, and the spicy dungeness crab cake benedict was incredible. The bourbon and vanilla french toast did not disappoint, but the BBBacon and cheddar biscuits covered with Caggiano sausage gravy and a side of farm fresh Petaluma eggs made me wish I had an extra stomach. Regretably no one ordered the bananas foster pancakes, but I’m certain I will be back to try them.

    I will get back to the wine here in a bit… stay posted.

    All in all over the time spent at B³ I noticed a real dialing down of food and service. They’ve listened to guest’s input and made adjustments that scream dynamite. I’m truly impressed with the restaurant. Its an inexpensive beauty in a highly competitive area of San Francisco.

    -Jonathan Hood