Saturday, April 6, 2013

Hitting the Spot: Pacifica restaurant The Surf Spot offers up diverse fare

April 05, 2013, 05:00 AM By Brendan Bartholomew Daily Journal  

Pacifica is not known for its fine dining options, but Surf Spot owner and Executive Chef Derek Burns intends to change that perception. Since its June 2012 opening, The Surf Spot has offered a constantly changing menu that reflects Burns’ unique vision and food industry experience.

The restaurant’s location, next to the Sea Bowl bowling alley, and highly visible from Highway 1, certainly helps Burns’ cause. Motorists driving by at night may notice a circle of tiki torches burning around the outdoor patio during a luau or live music event and, on weekends, the parking lot is likely to be filled with customized show cars from local car clubs, such as the Bay Area Modern Mopars, who use The Surf Spot as a gathering place.

Local food blogger Theodore Ordon-Yaussi lived in Pacifica for many years, and has always sung the town’s praises, but acknowledges that its dining options have been sparse.

“It’s pretty meager after 9 p.m. And before that, it’s limited too. The Italian restaurants are pretty meh ... I noticed there was a cheesesteak shop, and then it closed. Nick’s is like the place for old school dining, and it’s pretty good, but for younger foodies on a budget? They normally don’t like traditional white tablecloth, prime rib and lobster,” Ordon-Yaussi said.

Budget conscious foodies won’t find tablecloths at The Surf Spot, and Burns says one of his chief goals was to make his restaurant “affordable and accessible to the community.”

Affordability, of course, is a relative thing. Entrees from the regular menu range in price from $9 for a pulled pork sandwich to $27 for a grilled, marinated hanger steak. In addition to the regular menu, the restaurant also offers a “market menu” that changes daily.

“This is the part of our menu that’s more foodie-driven,” Burns said. “Maybe one day it’s French influenced, and the next day Moroccan, South American or pan-Asian. In that way, we provide both ‘safe’ foods like burgers, pizzas and clam chowder, or more adventurous and exotic fare . ... If dad wants steak, the kids want pizza and mom wants a nice piece of fish or some small plates (such as ahi poke, crusted calamari or sweet, chili-glazed chicken wings), the whole family can be satisfied in one restaurant.”

Burns never went to culinary school, instead learning his craft by apprenticing himself to skilled chefs, starting when he was a teen. His long resume includes former and current Bay Area eateries such as Masa’s, Square One, the Campton Place hotel’s restaurant, Vertigo, 231 Ellsworth, Chef Elka Gilmore’s Elka restaurant in Japantown and the restaurant at Manka’s Inverness Lodge. In addition to running The Surf Spot, he works as a private chef for a prominent family who he declines to name.


Submitted by Brendan Bartholomew

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