The Enchantment Of Encontro
Ok, so let's just get right to it, Encontro North Park is pretty much LIFE! The restaurant is stylish and very detailed in its design. From the fold open full size window, to the purposefully placed plant boxes, and even underneath the bar are engraved ENP logos. After taking in the ambiance it was time to focus on the menu. By the time I reached the fourth item down I began to suffer from a severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out). Each dish had such a bold and unique personality, and yet somehow the menu still managed to be cohesive. First dish I was able to taste was the asparagus. Yes, a pretty basic dish, until you experience it Chef Jason style! Grilled to perfection, basil aioli, a sunny side up egg, and sprinkled with parmigiano reggiano. Next, Mary's Fried Chicken Sliders that were savory down to the last bite. But the real MVP was the Portobello Fries, OMG! As someone who has loved french fries since before being able to speak, I'd happily replace the potatoes with these flavorful mushrooms. However, if mushrooms aren't your thing don't fret, they have Patatas Bravas that are insanely delish. Aaaaannd if you're a working on your summer body, because apparently it's built in the winter, you'll be obsessed over their salads. The Spinach & Bacon or Baby Kale are both refreshing and tasty! After indulging at what is now my favorite spot in North Park, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Chef Jason Hotchkiss for a quick chat;
1. When curating a new menu, or updating an existing one where do you draw inspiration from?
I get inspired by seasonal produce. Hence, the reason Encontro’s menu is always changing. Our menu items change with the seasons. I also draw inspiration from what I personally like to eat or new foods I’ve never tried that intrigue me. I also pay very close attention to feedback from my guests. I try to use their feedback and suggestions as I make changes to the menu.
2. Having over 30 years in the culinary industry what's the worst food trend you’ve seen?
Molecular Gastronomy - Basically, making something look like a strawberry, but taste like a banana. I appreciate food that doesn’t make you play guessing games. Biting into a banana that tastes like a carrot? No thanks!
3. If you were hosting a dinner party for 4 people (dead or alive) who would they be and what would you prepare?
I love cooking for everyone… but if I had to pick-
1. Thomas Keller - My favorite chef
2. Albert Tordjman - SF Chef
3. My Mother- Susan Wonderly
4. Harrison Ford
I would create a variety of small plates so that everyone could interact.
Bread… because you have to have bread.
I picture everyone outside in the summertime, enjoying fresh seafood. There would be some spicy options, a few sweet and savory dishes. I’d create a little bit of everything so that there would be something for everyone. And everyone would still be able to try something new.
4. Are there any food trends you’re excited about?
Bringing back simple. comfort food. As the world gets crazy, everyone could use more simplicity and a little more comfort.
5. If you could open a restaurant anywhere in the world where would it be and what type of food would you serve
Easy… San Francisco - Tapas.
6. What’s your favorite dish at Encontro and what drink would you pair with it?
Our Thai Sausage. It pairs well with any Saison.
7. Top songs on your music playlist?
“Fly me to the moon” - Frank Sinatra and “Emperors Paradise” - Bob Marley
Photgrapher: Ross Jordan