For the utmost fried chicken sandwich, try Rove Kitchen

I’m mystified that Rove Kitchen, a new American spot in the Tenderloin open for several months now, has barely been mentioned in the food blogosphere. The food — the fried chicken sandwich especially — is so good, I wouldn’t be surprised if there always was a wait for a table at Rove. But there isn’t.

It makes sense when a server tells me that chef-owner Ryan Yema prefers a quiet PR approach, eschewing press releases and Twitter blasts and preferring word of mouth. There isn’t a phone number on the website, nor a menu, nor an email address.

Rove’s hours are exceedingly limited. It’s closed for Sunday dinner, and it’s closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, too. The sign on the window says “sometimes” it’s open on Wednesdays.

Rove plays a little coy, but that doesn’t stop me from liking it.

The place has a sparkle, with steel gray barstools and white marble counters that harmonize with the foggy glow of the sky outside.

If there ever was a welcoming sight, it’s the two trays of house-made buns – Norman Rockwellian, golden-caramel poofs of bread – sitting on the counter right by the door. One tray has bread sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds, the other has bread that’s shiny, but with a crackled texture on the surface.

Hanging over a small bar is a menu written on a chalkboard. It changes daily, except for three things: a burger, a grilled cheese, and the aforementioned fried chicken sandwich.

I’ve never come across a better fried chicken sandwich. It’s light, non-greasy, and if I dare say, sublime. The bun is soft, pillowy, mildly sweet and lightly fried with butter. It’s easy to bite through, which makes the chicken’s deeply caramelized crunch stand out all the more.

The meat is sweet and juicy, seasoned with herbes de Provence; lavender gives it a floral perfume, thyme a resonant, green pungency. The accompanying, mildly tangy slaw (of red onion and purple cabbage and a few crisp, thinly sliced cucumber pickles) does a tango with the chicken, melding subtly with the other flavors.

I also like Rove’s burger. It isn’t trying to be anything fancy or frou-frou, yet it’s dignified and traditional. Again, the bun is buttered and fried. The patty is made with beef short rib ground in-house. It’s substantial, with good body – not soggy, loose or overly fatty. More savory notes come from aged cheddar and caramelized onion jam. There’s a fresh leaf of butter lettuce. All in all, it’s simple and good.

While the sandwiches are pleasing for the way the ingredients mingle together in subtle ways, the approach doesn’t work as well for the salads. There was no punch to the salad of sautéed Frog Hollow peaches, goat cheese and greens I tried, and it didn’t have enough brightness to wake up my meal. The duck confit salad, while delicious and comforting, lacked high notes.

Such a critique hardly mars the pleasure of a screamingly good fried chicken sandwich, in a place as intimate and as cozy as Rove. The wine list is good, too.

Rove Kitchen
Location: 678 Post St., S.F.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 to 10 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sundays; “sometimes” Wednesdays
Recommended dishes: Fried chicken sandwich ($11), Rove burger ($14), fries with Meyer lemon aioli ($5)
Price range: $5 to $14
Reservations: Not accepted
Credit cards: All major

Cynthia Salaysay
Published by
Cynthia Salaysay

Recent Posts

San Francisco Giants swept as end of season nears

Halfway through the season, it seemed as if the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals were on similar paths,…

3 hours ago

San Francisco 49ers’ loss to Chiefs was a costly one, as Jimmy Garoppolo could be done for the season with an ACL tear

By C.J. Peterson Special to S.F. Examiner For the San Francisco 49ers, taking a 38-27 loss to the AFC West-leading…

3 hours ago

Oakland Athletics will have to clinch on the road, Matt Olson homers in loss to Twins

OAKLAND -- While a crowd of just under 37,000 on Saturday night gave the Oakland Athletics some much-needed energy during…

6 hours ago

SF artist who punched older neighbor to the death claims self-defense

Sylvester Guard had lost his keys. So the 38-year-old artist known for painting trash cans in the Tenderloin rang the…

7 hours ago

Oakland Athletics not scoreboard watching with chance to clinch at home

OAKLAND -- There was not a single television in the Oakland Athletics tuned to the Tampa Bay-Toronto game on Sunday…

9 hours ago

BART equipment failure fills Civic Center Station with smoke

Smoke from an equipment failure on a BART track prompted transit officials to temporarily close Civic Center Station on Saturday…

12 hours ago