Everyone always gets jealous when they find out I work from home. True, there is a lot of freedom, I can wear pajamas all day or watch TV while I work, and I test recipes when I get bored of sitting in front of the computer. But there is little social interaction and sometimes it's hard to get motivated. I do miss teaching and having the kids in my class always surprising me with something funny or unexpected.
Luckily, I can pretend that I'm part of the bustling downtown San Francisco workforce since it's a short walk away. I go to the Thursday Crocker Galleria farmer's market and act like I too am using my lunch hour to pick up what's in season. The one thing I refuse to do, though, is to wear white sneakers with my "office" outfit when walking around the city!
Besides the market, I am still trying to figure out the downtown takeout lunch scene, which is surprisingly bleak. There are tons of delis and random takeout places, but it's very hard to figure out where to go and what is good. I'd read about The Sentinel, and as it's quite close to Crocker Galleria, I decided to try it out.
It's a little difficult to find since it's a tiny storefront on a corner with no real signage. But the smell of fresh-baked bread was the clear indicator that I was in the right place. Well, that and the line snaking around the corner. Lots of people making sandwiches in a miniscule kitchen with barely room to breathe.
Opened by Chef Dennis Leary of Canteen, this is his breakfast / lunch spot. Fresh pastries in the morning, a short list of sandwiches and a soup, as well as some specials. It has quite an old-fashioned feel to it, and I loved the fact that the sandwiches choices are deliberately done for you, you don't pick your meat, cheese, and toppings from a long list - you let the chef create a combo he thinks is interesting.
I opted for the corned beef sandwich, which was on crunchy flatbread (more like focaccia) topped with Gruyère cheese, homemade Russian dressing, and caramelized onions. There also seemed to be some kind of sauerkraut- like cabbage on top which added some acidity. In the takeout box was a big pickle spear (not too sour, would've liked it more tart), and an Andes mint.
Don't expect thin New York-style corned beef, these were thicker slices with some chew to it. Overall, I liked the sandwich but ended up adding some whole-grained mustard for a little more contrast to the all the richness, as the Gruyère was quite strong. It was a big portion, and while it was $8.50, not too bad for a downtown lunch that could've been enough for two meals. The only hard part is finding a place to sit around there if you don't work nearby. You could head over to Crocker Galleria and use their tables and chairs, but otherwise, pray for a nice day so that you can sit outside!
37 New Montgomery Street