December 04

On the cover
Hidive Restaurant, It’s Only a Step Away
MTC Trip Planner Unfriendly to Alameda’s Ferries
MTC Honors Excellence in Motion at 26th Awards Ceremony
Community Calendar
No Flu Shot? Could be No Worries, Mate!
Cool Places to Shop on the Eastern Waterfront
Places to Shop for the Holidays
Bay Crossings Cuisine: Neptune’s
Let Your Light Shine on Angel Island
Vallejo Ferry Chief Fired, Resigned or What?
Help Save the Palace
Holidays at the Exploratorium
U.S. Coast Guard Honors BoatU.S. Emergency Beacon Rental Program
WTA Pages: Making Cents for Ferries
Libations: Christmas,
South American Style







Hidive Restaurant, It’s Only a Step Away
Bart Taylor, co-owner of the HiDive, newest “in” spot on
San Francisco’s burgeoning downtown waterfront scene.

By Paul Redman

Locals often talk about new business development in the South of Market area in the abstract, as if it were actually in a completely different city than San Francisco. So insulated are we in our isolated trips to a baseball game at SBC Park—or the ever-less-frequent night out at a techno-music club—from the goings-on in the massive gridiron of warehouses and new apartment complexes shooting up in SOMA.

Whether your own calculus counts the lower Embarcadero as part of SOMA should become irrelevant. Because if you head south from Market Street, beneath the shadow and slight chill of the Bay Bridge, your brain would have to be sleeping with the fishes not to notice that something’s afoot.

Draw your eyes to that sunny, open stretch of the Embarcadero along the water. In a small shack that sports a fresh coat of paint at Pier 28 1/2, there is tangible evidence for all to see that indeed this part of town is developing a life of its own.

Hidive restaurant is an example of an attempt to stretch not just downtown San Francisco, but to expand the quality and diversity of the typical neighborhood bar and restaurant. As you pass through the entrance, you are greeted by a slick wooden countertop and a large plasma television built into the wall. It’s as if instead of a host stand, there were some talking head ready to serve you. But you will quickly find out that Hidive’s service is much friendlier than that. Although the dining room seats 63, it feels quaintly like 15. There is a stout bar along the front of the building, and all of the tables are against the back wall of wide windows looking onto the Bay.

Inside the HiDive, located directly beneath the Bay Bridge, next to Red’s Java Hut.

Executive chef Bart Taylor, formerly of the Cliff House restaurant, hits some high notes not normally found in either a bar and grill or fine dining restaurant. Indeed, at Hidive one might expect there to be an identity issue, given the informal service and the classy, diminutive dining room with upholstered seats and modern wall sconces.

On a recent lunch at Hidive, I did not know if the logo “Organic” that was stretched tightly across the chest of our waitresses t-shirt referred to the ingredients or something else, but the appetizers, salads, and fish tacos we tried were nonetheless fresh and delicious. The bourbon prawns ($5.50), plump and hot, were bathed in a sticky, sugary glaze that thankfully dripped onto the accompanying bed of spinach leaves. Another preparation that excited was the Napa cabbage-based slaw—lightly crunchy, seasoned with tarragon—served alongside the bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado sandwich ($7.50). The sandwich itself was tasty and rich, not breaking down any culinary walls but treating the classic ingredients with the care and attention they deserve. And when it came to the fish tacos ($7.95), Hidive delivered the goods in a number of ways. This preparation usually involves one of two cooking techniques. Hidive chose its own course that did not involve deep-frying the fish pieces, instead sautéing them to a light and healthy, batter-free brown. There was homemade, black bean chili with the tacos, which was indeed vegetarian, although it tasted of some obscure, smoky and meaty ingredient. There were also two homemade, Mexican-style sauces, one green, one red, both flavorful and sweet more than spicy.

When it comes to dessert, Mr. Taylor and his kitchen brigade have carved out their own little niche, which is fitting for the growing following of “Hidivers” that seem to come out of the woodwork for this little restaurant. The homemade cheesecake ($3.50) is as our waitress informed us, a true New York-style cheesecake. It was tall and thick as it should be, and like the mixed identity of Hidive itself, seemed to be both moist and firm, dense but not overcooked. The cheesecake was further lightened by a mango coulis sauce judiciously dripped around the edge of the plate. And for the grand finale, the dessert that may be Hidive’s signature, help yourself to the Ginger Ecstasy ($1.75). This ginger cake is an exercise in cake density. It has the texture of cookie dough that has been chilled but not frozen, a sweetness quotient high enough to choke an adult goat, and an appeal that transcends the sum of its parts. Ginger Ecstasy is like a piece of hard candy that has been slightly softened to serve to one who dislikes hard candy, and is lightened by the dollop of fresh whipped cream that is its only companion on the plate.

By next spring, when the “KFOG KaBoom!” concert comes back to Pier 30, you will have to fight me for a table at Hidive. With a clear view of the fireworks that accompany the annual concert, Hidive is a little spot with the biggest of aspirations, a path to the future and growth of our beloved city by the Bay.
Hidive restaurant is located at Pier 28 1/2 in San Francisco, (415) 977-0170. Paul Redman can be reached by e-mail at