When it opened two decades ago, Tony Gulisano’s Castro eatery Chow was declared “the ultimate neighborhood restaurant” by then-Examiner critic Patricia Unterman.
A lot has changed in San Francisco over the past 20 years, but Chow (215 Church St.) remains a constant where diners can fill up on global comfort food with a Northern California sensibility.
With a high-end restaurant pedigree, Gulisano was celebrated for incorporating organic ingredients into his cooking well before the sustainable-food movements took hold on a mainstream level. Moreover, Gulisano’s cooking was relatable and affordable. It made enough of an impact that it was named one of The Chronicle’s 30 most influential restaurants of the previous 30 years.
After years of expansion, Gulisano’s empire cut back its Bay Area locations in recent years from five locations to just two — one in Lafayette (53 Lafayette Circle) and the Church Street original. However, if one thing has stayed the same it’s this warm ginger cake — a longtime regular favorite — which has been on the menu since the restaurant opened in 1997.
Although on the menu year-round, with its bold spike of gingery flavor it’s the kind of dessert that lets you know the holidays have arrived.
Sarah Fritsche is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter/Instagram: @foodcentric
Unsalted butter and flour to prepare pan
- 2 ounces ginger, peeled and finely grated on a Microplane (about 3 tablespoons)
- 1 cup sugar
- ¾ cup rice bran oil or other neutral flavored oil
- ¾ cup dark molasses
- 4 large eggs
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- ½ cup sugar
- 1½ teaspoons light corn syrup
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream at room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into pieces
- 1 cup very cold heavy whipping cream
- ¼ teaspoon Tahitian vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, plus more to garnish
For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-by-9-inch cake pan and dust very lightly with flour or line with parchment paper. (If you plan to turn the cake out of the pan before cutting, also line it with parchment paper, which helps the cake release more easily.)