Early Bird Special: Wexler's

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Jen Siska
More downtown than down-home?
An early taste of SF Weekly's Wednesday food review.

Forget the kind of barbecue you find yourself licking off your forearm an hour after lunch, the kind you feel no remorse in toothpicking from your molars on a crowded bus in plain view. Wexler's (568 Sacramento at Montgomery) fuses barbecue tradition with New American ambition, resulting in some very refined smoke-touched dishes that -- the best ones, anyway -- deliver much of the satisfaction of pit meats without the wallow. Are the results brilliant or bogus? SF Weekly food critic Meredith Brody weighs in on the very un-joint-like Wexler's at SFWeekly.com. Before you go, catch a whiff in an extended excerpt, after the jump.

It had to happen here eventually: an attractive, chic, fashionable restaurant devoted to the art of barbecue. But not just any barbecue. In the spirit of New American cuisine, it's a reimagining of barbecue. It uses not just the inevitable local and sustainable ingredients ("when available," the menu hedges), but also upscale ingredients such as crème fraîche instead of sour cream, pickled shallots and cipollini instead of Vidalias, and pain de mie and ciabatta rolls instead of Wonder Bread. It's also in a somewhat surprising neighborhood, the Financial District, perhaps less so at lunch when you find yourself surrounded by backslapping suits who've already turned the place into something of a midday clubhouse. Matt Wexler, late of Levende, has opened Wexler's, where his chef, Charlie Kleinman (ex-Fifth Floor and Fish & Farm), is turning out amazingly delicious food inspired by Southern barbecue.

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