Photography by Kassie Borreson
Are you drooling, yet? In a time where social media has heightened our visual awareness, a damn good food pic has the ability to make our mouths water. While an image may get you in the door, to make it in the food biz these days, you need 3 things; an inspiring story, an Insta-worthy space, and a stellar menu that also lives up in taste. Meeting that trifecta is The Riddler. It’s the chicest spot in Hayes Valley right now, and maybe all of town. A champagne bar backed by smart and talented women, it houses over 100 selections of bubbly. Pair a glass with a few of its unique bites and you’re sure to satisfy those taste buds. Favorites on the menu include the tator tot waffle, popcorn, and charcuterie plate.
Ladies, this isn’t your average bar. There’s a feminine twist to it. The fancy interior is laced with golf leaf, you'll find a marble bar, and just when you think it may be too swanky, the foliage of vines breaks up all seriousness and sets the tone for a warm and inviting ambiance. It really is the dreamiest of spaces.
If the Instagram-worthy tables don’t impress you, the food and drink will. If I haven't already convinced you this is a spot to try, maybe Chef Zoe Deeg of The Riddler can. I recently got the chance to do a Q&A with her. Read ahead to get the inside scoop!
Everyone is raving about the tater tot waffle on Instagram. It's a fun and fancy dish! What was your inspiration behind it?
The inspiration behind the tater tot waffle comes from wanting to provide a fun and playful atmosphere for our guests coupled with the luxuries of refined foods you'd want to eat with Champagne! Classy, but cool!
For someone who is visiting The Riddler for the first time, what Champagne and food pairing would you recommend?
The salmon, crème fraîche, and caviar tater tot waffle is a must-have! It's bright, fun, and fancy and it pairs well with all of the Champagnes and sparkling wines we have on the list. Anything from an effervescent, high-end bottle to one of our rosés by the glass.
Speaking of pairings, popcorn and rosé wine? It's a thing now or has it always been? It's new to me and I'm intrigued. How do the unexpected flavors compliment each other?
Popcorn is a food for all occasions! The Riddler has 12 salts you can add to your popcorn and all of them pair well with Champagne and sparkling wine. The Scar Jo—named after Scarlett Johansson who happens to own a popcorn shop in Paris—has Parmesan, sage, and truffle so it's herbaceous, salty, and rich. If you're looking for something a little different, the turmeric and coconut is delicious and the Mexican corn is cheesy and spicy.
How is the menu constantly evolving? What can we expect next?
We're always evolving and tweaking the current recipes. What I'm looking forward to is more seasonality in the dishes and we'll also have some new popcorn salts!
I also like to ask chefs what they typically eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Go!
I don't typically eat breakfast, but if I do, it's going to be a thick piece of toast with lots of butter and salt. I always have some English Breakfast or Earl Grey tea.
For lunch? Whatever looks good on Caviar!
Ideally, if I'm out of the kitchen early enough, I go have dinner with my husband somewhere—he's the regional manager for Wise Sons Group. We live in the Mission and we like to enjoy our neighborhood and get cheap Chinese food, or a slice of pizza or some sushi from Basa—anything that's cost effective and lets us spend more time together. The last hot date we had was at Lolinda, which we both love because their spread is amazing.