342 Howard St.
asterners transplanted to the West Coast suffer from a particular form of recurring nostalgia. I know from personal experience that it can hit at any time, but it's especially strong on those days when the persistent Los Angeles sun or ubiquitous San Francisco fog turn into something approaching real, changeable weather - when gusty winds or balmy breezes dishevel the $100 haircuts on Rodeo Drive, or billowy, white thunder clouds pile up like shaving mousse over the Golden Gate Bridge. It always makes me want to head to an East Coast restaurant where they've never heard of microgreens and the waiters aren't web developers moonlighting between jobs.
Mitchell and Steven Rosenthal, who originally hail from Edison, New Jersey, are with me on this. Their new place in San Francisco, Town Hall, is a tribute to "small-town gathering places back East," says Steven, "with their convivial atmosphere." Even the look - exposed brick walls and simple wooden tables and chairs - exudes a down-home East Coast ambience, courtesy of New York-based designer Mark Zeff, who fell in love with the building and tackled the job as a restoration rather than a rebuild.
Mitchell Rosenthal was a student at Manhattan's School of Visual Arts when he discovered cooking, thanks to a Paul Prudhomme cookbook, later becoming an intern at his hero's K. Paul's Louisiana Kitchen in New Orleans. His brother Steven graduated from the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park and signed on at the Pierre Hotel, where he eventually worked every station in the hotel's kitchen.