Schtick can work two ways. In some cases, it’s used to cover up something bad underneath, like how MC Hammer wears those pants to hide that he only had one hit. But other times, schtick can help show people why something is actually good. Blendtec had to destroy a few iPads before anyone realized their blenders also make good smoothies, and Jared Leto used his Oscar to draw attention to the fact that 30 Seconds To Mars is the greatest band of its generation. Besharam is in that second group. It’s a restaurant in Dogpatch that uses a bit of schtick to get you in the door, but once you get past that, you realize they’re also making some pretty great Indian food.
On looks alone, Besharam fits what we call a “Super Cute Reasonably Priced Restaurant To Catch Up With A Few Friends” (or SCRPRTCUWAFF, for short). This place is small, but lively with a big pop art mural on the back wall and cocktails with names like “Chaat Up And Drive.” While it sounds like you could be sitting in a full-on epitomization of the tongue-out emoji, you’re not. The restaurant is eye-catching, not distracting, and it doesn’t take away from your main reason for going to Besharam, the food.
There are some familiar dishes on the menu, like the chicken makhani, which is one of the better versions you’ll find in San Francisco. There are also things like blue cheese naan, chanterelle mushroom kulchas, and street corn that seem like they wouldn’t work, but end up being some of the best things on the menu. What Besharam does well is balance flavors, both making for some interesting food and having it so that you can taste everything in a dish - whether it’s a spicy tomato rasam or a light coconut chutney - without it getting covered up or over-spiced by something else.
Then there’s the service, which is the only thing about Besharam that’s a bit rocky. Sometimes there will be a lot of time between dishes and then later, multiple courses will come out at once. Someone might also put a plate down in front of you and disappear without explaining what it is or if anything else is coming. Even though it’s rare, it happens, leaving you and whoever you’re with a little confused.
Overall though, Besharam is a good spot to come with a few friends if you’re in Dogpatch or are willing to trek a little bit to eat some good and interesting Indian food. It may be the bright colors and cool art that draw you in, but the food is what will keep you coming back.
Get this and split it with a few friends like it was a grilled cheese. The spicy chutney doesn’t overpower the blue cheese inside the naan and it’s a total hit.
A spongy quinoa pancake with fig chutney. The chutney is great, but this isn’t vital.
Essentially a dish of tempura vegetables that are supposed to fill the chips and salsa role. The vegetables are good and so is the tomato sauce it comes with, but sometimes the sauce is too chunky and requires utensils to scoop it onto the veg.
This is well-spiced and loaded with flavor, but you can still taste the lamb. The cracker roti it comes with is kind of awkward, but adds a good crunch. If you like lamb, go for it.
The best thing on the menu. The cashew cream sauce has the perfect amount of heat and if there’s leftover paratha by the time you’re done with the chicken, use it to get at the sauce.
The fish changes, but we’ve had this with cod. The flavors on this are light, but the dish is not. One of the few times you can pull away from a fish dish and not want to make a snack by the time you get home.