Treasure Island's Newest Jewel Mersea Restaurant

Despite being born and raised in San Francisco, I can count the times I've actually visited Treasure Island, the man-made island in the bay, on one hand. That's all about to change thanks to the discovery of the recently opened restaurant, Mersea. The city's new island oasis is unlike any other restaurant you're going to find in the Bay Area. Made entirely of recycled shipping containers, this restaurant features incredible views of the San Francisco skyline, the Bay Bridge, and the Golden Gate Bridge.

The kitchen is helmed by Executive Chef Parke Ulrich, known for upscale restaurants, Waterbar and Epic, both located on The Embarcadero, so you know the food is good. The menu is filled with globally-inspired dishes that showcase the diversity of the Bay Area community. Mersea is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner and offers a selection of wine, beers, and vivacious cocktails including my favorite, the M3 with ciroc, coconut vodka, pineapple, and ginger beer.

I had the pleasure of dining at Mersea for dinner and absolutely loved the island-y, laid-back ambiance and friendly, attentive service. In addition to the indoor bar and dining space, it has a very cool private dining room deemed the "Board Room" — a nod to Chef Parke's passion for surfing and water — which features a knockout mural of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

Mersea's commitment to repurposing materials in its design can be easily admired as you walk through the space. From the reuse of pallets to create outdoor seating areas and an herb and succulent garden to the conversion of the MRDK military kitchen panel doors into four large communal tables, it's very impressive. The coolest design element? As a tribute to the old Treasure Island Bowling Alley, artist and carpenter, Joe Wrye and Chef Parke built two communal tables from the former maple bowling alley lanes.

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Be sure to start with Parke's chowder with haddock, bacon, and potatoes; and the French fries to share (they're addictive!). For your main course, you can't go wrong with any of the island favorites. Standouts include the P3 sandwich with shaved pork shoulder, pepperoni, and provolone; short rib and spätzle gratin with red wine braised beef; fish and chips with beer-battered haddock; or the giant loaded potato topped with roasted squash, mushrooms, onions, sweet peppers, and sour cream. Wrap up your meal with a sundae such as a brownie delight with salted caramel ice cream, brownies, chocolate sauce, and peanuts or a baked-to-order-brownie.

The Daily Meal sat down with Executive Chef Parke Ulrich Executive Chef and Co-Founder MeeSun Boice, to talk about the restaurant and how it's helping to transform the culinary scene on Treasure Island.

The Daily Meal: Where did the concept for Mersea come from?

MeeSun and Chef Parke: Both Parke and I were actively involved with Treasure Island Yacht Club and learned there was a need for a restaurant that was open for dinner so, we worked with One Treasure Island (Formerly Treasure Island Homeless Development Initiative) to possibly create a restaurant that served not only guests, but support the community by providing employment and training for Treasure Island residents and formerly career challenged individuals. We presented our plan to TIDA Board and they accepted.

The idea of shipping containers was born out of the fact that there were many companies on the island that stored shipping containers and it proved to be the perfect 'semi-permanent' solution — considering the fact that the island was "under construction and development" and we thought they might reject a 'permanent' solution. It was also an homage to the naval history of the island.

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The Daily Meal: Treasure Island isn't known, at least yet, for its culinary scene. Why did you choose it as the location for Mersea?

MeeSun and Chef Parke: We only need to see the view to fall in love! We were not thinking about a 'culinary' scene, as much as our desire to be a 'destination' place for guests to bring friends and family and enjoy the view AND the food. We wanted food that people could enjoy daily, and not just for 'special occasions'. The one thing we were clear about was that we did not want to be a place with a great view and 'terrible' food.

The QUALITY and freshness of the food we serve surprised many of our guests. I think because we are a 'casual' restaurant, with repurposed, recycled and upcycled environment, our guests were not expecting the culinary experience to be as delicious as it is! Parke stays true to his commitment to freshness and seasonality at Mersea (even though we are 'casual') as he does his two primary restaurants Epic and Waterbar.

The Daily Meal: How do you see the island progressing in the next five years?

MeeSun and Chef Parke: More places to eat, drink or shop? It's difficult to 'predict'. In the next 3-5 years — we understand that the primary focus is the to build out the infrastructure of the island, so the idea of more places to eat, drink or shop may be further down the road. We took a risk to build as early as we did. But the opportunity to have a location with the view was worth the risk.

The Daily Meal: What inspires the menu at Mersea?

Chef Parke: The dishes are childhood favorites, comfort food I grew up with that evoke sentimental memories. The dishes are also driven by the seasonality of the ingredients.

The Daily Meal: What are three things that'll surprise people when they arrive at the restaurant?

MeeSun and Chef Parke: What 'shocks' guests the most is the VIEW! Whether first-time tourists to guests who have lived in San Francisco for 20-30 years who have NEVER seen the San Francisco skyline, such as the one from inside our 'containers', they're always floored.

This leads to the 2nd most common 'surprise', that guests are actually sitting inside a shipping container — the experience of sitting 'inside' a shipping container and 'living/dining' in one. Especially surreal, is when they see the huge cargo ships holding the shipping containers float past on the water.

And third? Guests have been pleasantly surprised that we have activities such as two different putting greens (one is a 5-hole professional level putting green and the other a small 1-hole putting green surrounded by huge boulders), home-built 2-lane bocce court and even home-made corn-holes. Activities that lend themselves for people to enjoy each other's company and not just sit to stare at a phone. This was our goal — "enjoy each other"!

For more information on Mersea, click here.