Stepping into Bernal Cutlery for the first time transported me back to some of my early childhood days when I would step into the local toy store and see walls decorated with ninja turtle action figures and shelves stacked high with the latest models of nerf gun. I wanted it all. Then and now. Bernal Cutlery near the corner of 18th St and Guerrero in the Mission District of San Francisco is a toy store for adults. Especially those of us who dabble in the culinary arts or appreciate a beautiful, well-made object.
Owner Josh Donald has created quite a dreamy environment in which to spend his days. If you visit you might find him, coffee in hand, vinyl collection and record player at arm’s reach, standing before a wall of shimmering steel and above a glass case of the same. Point out any of knife or other instrument on display and Josh will happily pull it out and explain the nuances of its design, material and manufacturer. His knowledge of the field is encyclopedic and he shares this wisdom in a friendly spirit.
Bernal Cutlery is not only for people in search of new cutlery. They also offer a service for those who have neglected knives resting in their kitchen or blades with previously smooth edges that have been destroyed in action. Bring your knives by and one of the trained sharpeners will go to work on the grinders and Japanese whetstones that sit opposite the knife counter. Even do-it-yourself types can find what they need. There is a large variety of sharpening implements for sale and there are courses offered in the shop that teach the skills necessary to sharpen tools on your own.
And if you need a nice new butcher block to go with those newly sharpened knives, Bernal Cutlery now carries Jacob May end-grain butcher blocks.