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Chef Jon Hearnsberger has always had a soft spot for the Aesop?s fable ?The Boy and the Nettles.? The moral of the story? Whatever you do, do it with all your might.

That very allegory is etched into one of the mirrors at his new restaurant on Castro Street, aptly--if transparently--called Fable.

Not that Hearnsberger takes his latest culinary venture too seriously. A resident of the Castro for more than 20 years, he says he wanted to open a casual neighborhood eatery that serves affordable comfort food with a dose of whimsy. His playful approach is reflected in Fable?s orange antler chandeliers, wallpaper that resembles reclaimed wood and wall of anthropomorphized animal prints by Portland artist Ryan Berkley.

The new-American menu--so new it isn't on Fable's site yet!--puts a California spin (read: organic, sustainable) on classics like pot roast. Items will change seasonally, but we hope Hearnsberger continues to serve what we had there last week: A pancetta and quince tart with sage, creamed leeks and a Champagne vinaigrette is a hearty option for the meat lover at your table. And a ?beetloaf?--made with beets (duh), brown rice, lentils, almond butter and spices--is ideal for the vegan.

We pleaded with Hearnsberger to make the Parmesan popovers (currently served alongside the pot roast) a separate item on the menu. We?ll be back to see if he took our suggestion.

558 Castro St.; 415-590-2404

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