I was pleasantly surprised by dinner at Azie on Sunday. Somehow I had managed never to eat there before. It's a very appealing space, a tall, loft-like room with a dramatic two-story "dining pavilion" in the middle connecting with a mezzanine dining area. Lots of Asian touches, big paper lanterns, slightly R-rated, framed Japanese woodcuts on the walls, good lighting and great music at just the right level to enjoy without drowning the conversation. Three of us sat in one of several roomy booths to the right on the ground floor -- booths have Old San Francisco-style curtains that could presumably be drawn for privacy.
We had a terrific server who knew everything about the food, gave some great suggestions, and knew exactly how much to chat and when to vanish.
Azie, like its sibling LuLu next-door, serves food family-style and encourages sharing. I'm still not convinced that I like this, though I always do like to taste my companions' food. This way, though, we felt obligated to split everything three ways, and the combinations were not always harmonious.
That said, the food was very good. The stand-outs, to my mind, were the appetizer Dungeness Crab spring rolls with Thai dipping sauce (cilantro nuoc cham), and an entree -- red curry of shredded duck on coconut milk risotto with spiced rhubarb. Gorgeous fresh flavor and texture combinations in both dishes. The monkfish with crispy veal sweetbreads, blue hubbard squash puree and a veal reduction was also very good. Best dessert was a barely-sweet and sinfully rich Saint-Andre cheesecake in cranberry soup.
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