Last night I went to this new place on Balboa and 8th Avenue, which has been open for exactly a month. Since I live in the area, I was praying it would be good, because the neighborhood really needs a place like this. I was not at all disappointed; in fact, I was very pleasantly suprised by how good the food and service was, given how new it is.
The space is very nicely done (though still has that 'needs to be broken in' feeling) - they took over the old Jakarta and divided the space into a tiny wine bar and two separate rooms, giving a cozy yet airy feel with plenty of space between tables (which were all full in our room, on a Tuesday night).
We were served a fresh small baguette still warm from the oven with three butters - whipped, tarragon/pasley, and kalamata olive. We were also given a little amuse with melon and fennel oil, among other ingredients. I had a glass of a NZ sauvignon blanc for $5.50 which was very nice (Though a previous poster correctly pointed out that their wine list seems to contain an inodinate number of wines over $100 and up to $315 (!), I was happy to see a good-sized list of interesting wines by the glass.) The menu indicates their veggies are local and organic, and states "all of our products are made in house."
For a starter we split the excellent heirloom tomato salad with warm corn, crispy sunchoke and avocado salsa, sweet corn sauce and fennel oil ($8.95) - a great blend of flavors.
For entrees, we had the wild line caught salmon with chive mashed potatoes and saffron bourride ($15.95), and the half-pound cheeseburger with vermont cabot cheddar and fontina, anchiote ketchup, mustard aioli and hand-cut french fries ($8.50). Both were outstanding, perfectly cooked and beautifully presented. We were too full to have dessert.
After our meal the chef came out to our table to thank us for supporting him, and told us that most of his materials come from local suppliers, so as a result their menu changes quite frequently - though they are planning to stabilize it a bit in the near future. He said that he and his wife looked at over 20 locations before deciding on the Richmond, including Potrero Hill, Downtown, etc., and that they were very happy to have chosen this neighborhood for the opportunity to do something new there. It is certainly a big risk for a restaurant like this to open in this location, and I really hope they make it.
I will definitely be back to try some other things on their menu (seared scallops, seared NY stead with pancetta and camambert, etc) and some dessert!
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