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San Francisco Bay Area Dinner

Unexpected Gem -- Axis Cafe for dinner


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Restaurants & Bars San Francisco Bay Area Dinner

Unexpected Gem -- Axis Cafe for dinner

Joan Kureczka | | Aug 7, 2008 09:37 PM

This place has been at the bottom of Potrero Hill for the last 3+ years and I'd never gone, thinking it just a lunch and coffee spot. They apparently opened for dinners (M-F only) recently and when they showed up in the Open Table update email, we decided to check them out.

Minimal evening business yet, but lovely modern cooking and a short, but interesting wine list (including a terrific 2004 Knebel Winn Bruck Ar Spatlese for $34).

The menu is heavy on apps and salads (11 this evening) ranging from simple warm, marinated olives to things like:
-- Chilled honeydew melon soup with cardomom graite, tart cherries and fried mint
-- Roasted qual with cracked wheat pilaf, green grape-hazelnut relish and molasses butter
-- Bison sliders with sage aioli, roasted tomato, manchego cheese, served with house fries
-- Dayboat scallops with fried green tomato, preserved lemon relish and sage-brown butter

We both had a good little gem salad: leaves with a light lemon-shallot vinagrette, freshly made croutons and a large parmesan crisp. Nice.

We both had the same entree:
-- Grilled chicken breast served sliced over paparadelle with bacon, leeks, black garlic and pecorino. Other than wishing the pecorino had been more thinly shaved this was excellent for the chilly evening. The black garlic was interesting but neither added to or detracted from the dish.

Other entrees (6 total) included some delicious-sounding veg entrees like a lemon farro risotto with trumpet mushrooms, asparagus and parmesan, a Spanish influenced striped bass with jasmine rice, tomato confit, mussels and chorizo, a braised oxtail dish and a couple others.

We did not get dessert but the list was equally appealing, particularly the trio of little ice cream sandwiches with flavors like bourbon vanilla, dulce de leche and a cherry plus I-forget-what-ingredient. I'm not a dessert person, but most of the offerings were more tempting than usual. There is also a choice of four cheeses: tonight a manchego, Humboldt Fog, St. Andre, and Port Salut.

Added pluses: it's quiet (which will change if they get crowds due to hard surfaces), there is a gas fireplace surrounded by comfy plush chairs and sofas, and.... in the evening.... almost unlimited street parking! There is also an outdoor patio with seating and another fireplace.

Axis Cafe
1201 8th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107