This weekend we tried Al's place in the Mission. This is a new restaurant started by Aaron London who was the chef at Ubuntu in Napa after Jeremy Fox left. We really loved Ubuntu and were sad when it closed. Al's place is vegetable heavy but not vegetarian (Ubuntu was vegetarian). We felt that the vegetarian options at Al's place were the highlights of the meal and reminded us of Ubuntu. All in we really enjoyed it and felt like it was another good dinning option in the mission. We tried the family tasting menu.
Here is what we ate:
french fries, smoked apple sauce. Pretty good, but not excellent French fries.
garden fritters, fennel mayo.
Excellent. They seemed part falafel part fritter. Flavorful and moist inside, crunchy outside.
An excellent mixed salad with bitter greens.
mixed brassicas, sudachi, pickled radish, wild mushrooms. This tasted like something from Ubuntu. Really delicious brassicas with umami packed maitake mushrooms. Excellent.
tonarelli, green garlic, bergamot, botarga. Our least favorite dish. The texture of the pasta seemed off, very al dente but at the same time lacking toothsome texture and chew. The bottarga came off as fishy and the green garlic seemed harsh. All in all off balanced.
Cured trout with crunchy potatoes, a quince broth and some kind of foam. The potatoes and trout were excellent but the quince broth and foam seemed unnecessary and didn't add anything to the dish.
Grits with mushrooms and peas. Ubuntu used to make similar dishes. This was excellent. The umami packed mushrooms perfectly complimented the creamy grits. Vegetarian food doesn't get much better than this.
There also brought out an additional complimentary savory course when we told them we wanted another savory dish. This was a delicious bean stew with big crunchy breadcrumbs.
The dessert was an round chocolate cakes with peanuts and peanut butter ice cream. I am extremely picky and often unsatisfied with desserts. But this one was spectacular. Deeply chocolaty and not cloyingly sweet. The crunchy peanuts and ice cream were perfect accompaniments and enhanced the dish.
All in all we really enjoyed the meal and will definitely come back. Compared to Bar Tartine which is also in the mission and which we also love, the food was less experimental and more vegetable focused.