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Restaurants & Bars 5

Al's Place, San Francisco

tjinsf | Feb 17, 2015 10:48 PM

I don't usually recommend a place until I've been there a few times but even having only dined here twice I am so excited about the food at Al's Place. This is the place to take your favorite vegetarian as well as your favorite pescatarian and carnivore. Everyone will be happy and you can share so many dishes.

Also compared to other mid-range places that are open currently it wouldn't break the bank with dishes under 20. You will still probably spend 20-40 a person with tax and tip.

The menu is divided into four sections- snacks, Cold dishes, Warm/Hot dishes and Sides. It was suggested that we order one from each section to share and that's just what we did.

First visit
SNACKS:
The snacks had familar trendy flavour vadouvan (ie. dutch curry), fennel and other seasoning.

We got the Fritters with fennel sauce , which was three very light freshly fried dough ball that were more like beignet in texture than American fritter. Our order came with 3 fritters, our neighbors had 4. These were perfect delicious little bites.

COLD DISH: there were four cold dish several which were vegetarian

Trout with kolrabi mousse, potatoes and broth $16-
This was a smaller dish than we expected for the price but it was very satisfying with lots of flavour. We asked for some of the Josey Baker bread to soak up the broth and mousse. The only negative was the tiny amount of trout, three tiny 1/4 inch strips of cured trout that was gone in three bites.

WARM: Again there were four dishes with a couple vegetarian including the one we ordered.

Tonarelli $16- this was a beautiful pasta dish with a sauce that made me want to lick the plate. Again not a huge portion but perfectly sized when combined with our other dishes. We added poached egg $2 which was needed but is never a bad thing on a plate of pasta.

SIDE-the sides are meat and seafood and are actually the most expensive thing
Dungeness crab $20, again not a huge portion and perhaps not something I would get again, this was very sweet crab served already broken up but not unshelled and with a dipping sauce that was good but not needed.

We had a bottle of sparkling water and house made tangerine cream soda that was delicious and made with fresh cream.

Dessert there were three dessert choice all for 7 dollars
Key lime tart with quince compote and ice cream. This was not as inspired as the rest of the meal and a bit of disappointment.

They add that damn Health Care fee rather than sucking it up and roll it into their costs.

Second visit
snack-chickpeas a la catalan, quince romesco, small bowl of fried chickpeas similar to the ones you get for free in Spanish bars.

Cold: mixed brassicas, sudachi, pickled radish, wild mushrooms. I think I would have preferred this as a warm dish but it was a good hearty tasting dish. $15

Side-Jowl Ham, 13, I honestly don't know what Jowl Ham is but I do know it was delicious. It's not a huge portion, more than enough for one person, perhaps not enough for two big meat eaters.

Warm:sunchoke curry, black lime-cod, grapefruit 17, the chef really has a great hand at seafood and this was true for this dish, fish cooked just right, tender and moist, curry with strong but not overpowering seasoning, nice bite of acid.

DECOR:
The space is very simple with not a piece of reclaimed wood in sight but lots of sound baffling panels on the wall. I LOVE it. It's still noisy but not as bad as it could be. The chairs are wood and not the most comfortable. There is a small bar with 6 stools where the bartender is making creative cocktails since they don't have full liquor license. They clearly have spent far more thought on the food than the decor and I really appreciated how they went for function over fashion.

The kitchen is tiny and there are only two chefs on hot stations and two sous doing the cold prep with A.L. doing the pass and it was all running very smoothly.

The space is wheelchair accessible but walk ways are narrow. The lighting was very good and the menu type was easy to read.

For only being open a couple of weeks the service was friendly if a bit scattered but again all the service including the bartender who doubled as a server at the bar were able to make suggestions and knew the menu.

Al's Place,
Josey Baker Bread
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