Melanie Wong | May 30, 202011:53 PM    

During Covid-19 shelter-in-place, Chef Mourad Lahlou has consolidated the operations of his two restaurants Mourad (Michelin one-star) and Aziza at the latter's venue. Last week before the end of Ramadan, I stopped by to pick-up a takeaway order.

This was my first time back to Aziza since an initial dinner in 2002 when the restaurant was new. It had closed for a spell, and re-opened just this past fall. Though the furniture was shuffled to support take-out and delivery pick-ups, the remodeled dining room is gorgeous. One can only hope that it will be full of diners again before too long. Chef Mourad was in the kitchen that night and brought out my purchase.

Wine and cocktails available for take-out are on display. Aziza has small screw-cap bottles to package individual servings of its cocktails. With some restaurants only selling in double or triple-sized cocktail batches, I appreciated being able to buy a single serving.

My order was ready on-time, complete with Chef Mourad's autograph.

The boxed trio of spreads: white bean & vadouvan oil spread, pequillo & almond, lebni spread & smoked trout roe with grilled bread, $13, was an ideal light meal late that night when I finally got home. I liked all three though the pequillo pepper one topped with toasted pine nuts might be too sweet for some. Even applying them lavishly to the four pieces of levain bread from Jane bakery, there was still more of the spreads than I could eat at one sitting. I enjoyed them later in week with breakfast bagels.

Royalty cocktail to go: Toki Suntory whiskey, amaro Sibona, sour apple, cranberry, St. george spiced pear, lemon, $12. Provided with a dehydrated slice of citrus and borage flowers, I poured the pretty coral-colored blend over ice into an old fashioned glass. A lovely libation for kicking back after a long day, offering great depth of flavor and complexity with spice, bitter herbal tones, tart fruit and refreshing citrus notes, I enjoyed this immensely.

Take & bake basteeya, $20, was my breakfast the following morning. It can also be ordered hot and fully baked. This was served with a side of verjus creme fraiche.

The baking instructions for 30 minutes on a rack in a 380-degree oven yielded perfect results. I sieved confectioners sugar over the golden brown flaky pastry but did not add cinnamon. This is Aziza's style of basteeya made with chicken confit (versus Mourad's smaller version with duck) and large enough to serve two. it's aggressively spiced and the sugar plus the creme fraiche smoothed out flavors.

Slow cooked beef short rib with braised kale, $45, was reheated for dinner using the aluminum foil wrapping. A huge boneless slab, this was two generous servings.

This plated portion was about one-third of the short rib. I was surprised to cut into it and see that it was still pink inside. Velvety smooth and soft in texture, deeply beefy, and straightforward. The beef short rib is a riff on one of the signature dishes at Mourad. I was sorry I'd forgotten to order couscous as a side dish for this.

Also available are some pantry items, including an organic produce box, harissa, olives, and even chicken stock for $6 per quart that I should have bought. Just means that I have to go back.

This meal delivered on taste, quality and value. Food and beverage prices are discounted from the normal charges. There is a 4% SF Mandate charge, but no mandatory service charge.

Mourad @ Aziza
5800 Geary Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94121

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