09 Sep Al’s Place, San Francisco
A few months ago, I was driving from Sonoma to Monterey when a friend called to see if I wanted to join him and some friends for dinner in San Francisco. He mentioned that it was a hard-to-get reservation and they had someone drop out last minute. I took a detour on my drive and went into the city to have dinner at Al’s Place. Sadly, I came down with a 24-hour bug that same night and could not eat a single bite. I sat there at dinner, wishing but unable to eat and missing out on what Bon Appetit Magzine called “the country’s best new restaurant” and a 2016 recipient of One Michelin Star.
Months later, on another trip to San Francisco, my friend was able to get a reservation so that I could actually try the food.
Al’s Place is located in the Mission and is a simple, but bright, space with approximately 50 seats and an open kitchen in the back. The staff is young, friendly and very knowledgeable, both about the food and the wine.
The menu is focused on seasonal vegetables and seafood and meat are a “side dish.” And the menu is my favorite kind – one in which you can, and should, share the dishes. This way you can order a little of everything on the menu!
SNACKLES – These small snacks are perfect to start.
Olives with ras el hanout – The olives are warm and coated in ras el hanout, a spice mix from North Africa with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg that give the olives a pungent flavor.
Fava’d mushroom broth chawanmushi with cherry and pistachio – This egg custard dish is exquisite. Light and creamy at the same time with earthy, umami flavors from the mushrooms and nuts and a tart, sweet note from the cherries.
Brine pickled french fries with smoked apple sauce – The fries are not crunchy and have a slight sour note from the pickling. The smoked apple sauce is so good it needs to be jarred and sold!
The wine list offers unique wines from around the world and they are affordable. There are approximately fifteen wines by-the-glass, including sherry, and bottles are on average between $46-$80, although there are a few that are higher.
Baby lettuces with herbed avocado and pistachio crumble
Pork belly with galangal soda brussel and apricot chi and roe – A mixture of sweet and savory, this is a dish that melted in the mouth.
Trouty brioche with creamy cheese, pickled green peach and limey trout roe – The server described how this dish was prepared and how the trout was cooked into the brioche. All I know is that is was buttery, salty happiness.
5 Dot Ranch 35-day aged ribeye – The ribeye was cooked just enough and salted perfectly so that it almost melted in the mouth.
Warm brownie with PB ice cream and payday filling and Baked strawberry with coconut and swarnadwipa – The warm brownie was pure decadence but the baked strawberry with coconut and swarnadwipa (a curry spice blend) was refreshing and savory. Both desserts paired perfectly with a glass of fruity Brachetto d’Acqui.
I am glad I got a second chance to each at Al’s Place and it is on my list to return to on another trip to San Francisco.
1499 Valencia St. (at 26th Street)
San Francisco, CA 94110