15 Jan Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Kali Restaurant
It has been a challenging two years for restaurants, to say the least! After two years, I returned to Kali, one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants that is not in my neighborhood. Despite the challenges of the past two years, Kali is thriving. Offering fine dining service in a casual atmosphere, fresh flavors, and an outdoor set-up, Kali Restaurant is the Please The Palate pick of the week.
In 2019, months before lockdown, Kali received a Michelin Star. This is a prestigious and well-deserved recognition as Kali has been open for six years and has continuously served elevated cuisine with impeccable service.
When the lockdown first happened, Kali was able to pivot quickly, converting their parking lot in the back of the restaurant into an outdoor dining room. They had also purchased a storage container before Covid that they planned to use for storage but have converted into a prep-station and back bar to easily service the outdoor diners. The outdoor space is large with tables spaced out. And the service is still at the top of its game!
Kali utilizes local and hyper-seasonal farmers’ market ingredients in the entire menu. There are dishes that continuously remain on the menu, such as the charred avocado salad, the black garlic Barley risotto, the sea urchin pasta, the Sonoma County duck breast, the dry-aged meats, and more. But there are also new dishes scattered throughout the menu.
We started with the Market Salad with seasonal fruits and roots and seeds including persimmon, pear, pickled carrots, lettuce, pomegranate seeds, oats, and crispy sunchoke.
We also started with the Scallop Ceviche in which delicately tender scallops that melted in the mouth sat in a citrus marinate with shiso leaves and crispy seaweed.
We were then served individual loaves of freshly baked bread made with honey and buttermilk with house-made rosemary butter. To me, this is perfection.
Kali has an exceptional wine list, as prepared by co-owner Drew Langley. But they also have an affordable corkage fee of $20 and I brought a bottle of Elvio Cogno 2019 Anas-Cetta, Nascetta del Commune di Novello to enjoy with the first part of our meal. This unique wine from Nascetta, the indigenous white grape in Barolo, has elegance, texture, and body to pair with salad and ceviche but also was a great match with our pasta dishes.
At Kali, the pasta dishes are available in two portion sizes, so we opted for the smaller portions in order to try a few different dishes. We could not miss their classic Sea Urchin Pasta with spaghetti, bread crumbs, ricotta whey, and topped with fresh sea urchin. The umami flavors give this pasta so much depth.
Perfect pockets of Agnolotti were stuffed with parsnips and topped with chive oil and crispy sunchokes.
While it is not the most photogenic of dishes, the Black Garlic Barley Risotto is a must have. Made with Fiscalini cheddar and koji butter, this dish is comfort food at its finest.
From the Kali wine list, we ordered a bottle of the JJ Chave Selection Silene 2019 Croze Hermitage to pair with our meat course.
Kali has a “Meats from the Vault” category on the menu with a selection of dry aged squab, duck and beef. We had the Flannery Beef 16oz. Dry Aged Ribeye with Roasted Mushrooms and Fingerling Potatoes and each bite was perfectly seasoned.