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842 Valencia Street (near 20th Street)
San Francisco, CA 94110
Cuisine: California/American cuisine
Pluses: modern and warm atmosphere, creative food, top service at moderate prices
Minuses: parking in the Mission with no valet option
Don't Miss: Menu changes daily with interesting soups/appetizers and entrees.
Prices: Moderate with appetizers starting at $6 and $10, entrees cost $17 up to $20.
Overview: Hours: dinner nightly; reservations accepted via phone and online; credit cards accepted.†
Chef Phil West and his wife Cameron opened this new and exciting restaurant in 2005 to add more flair to the already flourishing Mission district restaurant scene. Immediately, the reviews were stellar and noted the nascent restaurant for the sophisticated atmosphere, innovative food and moderate prices. The service is flawless and the food is even better. On one recent visit, the soup, a puree of parsnips and almonds, was outstanding. Each spoonful was creamy and had a velvety texture, shadowed with a hint of the olive oil that had been drizzled over the top. One fish, a halibut, was flakey and meaty all at the same time, while the brick oven chicken, an often ordinary dish at many restaurants, turned out tender and juicy. The meat had the right “falling off the bone” quality, while the skin was beautifully bronzed with the perfect crunch. Served with the chicken was a bacon and walnut stuffing that was delicious and interesting. Another noteworthy main dish includes the braised short ribs with spaetzle, kale and shitake mushrooms. Vegetarian dishes change constantly. Sautéed mushrooms with barley and peppercress is one example. The superb deserts are definitely worth trying including the soufflé with eggnog and a shot of hot chocolate, and the chocolate almond butter cake with cardamon ice cream and brandy apricots. A manageable wine list with nice choices and a full bar are also part of the experience.