Three Things to Order at Two Hot New Openings in San Francisco
San Francisco is already so fortunate to have the talented Melissa Perello and her restaurant Frances in our collection of culinary crown jewels, and now there is another ruby to add: Octavia. Visitors won’t want to miss her latest spot when they come to San Francisco. Perello is having fun with this menu, and while it’s still rooted in her own breed of Cali cuisine, she is expanding the flavor profiles and presentation to a style that feels very au courant here. The best way to order here is with lots of small dishes to taste the full range of Perello’s skilled and soulful cooking.
Egg lovers will gravitate toward the spicy “deviled egg” ($4); the creamy yolk runs into a bed of Fresno chile relish and is covered in a blend of chiles and sesame—it evokes the flavors of Istanbul with its notes of Marash and cumin.
Grilled Beef Tongue
Grilled beef tongue ($8) in a bone marrow broth? Just say yes. This is a winner, even if beef tongue might sound a tad scary. In fact, you should just cover your table with a bunch of these smaller plates, order one of beverage director Paul Einbund’s vermouth cocktails and call it a party. Your eyes will be enchanted; your palate abundantly compensated.
For something more substantial, her pasta dishes are always well executed. The current selection is paccheri ($13) loaded with plump clams, shaved garlic and fennel pollen pangrattato (you want to get this, trust me). The flavors of spring really pop and the fresh seafood is oh-so-San Francisco, but with a non-traditional spin.
Reservations are recommended, and there will also be seats reserved for walk-ins. Dinner nightly 5–10:30 p.m. 1701 Octavia St. at Bush, 415-408-7507.
Aatxe (say “aah-CHAY”) just opened on the ground floor of the Swedish American Hall and Cafe du Nord. This Spanish- and Basque-inspired restaurant has local chef Ryan Pollnow at the helm (he was previously the chef de cuisine at Central Kitchen), so expect some Cali flair and ingredients to be integrated in the dishes. Pollnow has traveled and cooked in the Basque Country and is inspired to re-create the region’s convivial feeling around food.
Array of Pintxos
Pollnow’s menu starts with an array of pintxos like borage leaf croquettes and a classic gilda (a spear of anchovy, olive and a green bean in this case)—you can get all four for $11. These are especially delicious with one of the many sherries on the menu, so don’t forget one of those.
Double-Fried Patatas Bravas
Tapas-sized plates include double-fried patatas bravas ($8.50), a Spanish dish that many find dated and have stopped ordering. Don’t make that mistake here: Pollnow’s version completely rocks. The potatoes are served with creamy aioli on the side, and dressed with pimento and tomato.
Spanish Fried Rice
The Spanish fried rice ($14) shows the kitchen’s playfulness in a dish that is going to become a new late-night favorite: diced chorizo, rapini and salt cod tortilla are mixed into the rice and it had great texture, almost like a paella’s socarrat. Don’t miss it!
And what to drink with all those fab little dishes? The varied wine selections include a number of smaller Spanish producers, with lots of whites, and range from the delicate to the bold. You’ll be in good hands for pairings.
Aatxe: dinner Sunday-Thurday 5:30–11 p.m. and Friday–Saturday 5:30 p.m.–12 a.m. Reservations and walk-ins welcome. 2170 Market St. at Sanchez, 415-471-2977.
Marcia Gagliardi is the creator of www.tablehopper.com, a popular insider weekly e-column about the SF dining scene; subscribe for more news, tips, and updates. Follow her on Twitter: @tablehopper. Dana Eastland is the associate editor for tablehopper.com.
Photo via Octavia.