A new Mission restaurant caught our attention recently for its specialization in fish focused dishes. The establishment is being led by Aaron London, former chef of michelin starred Ubuntu, James Beard Award Nominee, and previous bartender at Locanda. We recently set out to the Mission to experience London’s interpretation on modern pescetarian friendly cuisine.
Exterior / Interior
[maxgallery name=”als-place-restaurant-san-francisco-interior-and-exterior”]With the visually bold electric blue walls, it’s not hard to notice the new restaurant in town at the corner of 26th and Valencia. We by no means endorse illegal graffiti vandalism but the clean and untouched nature of the restaurant’s freshly painted exterior walls seemed to be a fitting canvas for a little Mission-style cultural color. Inside, the decor’s white walls, tiled floors, wood topped tables, frameless hung paintings, and retro ceiling lamps produced a clean modern style that successfully struck a balance between cold austerity and traditional comfort.
Mr. Blue (Vergano Americano, Cardamaro, Dolin Blanc, Mandarin Bitters) – 10
[maxgallery name=”als-place-restaurant-san-francisco-mr-blue-cocktail”]When Mr. Blue arrived, our eyes first gazed upon an impressive sized block of ice which laid tilted in the super-sized conical shaped glass. Surrounding the ice, the mahogany colored liquor seemed almost an afterthought as it rose halfway up the glass. The ice cube was more than just show, as its slow melting tamed the liquor’s robust sweetness and allowed our palates to better discern complex flavors of herbs, cherry and citrus peel. Mr. Blue’s interesting flavor profile and low alcohol content sent us back to the cocktail menu for another drink.
Ms. Brown (Manzanilla, Dolin Dry, Cocchi Torino, Grapefruit Bitters) – 10
[maxgallery name=”als-place-restaurant-san-francisco-ms-brown”]The Ms. Brown seemed to be a shadow of itself. The watery cocktail exhibited distant complex flavors and finished with a mild bitter taste but these fleeting attributes were merely echoes in a cocktail having an overall dull profile and flat mouthfeel.
Fish Mullet, Preserved Lime, Garlic Dip – 8
[maxgallery name=”als-place-restaurant-san-francisco-fish-mullet”]”Just so you know, most of the flavor is locked away in the skin”. A server proclaimed as she placed a cut of broiled cod on our table. Setting aside the knowledge that fish skin can be a source of industry pollutants, we understand the skin can also be a source of flavorful and healthy fats. This example was no exception, as the crispy charred skin bursted with flavor and paired well with the fish’s tender and supple white flesh. A miso aioli was provided but mainly left untouched as it tended to mask an already savory prepared fish.
Mixed Brassicas, Yuzu, Pickled Radish, Wild Mushrooms – 15
[maxgallery name=”als-place-restaurant-san-francisco-brassicas”]What was that fragrant flavor in the mixed brassicas bowl? We thought to ourselves, as we delighted on a medley of chopped romanesco broccoli, broccolini sprigs, maitake mushrooms, pickled radish shavings, and citrus slices. A light liquid miso sauce covered the veggie, fungi, and fruit assortment and added an element of savoriness. We came to know later the mystery ingredient Yuzu was responsible for giving the mixed brassicas a unique tartiness and favorable citrus fragrance.
Sunchoke Curry, Black Lime Cod, Grapefruit – 17
[maxgallery name=”als-place-restaurant-san-francisco-sunchoke-curry”]Once our waitress placed the sunchoke curry bowl on the table, we only had a moment to appreciate an artful arrangement of thin black cod portions, pink grapefruit chunks, candied citrus slices, and coriander leaves. Within seconds she poured a sunchoke puree into the shallow bowl and submerged the ingredients under the warm airy liquid. The puree exhibited earthy flavors, a slight sweetness, and combined well with the delicate fresh cod and grapefruit bits. The interactions of both sweet and savory brought an interesting element to a dish already excelling in ingredient freshness.
Tonnarelli, Green Garlic, Bergamot, Bottarga – 15
[maxgallery name=”als-place-restaurant-san-francisco-tonnarelli”]Salted cured fish roe grated over the tonnarelli pasta gave a slight briny note to an overall mild dish that was notable for its freshness of ingredients and balance of flavors. A light green sauce infused the pasta with subtle nut and onion flavors, a nearly indiscernible flowery fragrance, and a touch of bitter and sweet.
Trout, Green Peaches, Almond, Crab Butter – 17
[maxgallery name=”als-place-restaurant-san-francisco-trout-almond”]With its pink color and layered structure, the thick trout fillet resembled a salmon steak but possessed a less oily texture and milder taste compared to its genetically close cousin. The trout’s mild meat paired well with the minimally sweet sliced almond topping and savory pool of crab butter sauce.
Meyer Lemon Tart, Persimmon, Lavender, Almond – 7
[maxgallery name=”als-place-restaurant-san-francisco-meyer-lemon-tart”]With the Ms. Brown cocktail as the only notable flaw in an otherwise positive dining experience, we headed into the dessert with elevated expectations. Unfortunately, the dessert suffered from excessively gelatinous and overly tart lemon filling, stiff crust, and clump of tasteless persimmon topping.
Final Thoughts [usr 3.5]
[maxgallery name=”als-place-restaurant-final-bill-final-thoughts”]There was a lot to like about our experience. Exceptional service, exceedingly fresh and properly cooked fish, unique ingredients such as yuzu and bergamot, and accompaniments that highlighted rather than concealed the delicate flavors of the fish. Despite a watery cocktail and lackluster dessert, we were generally pleased with each of the dishes. We did, however, have a marginal dissatisfaction to a rather expensive bill of $128 (for two) including tip, which called for somewhat larger portions.