Opened in December of last year, Alta CA is yet another new upscale restaurant appearing in the quickly gentrifying Civic Center District of San Francisco. We recently paid a visit to Daniel Patterson’s co-owned establishment to judge whether the food, ambiance and service matched its 3 dollar prices. Below is a run-through of our experience.
[maxgallery id=”1439″]In contrast to an austere and unassuming entrance, the vibrant and modern interior is dominated by the restaurant’s showpiece : a backless bookshelf that extends the width of the restaurant and to the top of the ceiling. Straddling the shelf, the open kitchen and centralized bar give a social aspect to the environment and an awareness to the activities of the cooks, bartenders and servers.
Curious George – Whisky, Dill, Lemon and Smoked Egg Whites
[maxgallery id=”1428″]The frothy egg white topping offered a smokey tang and creamy texture to the overall drink. Mixed with whisky, dill and lemon, its taste was complex and best enjoyed alone as the robust flavors would interfere with other entrees.
Acorn Squash Soup – Smoked Chili, Pumpkin Seed
[maxgallery id=”1431″]Our starter dish was the light and creamy acorn squash soup. It was topped with chili powder and pumpkin seeds which offered the right amount of spice and texture differences.
Pacific Black Cod – Broccoli, Black Garlic, Dumplings and Meyer Lemon
[maxgallery id=”1433″]Our rather small portioned Black Cod had tender and buttery flesh with a seared lightly crisped crust. The fish sat on a bed of cooked (yet crunchy) julienne cut broccoli and sumptuous soft dumpling bits.
Braised Beef – Gigante Beans, Kale and Anchovy
[maxgallery id=”1435″]Unfortunately, our last entree’s beef and kale were slightly dry and seemed placed too long in a “keep warm” oven. However, if served fresh, the accompanied tender jumbo beans, bitter kale and salty anchovies would produce a balanced dish with proper flavor tensions.
The Malted: Rocky Road – Swirl, Pine, Marshmallow, Walnuts and Malt Balls
[maxgallery id=”1437″]We were excited when we saw our Rocky Road dessert placed in front of us. Despite wishing for creamier marshmallows, the crunchy toasted walnuts, malt ball bits and chocolate shavings offered the right amount of sweetness and paired well with the swirled ice cream. The homemade “Malted” dessert did taste like machine created “soft serve” ice cream which might turn off some ice cream connoisseur’s. Unexpectedly, we didn’t mind.
Despite some flaws we were generally pleased with the ambiance, entrees and service. The $105 bill (including tip) seemed in-line with the quality of our entrees. Our only gripes were the slightly dried out beef and soft served ice cream dessert that might be inappropriate for the targeted price league.