Armed with pastry chef Kaley Laird and sous chef Blake Askew, Top Chef runner-up Casey Thompson recently opened Aveline on the north edge of San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. Thompson promises an upscale California cuisine filled with passion and inspiration from her French roots and prior culinary experiences. This promise, along with a significant amount of buzz and media attention, brought us recently to Aveline’s doorstep. Below is a summary of our experiences.
Interior / Exterior
Cocktail De Triomphe, Rhum, Lime, Sloe Gin, Pink Peppercorn, Bitters ($12)
Yolk Beignet, Wagyu, Lardo, Trotter Sauce ($25)
Amberjack, Salted Banana, Black Lime, Cherry Blossom, Ham Snow ($22)
Palate Reset, Pistachio, Ricotta, Peach, Mint ($6)
Campanelle, Pig Cheek, Smoked Yogurt, Cracklin’ ($24)
Buttered Peas, Candied Mint, coffee, apricot cake, meringue ($13)
There were some flaws but overall the menu’s unique ingredients and unconventional dish preparations combined to form dishes that represented more than the sum of their parts and echoed an adventuresome and intelligent culinary philosophy. The final bill of $146 (including tip) is fine dining territory and we wonder if the city’s burgeoning young generation will appreciate such detail and pay a premium for this kind of effort. As the mature population might be less inclined to venture into the restaurant’s Tenderloin location, viability of the business will depend on a strong young base. For those willing to pay for a dining and culinary learning experience in an upscale more traditional setting we recommend giving Aveline a try.