|Sunday, December 6, 2009
Chef Melissa Perello had hoped to open Frances (named for her Grandmother) in October, but one must take San Francisco restaurant opening information with a grain of fleur de sel.
After stints at Charles Nob Hill and the Fifth Floor, Chef Perello has created a pond of her own at 17th Street where her focussed menu and wine program reveal the purveyor preoccupied personality behind the cuisine creation.
A little Heath ramekin of hot, herbed almonds:
... greeted us as we sat down at one of the walnut tables in the diminutive dining room.
The wine program includes house blends made with David Corey of Core Wine Company. The white is a Grenache Blanc and Roussanne blend that we couldn’t leave a-rhone due to its tropical fruit, citrus appeal and good acidity. The red is a Syrah, Grenache and Cabernet combo with a jammy, black fruit, drinkability. Both are a mere buck an ounce. This cleverly carafe-ted concept delivers wines in decanters with demarkations denoting drinking degrees:
After you have dispensed the desired dosage, the tally is taken and you are charged for what was discharged. These beverages aren’t for wine snobs, they are for pleasurable drinking paired with the house chow.
The red kuri frites ($6.50):
... were sweet, orange smiles of squash that squished the image of the french fry-like version that we had imagined. We launched these tender, nutty vegetable canoes in an aioli with pimeton and espelette pepper.
Even if you don’t like beets, you should check out this pickled version ($6.50):
... served with radish slices. This cold salad had a nice acid angle as a counterpoint to its earthy roots.
Lamb and pork meatballs ($6.50):
... rolled out with a salsa verde to add a tangy touchdown to these kale-kicked orbs which will keep us cumin back.
We said yes to the Gnocchi ($12.00):
... with chunks of duck confit, beet greens and Grana Padano. These soft, semolina cylinders went down swimmingly with the rich broth.
It could be argued that anything wrapped in Boccalone lardo is given an anabolic advantage, but without the proper cooking, this cod ($23.00):
... could have trapped in a gilded pig cage. This perfectly cooked fish had us hooked. Cippolini onions, Brussels sprouts and a squash puree sent his off the scale.
A hunk of beef ($23.00):
... was slow cooked to remind us of a pot roast done right. Fried shallots haloed this perfectly seasoned tower of butter boosted mashed potatoes and creamed winter greens.
Nobody knew where the name for our dessert came from, but the “Lumberjack Cake” ($6.50):
... made us feel like putting on women’s clothing and hanging around in bars. We clear cut this plot of warm Warren pear, medjool date and brown sugar cake which was far from run of the mill. A scoop of Humphrey Slocombe walnut ice cream added the perfect timbre to this grovey sweet.
The service was friendly, efficient, knowledgeable and non-judgmental as we followed up dessert with an appetizer.
Bacon beignets ($6.50):
... had been parading past our table and we had to smoke some out for ourselves. These hot, fried, pork-studded puffs satisfied both our cure-iosity and our palates.
It was a cold night, so the lack of a curtain to contain the door drafts made us keep our jackets at hand, but we appreciated the streamlined design of this corner business.
Chef Perello and her crew:
... have put together a restaurant with a welcoming vibe and excellent chow. This is the sort of restaurant that we love and we’ll be coming back to have more appetizers after dessert soon.
3870 17th St. (at Pond)
San Francisco, CA