Browsing Tag:

prix fix

American Nouveau/ dinner/ San Francisco

Aster: It’s Magically Delicious

I generally stay away from anything that reminds me of “fusion”. An image of two foods singed together, unnaturally meshed, and creating a frankenstein dish makes me very uncomfortable. Why? Often times, I’ve actually pay a lot for this type of “cuisine” at restaurants and doesn’t taste good; it’s usually confusing and leaves my tastebuds in a disappointed state.

Aster seems to make the combination of Asian and Western come together seamlessly, like a perfect magic trick. They were awarded one Michelin star this year – which isn’t the end-all-be-all per se – but at the same time, it’s catching the eyes of some critics. With a four course menu at $59, it’s a reasonably affordable meal where you will encounter interesting textures and beautifully made dishes.

We started with house-made sourdough bread with butter. As someone who loves bread, this couldn’t be any better – the butter was creamy enough to stand up to a sourdough. At the same time, the bread wasn’t too sour and finished nicely. YUM.

The first dish was beets with pomegranate, pistachio, cultured cream and arugula. Beautiful? Yes. As delicious as it is pretty? Oh yes!

Soft-cooked egg with crispy potato, ikura, and bacon vinaigrette, everything melded together – with its various textures and flavors – to create an umami boost of flavor. Not only is it fun to have the ikura pop in your mouth, but the potato made it crunchy, while the egg bounded each ingredient altogether.

 

The pork shoulder was cooked for hours and assembled layer by layer, with a crispy layer of skin, to be surrounded by carrots and satsuma mandarins, and shiitake furikake. It was like a well-done magic trick. In this case I’m not sure how umami, fat, and citrus can be brought into one dish, but it DID happen…and tasted really good too.

Lastly, the pink lady apple with broiche, sunflower seed, and bay laurel was the perfect ending to the meal. It was the just the right amount of sweet (just from the apple), along with the crumble and seeds, you still get nice bite even though the apple is soft.

The menu changes with the seasons, so that just means another visit is necessary. I’m looking forward to seeing more of the “magic” that comes out of that restaurant. Hopefully more solid and interesting dishes to come!

Aster
1001 Guerrero St
San Francisco, CA 94110
Opentable

American Nouveau/ dinner/ San Francisco

Trestle: Affordable and Simplistic SF Dining

In the day and age of many choices, there’s beauty in simplicity. Trestle, which offers a three course menu for $35, creates an easy dining experience for its customers. They have an ever-changing menu that highlights and transforms traditional comfort foods with California’s fresh ingredients.

My recommendation is to go with a friend so you can try each dish from each course.

We had the Falafel Salad with crispy lavash, tsatziki, and mint (above) and the English Pea ‘Chowder’ with smoked salmon, melted leeks, mint, and potato (below) to start us offa. Both dishes were good, for different reasons: the falafels were nicely fried, and all the sauces and textures made it tasty and interesting to eat. The chowder was silky smooth, not heavy, and the smoked salmon melded nicely with the subtle flavor of leek – slightly sweet – with a hint of mint and onion.

They give you a choice for one addition to the menu – a pasta course – so we chose Ricotta Gnudi. The dish came with mushroom puree, pecorino, and breadcrumbs. The gnudi was soft, light, and evened out the flavors from the intense mushroom flavor and sharp pecorino.

The main courses were Crispy Skin Branzino and Sausage-Stuffed Roast Chicken. The branzino came with roasted cauliflower, charred spring onions, and salsa verde; the dish was light overall, with some cauliflower and onions to provide some sweetness and salsa verde to highlight fresh ingredients. As for the roast chicken with wild ‘dirty’ rice, braised greens, and chicken jus, the chicken was cooked perfectly – tender and juicy.

Lastly, dessert. Their Warm Chocolate Brownie was comfortingly delicious, and the Blackberry Hand Pie seemed like it was an after-thought. The brownie came with vanilla ice cream, salted caramel, and candied walnuts, which is an easy thumbs up (after all, who can say no to brownie a la mode?) The hand pies with lime sugar glaze, and black pepper cream seemed haphazardly placed together; I couldn’t taste black pepper in the cream, and was placed far away from the pie itself. It made me think, “are these two foods supposed to go together?” Whether the answer was yes or no, the hand pies didn’t seem to need the cream altogether.

Similarly to their sister restaurant Stones Throw (which is one of my favorite restaurants in SF), Trestle is a restaurant that reinvents comfort food whilst elevating California’s ingredients, all for a reasonable price. Definitely worthwhile to check out!

Trestle
531 Jackson St
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 772-0922
trestlesf.com

American Nouveau/ dinner/ Molecular Gastronomy/ nyc

wd~50: New Menu, New Tastes

For my birthday I was lucky enough to be taken to wd~50, a restaurant that has been on my to-eat list.  We all know about Wylie Dufresne and how he’s changed the food scene with molecular gastronomy earning himself Best Chef in NY for six years (James Beard Award).  Being that they recently changed their menu, I was lucky to taste their new dishes!

Sesame “bread” was provided for the table.  Surprisingly, this provided a great savory palette cleanser in between each course.

The Mackerel Nigiri with salsify, seaweed, and sesame started us off.  The mackerel was very fresh and smooth.  The rice was kind of warm when served, which caught me a bit off guard, but I enjoyed it as a first course.  Light and fresh.

Lobster roe served with charred lemon, green grape, and coriander-brown butter was enjoyable and all the flavors worked together.  The grape provided a nice sweetness to the dish, and charred lemon added a nice bit of texture.

This was one of the best dishes of the night – pho gras with foie gras, noodles, and mint leaves.  The fois gras melted into the broth, which was light and nicely salted.  The noodles seemed like it was cooked for slightly too long, but I really enjoyed the interpretation of pho.

Covered in carrots and “peas” (which is actually something else covered in pea powder) is amaro yolk with chicken confit.  The presentation was interesting but I personally was hoping the yolk would be runny and it wasn’t.

Another highlight of the meal was the veal briskey with za’atar, plum, and mustard.  The thinly sliced veal was nicely flavored with the sauce.  The plum slices added a nice texture to the veal and all the flavors blended well together.

Crab toast with saffron, kaffir-yogurt, and arare was pleasant and had a good amount of crab meat on it.

The turbot with black licorice-pil pil, fried green tomato, and fennel was nicely cooked though I mainly enjoyed the fried tomato. The turbot definitely had the texture on the raw side, but nothing wrong with that!

Lamb sweetbreads served with nasturtium-buttermilk, zucchini, and pistachio. For some, sweetbreads could be hard to stomach but this dish made it a lot easier.  I felt like the texture of the zucchini definitely helped and the sweetbread was flavored nicely.

Their root beer ribs with rye spaetzle and apricot was nicely cooked – tender and juicy paired with the apricot sauce helped make these ribs sweet.

I really enjoyed the palette cleanser – Jasmine, cucumber, honeydew, and chartreuse.  It totally did its job after going through all the savory dishes; it gave my senses a blast of refreshment!

The first dessert was yuzu milk ice with hazelnut, rhubarb, and basil.  What is milk ice?  I think it’s basically puffed up ice cream as you can see from the white sponge-like blob in the middle of the picture.  It didn’t have a sponge-like texture once I ate it, but it was more like it “melted” in my mouth.

This was one of the most impressive dishes of the night for me.  Their version of the s’mores with bitter cocoa, meringue, and black currant was delicious.  The “marshmallow” on top is actually marshmallow ice cream that’s in the shape of marshmallow!  GENIUS.  It was perfectly bitter and sweet, plus the marshmallow helped cut any intense chocolate-y goodness.

FINALLY, the last bite is the white chocolate covered with freeze-dried raspberries and gjetost in the center.  Delicious!

WD~50 was a great adventure into the world of molecular gastronomy.  Dishes were familiar enough for you to feel comfortable, but at the same time, each dish was innovative in the changing the familiar forms of the ingredients within the dish.  I really enjoyed my time there since the waitstaff were informative and casual, food was good and interesting, and I got a tour around the kitchen!

WD~50
50 Clinton Street, New York, NY
(212) 477-2900 ‎

Cuban/ dinner/ drinks/ nyc/ Seafood

Cienfuegos: A Rum Cocteleria Worth Visiting

What is there not to like about this place?  Tropical lounge decor, chill waitstaff, delicious food, and rum-based punches sets Cienfuegos up for success.  Try getting a table on Saturday night and you’ll inevitably wait 45 minutes so that you can experience Cuba’s “Pearl of the South”.  Luckily one of my friends mentioned that Tasting Table had a special deal with them where you can have a $50, three-course menu with drink pairings and dessert at Cienfuegos. Who can say no to that?

We start off with a Striped Bass Ceviche served with cucumber, pomegranate, avocado, and mint over chickpea fries. This dish was creamy but fairly light. I enjoyed the texture of the dish; the striped bass melded into the softness of the avocado and the chickpeas gave it a nice crunch. Drink pairing: Spring Refresher

The second course was Papa Rellena de Picadillo de Creme (meat stuffed with potatoes croquette) served with sofrito aioli. The outside was flaky and buttery while the inside was meaty and gave it that salty flavor. I definitely enjoyed this and had no trouble finishing it. Drink pairing: Alabazam Rum No. 2

Pictured above was the last course – seared pork belly with spicy black beans, crunchy tostones, and guava glaze. This was no surprise since Cubans do love their pork. It was very well done because the meat was moist, tender, and juicy. I had no problem gobbling it up. Drink pairing: Señor Dobbs

For dessert, we had their cocktail sorbet with wafers and blackberries. I’m not sure how much I tasted of any cocktail per se, but I definitely enjoyed the texture combination of the ingredients. The wafers provided that crunch that melted once it touched the cold sorbet and juice from the blackberries.

Cienfuegos
95 Avenue A (near 6th st.)
New York, NY 10009
(212) 614-6818