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AL's Place

1499 Valencia St. (26th St.) Send to Phone
Elevated garden fare with a side of (beef) cheek, courtesy of Aaron London.

Dinner Wed.-Sun.

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AL's Place, San Francisco, CA

AL's Place Restaurant Review

: Unpretentious bones, a racy pop-track and an air of unabashed enthusiasm hint at a team not taking themselves too seriously. Chef Aaron London’s (Ubuntu) invitation to eat an herbaceous, pistachio crusted salad of baby greens with our hands was our cue to follow suit. An inventive menu exploits the garden, and while we sampled nary a single meat dish --- a small few live down-menu as “sides” --- we left sated. Painstakingly prepared spices conjure the Mediterranean in such deceptively simple starters as vadouvan-spackled almonds, Castelvetrano olives bathed in ras el hanout, and chickpea in romesco. A colorful medley of cured trout, crisp skins and potato was dressed with smashed turnip and bagna càuda. While the grits paired with pickled beet and broccoli was pleasingly familiar, we will return for the savory pesto of turnip and kale stem with fish fumet that drenches campanelle. Regrettably, a finish of peanut butter ice cream over warm brownie wanted for greater composure in its peanut-caramel core. The wine list is solid, but we found far more pleasure in the half-dozen vermouth- and sherry-driven cocktails named after characters from Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. The chef’s tasting menu offers no particular value, but is an apt emissary for the uninitiated.
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