Al’s Place, San Francisco, 3/4/17

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Exterior

Al’s Place is a hopping restauratn.   A good sized place, it has tightly packed tables in a hectic, noisy and rushed atmosphere.  We got there early and it was already full but it looked like they were trying to turn the tables 3 times in an evening. So don’t go for a lingering dining experience. The service is friendly and helpful but the entire staff seemed to share the room so no connection is made with any particular server. The food was fine but very variable in goodness. Plates are made to share and you can chose the ‘family style’ option where the chef picks a selection of plates from the first three sections of the menu and a dessert for your table to share.  

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Interior
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toward the entrance
Frankie shared the restaurant details
Frankie shared the restaurant details

 

With the family style option you can also add any of the sides, protein courses and also request something from the top that you want included in your menu.  This was the way we went but a problem early on was the tiny table and the large plates that come in a dizzyingly rapid pace.  The plates are attractive but it might make more sense to serve on  smaller plates with less decorative space so it doesn’t overwhelm the table and guest.

menu
menu
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drink menu

 

Our family style started with the Mushroom broth chawanmushi, fuji apple and pistachio. It was a warm cup of custard, tasty nuts and tart/sweet apple.  It was yummy fun.

mushroom broth chawanmushi, fuji apple, pistachio
mushroom broth chawanmushi, fuji apple, pistachio
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wine front
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wine back

 

The Vadouvan almonds were coated and covered with micro-greens.  They were quite nice.

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Vadouvan almonds
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Frankie got a drink off the side of the water bottle

 

Radish was included in the chef’s choices for  us but not on the menu. They were tiny and very fresh with a light dipping sauce.

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radish

 

The brined pickled french fries with smoked apple sauce were included on our menu at our request.  They were crispy but I didn’t find the sauce helped them at all.  They were fine but not as special as the description seemed to indicate.

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Brine pickled french fries with smoked apple sauce
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fries close
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smoked apple sauce close

 

Another off the menu item was the house cheddar cheese and creme fraiche whiz with brassicas (brussels leaves, smoked carrots).  It was very mild and sounded more interesting than it was.

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House cheddar cheese and cream fraiche whiz
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Frankie found a spot just her size

 

The lamb-bacon & pineapple yakitori with rosemary mayo was one of our side orders.  It was great. The seared bacon pieces were grilled on top of tasty, juicy pineapple.  It was a winner.

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Lamb-bacon & Pineapple yakitori, rosemary mayo
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closer
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other side
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There was barely room for Frankie on the table

 

The baby lettuces with herbed avocado and pistachio crumble was a nice selection of fresh greens on top of the avocado.

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Baby lettuces, herbed avocado, pistachio crumble
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closer
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another side
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Frankie found some reading material

 

The lightly cured trout with crispy potato, bashed turnips, walnuts, tartly pickled radish and bagna cauda.  The crisp pieces of skin on the top were a nice touch and the potatoes were particularly good, both complimenting the mild fish.

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Lightly cured trout, crispy potato, bashed turnips, bagna cauda
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closer
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Frankie checked out the coaster with the logo from the entance

 

The roasted beets were served with burrata, kraut mayo, borscht spiced seeds, and lavender apricot. The seeds added a fun crunch and the burrata was nicely creamy.

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roasted beets, burata, kraut mayo, borscht spiced seeds, lavender apricot
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closer
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from the top

 

The grits were served with goat’s milk curds, chimichurri, figs, fennel-chi, basil bud mushrooms and something tart.  The figs were nicely sweet with the grits being the dominant texture and fennel being a dominant flavor. It should have been tastier.

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grits, goat’s milk curds, chimichurri, figs, fennel-chi, basil bud mushrooms
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closer
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Frankie posed in the plant

 

Pork belly with galangal soda, turnip and peach-chi and roe was another addition to menu. It was quite tart and an exceptionally fatty piece of belly which had hardly any taste.  It was too tart for me to want to eat much of it.

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Pork belly, galangal soda, turnip and peach-chi, roe
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Frankie guarded the wine pour

 

The campanelle pasta was served with smoked fumet, grilled asparagus pesto, Meyer lemon and goat’s gouda. It was creamy and pretty good.

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Campanelle, smoked furnet, grilled asparagus pesto, goat’s gouda
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closer
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Frankie couldn’t choose

 

For dessert they served a warm chocolate brownie with peanut butter ice cream and “Payday” filling.  The filling was to mimic the taste of a Payday candy bar and indeed it did.  The ice cream was good but I liked the components better on their own rather than mixed together.IMG_8336

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warm brownie, PB ice cream, “payday” filling
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inside
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room stayed full
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peak in the kitchen
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Frankie found pussy willows!

 

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