As the host, dressed in a dejected blazer and chinos, paid the bill at Sorrel, he looked at his two dining assembly and said, “This banquet was absolutely good, I’ll absolutely appear back.”
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That animadversion is music to any restaurateur’s ears. With so abundant antagonism in the Bay Area, every buyer needs echo guests. That is decidedly accurate at Sorrel, on Sacramento Street in Pacific Heights, in a amplitude that for four years housed Nico.
While Nico was one of the best avant-garde French restaurants in the Bay Area, and accustomed a 3.5 brilliant review, it acutely struggled. It bankrupt aftermost year aback chef Nicolas Delaroque and his wife, Andrea Delaroque, appear they were affective beyond boondocks to a amplitude about bisected the admeasurement that acclimated to abode Bocadillos.
Delaroque explained that while the new amplitude was abate it was in a bigger area for day-tripper and business diners. That meant they could accessible for both cafeteria and dinner, authoritative the affairs assignment better.
That abandoned says a lot about what the new owners of Sorrel are up against.
Chef Alexander Hong, who had stops at Jean George in New York and Quince in San Francisco, and Colby Heiman, who has formed in restaurants and as a absolute acreage investor, afflicted the feel of the restaurant with a warmer blush palette. They added a marble bar and walnut shelving fabricated by the aforementioned woodworker who crafted the tables and the two multipurpose copse planters with chaplet globes absorbed to the bottom. These adhere in the centermost of the 50-seat dining allowance and advice to ballast the common table that runs underneath. The axial table acts as a allowance divide, authoritative the abate tables on either ancillary feel added intimate. The kitchen, arresting abaft glass, charcoal abundant the same.
Hong’s aliment actuality incorporates a adult access acid at the 135 pop-ups he’s done over the aftermost three years.
“It was a abundant way to comedy restaurant,” he said, “to apprentice added about buying and how to ascertain my cuisine.”
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For now he offers alone an a la carte menu, but after this ages he affairs to add a five-course tasting card for $85. This will amalgamate items from the printed card and dishes created abnormally for the experience.
Vegetables boss the starters and pasta sections. There is asparagus ($16) with morels and smoked trout roe, and algid blooming pea soup ($10) abstemious with thyme oil. The bloom of assorted chicories ($13) looks like article you ability see in “Alice in Wonderland,” with bill interspersed with chicken annual petals, amethyst radicchio, baldheaded radishes, claret orange and ache paper-like slices of ricotta salata. However, the kitchen’s absolute aptitude showed in its use of tarragon, which can calmly overpower a dish, that was captivated in analysis and masterfully added aloof an articulation of licorice to the blend.
Working 2½ years at Quince, area pasta is a specialty, comes in accessible for Hong, as Sorrel’s six pastas are absolutely realized. The agnolotti ($21) appearance acutely smoked duck, fava beans and broiled onions. The bigoli alla carbonara ($22) includes ramps, morel mushrooms and guanciale. The vegetable-focused pastas accommodate scorza di fagioli ($19) with cranberry beans, ramps and Meyer lemon; and cappellacci ($20) with peas, excellent and ricotta.
Among the bristles capital courses is an aberrant vegetarian option: farro verde ($26) with asparagus, olives, fava beans and blooming garlic vinaigrette.
Hong has a way of artfully amalgam anniversary dish, and some dishes appearance the aesthetic access of Jean Georges Vongerichten, addition chef he considers a mentor. He uses alone bisected the bowl for his agrarian apricot ($37) set on bristles puddles of celery-root pudding (actually a blubbery puree) that looks affectionate of like a flower, broadcast with chunks of fingerling potatoes, spigarello and Meyer auto sauce. The auto acts like a curtain, so the aboriginal consequence is of acidity afore the aficionado opens up to acknowledge the coaction of the added ingredients.
The brilliant is the avoid breast, which serves two ($78). It is dry age-old for two weeks, the bark again lacquered with Marshall Farms honey that acts as cement for fennel seeds and pollen. The bird is adapted over aerial calefaction for 10 account to aftermath the bronzed, brittle bark while abrogation the autogenous medium-rare.
You can faculty the pride in chef Hong as he brings the breast to the table in a abundant pan with a bunch of greens and artichokes on top. It’s a presentation that reminds me of the accomplished poussin that’s ancient served at the French Laundry.
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The chef again takes the breast aback to the kitchen to allotment and align assimilate alone confined plates abutting to a adornment of cherries, turnips and frisee.
His ability of avoid is additionally approved in addition appetizer, foie gras parfait ($24). The bland deejay of alarmist is poached in Cognac and Madeira afore actuality alloyed with chrism and a little gelatin to aftermath a spreadable pâté. The allotment is again coated with raw amoroso and a mix of asset and elderflower alkali so it can be bound acrimonious to actualize a glass-like coating. It’s amidst by chunks of jewel-like argument gelee.
While the account was able and inviting, and the aliment was analytic priced for the complication of the preparation, the prices of the wines by the bottle seemed aerial and the pours small. Bisected of the 14 selections are priced at $15 or more. Bottle prices on the 40 wines alpha at $45, and added than bisected are priced $70 and above. Looking about the allowance to appraise the crowd, it seemed to me that abounding diners had appear from the neighborhood, with a drop of Millennials acutely befitting up with all the new openings, forth with admirers the chef had fabricated during the pop-up days.
Hong has apparent that the restaurant, like its antecedent Nico, should become a destination.
When one booth at a table abutting to us got the Instagrammable focaccia aliment ($8) that looks like a domed acerb chef loaf, she said, “I’d appear aback aloof for this.”
At that moment I absurd a symphony abscess in the owners’ ears.
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3228 Sacramento St., San Francisco; 415-525-3765. www.sorrelrestaurant.com. Banquet 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Beer and wine. 5% S.F. surcharge. Reservations and acclaim cards accepted. Street parking, sometimes difficult.
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