Chef-owner Aaron London’s characteristic of Al’s Menu is an inventive approach to seafood and vegetables. It is what it is- a Michelin starred restaurant nested at a snubbed corner of Valencia St & 25th. This New American, seafood, vegetarian restaurant was Bon Appetit’s 2015 Best New Restaurant in the US. London’s 46-seat restaurant emerges and feeds the San Franciscans at its finest inventive menu. The city’s latest hot spot – our reservations took almost a year. Now that they have expanded the patio seating, more chances of getting a table on a weeknight. Tidbit- 5:45 pm is usually open on weeknights. Walk-ins are welcome if you’re willing to wait, the restaurant reserves few tables for walk-ins.
The Chef-Owner Aaron London
It’s typical to see London running the kitchen checking & double-checking the plating of each and every dish of the night. London is an inked,man-bunned chef whose past was a 14-year-old that lived under house arrest. Being a troubled teenager, he fed his probation officers with his home-made cakes.
And his Story begins….with the world-weariness his mindset for cooking emerged. Chef London absorbed and breathed the “French Laundry Cookbook”. Thomas Keller’s obsession with details and systems inspired him to enroll at the Culinary Institute of America- New York. London started Al’s Place out in comparison to an Indie budgeted film. Most of the restaurant’s design and architecture are DIY and some SBA Loans. Today, this Santorini inspired I would say restaurant designed with bright blue exterior & colorful interior tiles- stand amongst the Top Restaurants & Chefs in San Francisco- Heads up- London being a mixologist, he is currently looking for a space around Mission- an innovative Mission Bar project.
The Façade of Menu: we decided on the Chef Special which comprises of 10 plates. Chef Aaron London picked our plates of the night. One or two words from my palate – ecstatic, high-fashion presentations on the plate with colorful veggies that are handpicked and grown by a local farm and some at his basement. That’s a San Francisco kinda thing!
Signature Dish: French Fries served with smoked apple sauce with smoked avocado and crumbled pistachios The potatoes are brined for 4 days in 68-degree water that has been inoculated with salt and cabbage leaves to accelerate fermentation. They’re fried for about 5 minutes at 325 degrees in rice bran oil. When an order comes in, they are fried again at 375 degrees for exactly 1 minute. Slightly pickled, creamy in the middle crunchy on the outside. (Source: BonAppetit.com) Cost? Less than $10!
French Fries ~ Chickpeas a la catalan, sauce romesco ~ vadouvan almonds
blistered squash,burrata, hummus,pickled kohlrabi,apricot. An attractive and well-executed dish. Side note: Burrata was fresh and the creamiest I ever had.
Baby lettuces served on a crushed avocado
lightly cured trout, crispy potato, bashed turnips, bagna cauda
warm brownie ~ peanut butter ice cream