Squash blossoms ($14), icons of summer, are stuffed with goat cheese and basil, tempura-battered into flute shapes, deep-fried, and presented on mixed greens with a pool of soffrito and cherry tomatoes.
Even more deeply imbued with the essence of summer, if that's possible, is an heirloom tomato risotto ($13 for a half portion), intense with tomatoey-ness despite its golden color and enriched with plenty of parmesan cheese. The dish is like a distant, aristocratic relation of mac and cheese, with the differences as apparent as the familial similarities. We caught no plebeian echo, on the other hand, in the crisped striped sea bass ($17 for a half portion). The small chunk of filet was indeed well crisped, the better to stand up to a cap of peperonata and a few coins of fennel root (nature's little breath mint) braised with leek and pancetta.
The half-sizing joyride ends abruptly at the dessert border. But this poses no hardship, because people seem routinely to share desserts in a way they do not always share savory courses. It helps that Hawthorne Lane's desserts are big and complex; we saw a trio of the seasonal sorbets — spooned cornucopia-style into crisp fruit cups — arriving at the next table and silently wished that couple luck for the long march. For us, the matter at hand was the fetchingly named peach buckle ($9.50), a kind of stone fruit coffee cake with slices of Frog Hollow peach atop an almond streusel and cinnamon meal baked over everything, like stucco. We buckled down and demolished it. SFBG
Lunch: Mon.–Fri., 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
Dinner: Sun.–Thurs., 5:30–9 p.m.; Fri.–Sat., 5:30–10 p.m.
22 Hawthorne, SF
Pleasant noise level