Frisee

Fresh food, fab service
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REVIEW When I visited Frisée — the Castro eatery that markets itself as a bastion of fast, healthy gourmet food — I expected lots of steamed vegetables, light fish entrees, and creatively flavored oil-free salad dressings. In short, I imagined "healthy" to mean "diet friendly," and I therefore imagined Frisée's offerings to be something like an upscale version of the Applebee's Weight Watchers menu. Luckily for my taste buds — though not necessarily my waistline — this was an erroneous assumption. What's healthy about Frisée's food is that it's fresh and well made, which sets it apart from other fast food places (you can get Frisée's entrees to go at lunchtime) but not so much from other gourmet eateries.

Which is not to say it doesn't hold its own against its gastronomic peers. Certain items on the menu are truly remarkable — notably anything with cream sauce, such as pasta dishes and special soups. And less exceptional items, like the tuna tartare, are still quite good. The space is surprisingly charming, managing to balance large street-facing windows and a to-go counter — both of which could seem cold or too casual — with intimate, sumptuous seating beneath a red leather canopy that's something like the interior of a luxury jet.

But the very best thing Frisée has going for it is its service, which is friendly, professional, and helpful. In fact, my waiter for my recent visit, Chad, was undoubtedly the best who's ever served me — helpful, cheerful, charming, and attentive without being overbearing. He seemed to know what I needed before I did and went out of his way to accommodate my special needs (e.g., a vegetarian companion, a midmeal cigarette break). I'd return to Frisée just for Chad. After all, isn't good service also part of a healthy diet?

FRISÉE Mon.–Fri., 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 5:30–10 p.m.; Sat. 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m. and 5:30–10 p.m.; Sun., 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m. and 5:30–9 p.m. 2367 Market, SF. (415) 558-1616, www.friseerestaurant.com

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