Cassis - Page 2

Nice guys finish first
|
(0)
Photo by Rory McNamara

It had been fried to toughness rather than crunchiness, could not be cut, and was generally an inconvenience. Otherwise, the kitchen didn't miss a step; the cooking is a series of gentle euphonies, polished versions of bistro favorites. (There is a real difference in France between a bistro and a restaurant, and les frères Meloni calling their place a restaurant isn't a casual choice.)

Duck confit ($22.50) is a rustic staple on many a bistro menu, but here the leg (good crispy skin!) was accompanied by a boneless half breast grilled to a gratifyingly steaklike medium rare. Lending the plate architectural interest and style: a cylinder of gratin potatoes, looking like a pillbox.

Potatoes — fingerlings — got a more natural treatment with the roasted monkfish ($23). They were simply steamed, halved, and thrown into a peppercorn sauce, velvety but with sharp edges. Lying at the edge of the sauce pool was a bundle of pencil-thin asparagus (too early to be local, I'm afraid), baby pattypan squash in green and yellow, and a fine dice of tomato. I would give this combination no better than a C for seasonality but an A for color and texture.

Even the small dishes are memorable. You hardly ever see panisses ($4.25) — the chickpea fries of Provence — anywhere, but Cassis's are excellent: crisp outside, creamy within, and presented in a geometric stack. And spinach ($5), seared with garlic and shallots, unfurls on a long platter like a length of knotty, kelp-swaddled rope recovered from a long-sunken ship.

Cassis doesn't seem to have generated the buzz of its most recent predecessors, and maybe this offers us a clue to its prospects. Although it's a nice destination, it's not a destination restaurant but a neighborhood one, and the neighbors, having reclaimed the space after a long struggle, seem to be pleased. Everybody likes a new chapter.

CASSIS

Tues.–Thurs. and Sun., 5:30–10 p.m.; Fri.–Sat., 5:30–11 p.m.

2101 Sutter, SF

(415) 440-4500

www.restaurantcassis.com

Full bar

AE/DISC/MC/V

Moderately noisy

Wheelchair accessible

Also from this author

  • The last supper

    Food writer Paul Reidinger bids farewell after more than a decade covering the San Francisco food scene

  • Radish

    Staging well-crafted feats of new all-American, neatly tucked away from the Valencia Street h-words

  • Boxing Room

    A warm Hayes Valley spot that punches up the Cajun trend with lagniappe, mirilton, and po'boys