Cassis - Page 2

Nice guys finish first
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.


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

2101 Sutter, SF

(415) 440-4500

Full bar


Moderately noisy

Wheelchair accessible

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