A curried vegetable potpie ($16) was a shade sweet for my taste, though the pastry itself, with its Shar-pei folds and Hershey's-kiss spire, was spectacular. The filling's sweetness was cut a bit by the sharp salad of peppercress and halved cherry tomatoes on the side.
Better-balanced was a portobello mushroom "scaloppine" ($16). The cap of the fungus had been coated with rice flour, which turned an appealing crunchy gold in the sauté pan. The heat released the mushroom's juices, as if it were a piece of steak. The cap was presented as a fan of slices, and the juices mixed with the chili-lime butter to make a slightly thickened sauce. The rest of the story was a small hedge of grilled Chinese broccoli and a neat square of polenta, wearing a strip of nori like a prize ribbon.
No matter what hoops a kitchen has set itself to jump through, there are certain dishes that don't need to be tinkered with, and one is crème brûlée ($7). But Prana tinkered, on a theme of bananas, and this turned out to mean not a banana-flavored custard but three thin strips of banana laid over the custard in lieu of the standard cap of caramelized sugar. Taste: good, but the banana strips were tough and unwieldy. More texturally pleasing was a shortbread tart ($8) filled with lemon curd and topped with a royal flush of ripe mango slices. They were soft, and soft was good. Now about the music ...
Dinner: Tues.Fri., 5:3010 p.m.
Sat., 510 p.m.
Lunch: Tues.Sat., 11 a.m.3 p.m.
540 Howard, SF
(415) 978-9942, ext. 319