As someone who is wary of the usual pairings made between fruit and flesh, sweet and savory (pork with apples or cherries comes instantly to mind), I found this combination to be winsome and, in my experience, unique.
Well, semi-unique, since the sauce accompanying the black and white tuna ($24), also featured a cunning deployment of cinnamon, a supple and sublime spice we occidentals tend to underuse. Here the cinnamon was added to a tomato coulis, with the result being a distant relative of barbecue sauce. The fish itself, meanwhile, was sprinkled with black sesame seeds, seared to order, and presented on a bed of saffron rice.
So far, so good with these fusion dishes. The kitchen even served the duck with a pine-nut-and-parsley couscous, to distinguish it from the saffron rice. But both plates were piled high on one side with the same, not particularly interesting, medley of sautéed vegetables, mostly green and yellow summer squash, carrot tabs, and shreds of red cabbage. Of course these are all estimable and colorful foodstuffs; they are good for us and even, to a degree, seasonal. But they also suggest a kind of mass production that's not quite consistent with the high ambition of turning out distinctive food, plate by plate. It's especially jarring when the stars of each plate are so distinctive; it's as if cheap tires have been fitted to a Lamborghini.
Is this disjunction a lingering ghost of Pasha? We attempted an exorcism by inquiring about dessert but were told our choices were limited to baklava and coffee. I like baklava well enough, but because it's suffered overexposure on these hither shores like tiramisù and drifted in the direction of cliché, I almost never order it and didn't here. Our knowledgeable and radiant server quietly supported us in this choice. She and her troupe, in fact, were altogether cosseting. *
COSSU RESTAURANT, BAR, AND LOUNGE
Tues.Sun., 6 p.m. to closing
1516 Broadway, SF