Dungeness crab is presumptively local, as is petrale sole (roasted whole here), but the salmon was from Australasia, and the lobster (in a pot pie and on a roll) couldn't have been local. When in doubt: throw caution to the wind. While I generally steer clear of cioppino, I was drawn to the server's description of a special, cacciucco ($24), which means "little pond" in Italian. The dish (whose roots are traceable to the Tuscan port city of Livorno) turned out to be something like bouillabaise, a mix of salmon and cod cubes, shrimp, and mussels (of astounding, pillow-like plumpness) in a simple broth of white wine, garlic, and tomato paste that somehow managed to be smoky. The smokiness might have come from the chunks of grilled bread adrift like charred ice floes in the middle of the bowl.
Landlubbers turn up everywhere, even at seafood houses, and at Anchor and Hope they are not slighted. The kitchen even turns out a creditable cassoulet ($24) with duck confit, duck sausage, and pomegranate seeds scattered over the top like rubies. The pomegranate seeds did not sit well with the orderer of the cassoulet, a connoisseur of sorts, but I found they brought not only visual interest but a subtle fruity sharpness that helped cut the fat richness of the meat.
The dessert menu is terse, and the connoisseur thought the prices, which mainly hover between $8 and $9, were moderate. This is possible; today's real cash cow is the $12 cocktail, which may have relieved some pressure on dessert prices. A rectangle of dense chocolate blackout cake ($8.50) was tinctured with espresso and adorned with a caramel-like brittle of sea salt and pistachio an elegant and composed treat and plenty for three, if rather modest in the architectural flourishes that seem to define so many of today's desserts. Still: in modesty, hope. Could this be an aegis for a new year, newer than most?
ANCHOR AND HOPE
Dinner: Sun. Wed., 5:3010 p.m.; Thurs.Sat., 5:3011 p.m.
Lunch: Mon.Fri., 11:30 a.m.2:30 p.m.
83 Minna, SF
Beer and wine
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