Cafe Kati - Page 2

A fusion-cuisine pioneer whose blend of French and Asian influences remain fresh
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Photo by Rory McNamara

The deft touch here is the pile of spicy Spanish fries, really a version of patatas bravas, the gently crispy quarters of waxy (in this case some kind of baby yellow) potato.

From steak and potatoes to fried chicken ($16.95) — in this case a Cornish game hen, given a Cajun-scented batter, then lightly fried and served with buttermilk mashed potatoes, a mop top of wilted pea tendrils, and a marvelous, bewitching gravy inflected with citrus. If there's a heaven, the home cooking there will include something like this.

Desserts are all $8.95 — a price point I would describe as neither high nor low — and sing in a more mainstream key. You might find a sundae, a flourless chocolate cake, a crisp, a butterscotch pudding. The last is presented in a parfait glass and consists of layerings of homemade butterscotch and whipped cream — like a sundae with no ice cream, or a planet (like Jupiter) with no definite surface. Butterscotch is basically caramel with vanilla, and Kati's version is barely sweet with a faint, keen edge of smoke and a rich color like that of tarnished gold. These are strong hints that the butterscotch has been made by a practiced hand, someone who isn't afraid to skate near the edge of burnt sugar and to give character to the result. (The big giveaway for commercial, mass-produced desserts is that they are predominantly, often overwhelmingly, sweet; they taste as if they were made from sugar and little else.)

Kati's wine list is substantial though not overwrought, with quite a few decent choices by the glass, and service tends toward flawlessness. As in many pint-sized restaurants, the door opens right into the dining room, which can be disconcerting, especially in the season of cold drafts. I mean wind, not beer.

CAFE KATI

Dinner: Tues.–Sat., 5:30–10 p.m.

1963 Sutter, SF

(415) 775-7313

www.cafekati.com

Beer and wine

AE/MC/V

Moderately noisy

Wheelchair accessible

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