Nopa - Page 2

Emerging from an avalanche of early acclaim to be a genuinely winning restaurant
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Photo by Rory McNamara

And flatbread ($14) resembles a little square pizza, topped perhaps with slivers of red onion, white cheese, and prosciutto.

We were particularly impressed with the pork chop ($22), which distinguished itself through a tender juiciness that could not entirely be attributed to gentle cooking. (The meat was done to about medium, I would say, with a broad hint of pinkness in the middle). Our server confirmed that the pork had indeed been brined for several hours in brown sugar; it ended up being plated on a bed of soft polenta dotted with roasted root vegetables and ribbons of fried taro root.

Quite as good in its own way was a braised lamb shank ($25) — still on the bone, Neanderthal-style — nested in a salad of toasted farro grains, shreds of chanterelle mushrooms (a pretty yellow-orange, though not as spectacularly colored as the examples I saw at a Helsinki farmers market in August), and a pile of mustard greens. There are only so many ways to describe meat so tender that it falls away from the bone at the touch of a fork or knife, and I have not found a new way. But this was meat of that sort.

The hamburger ($12), made from grass-fed beef, is simply sublime, one of the best I have ever tasted in the city or anywhere. It's presented on a toasted bun of discreet robustness — not a fancy, fluffy focaccia but not a skinny hack job, either. Even the sometime vegetarian was impressed by the burger's rosy juiciness, or perhaps he was faintly disappointed by his tagine ($17), a medley of root vegetables (mostly parsnips and turnips) gussied up with lemon yogurt. He described the tagine as "good," which would have been fine if everything else hadn't been excellent.

Among the desserts, the primus inter pares is the sopapillas ($8), an array of pastry pillows, deep-fried, dusted with sugar, and ready to be doused with burnt-orange caramel sauce. You pour that out yourself from a ceramic flask, no sweat.

NOPA

Dinner: nightly, 6 p.m.–1 a.m.

560 Divisadero, SF

(415) 864-8643

www.nopasf.com

Full bar

AE/MC/V

Noisy but bearable

Wheelchair accessible

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