The Moss Room - Page 2

Hidden beneath the new Academy of Sciences building, this California culinary oasis offers simplicity and sophistication
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Photo by Rory McNamara

Luckily, fate provided us a small bowl of sea salt.

Equally Kelleresque was a bowl of squid-ink spaghetti ($12) tossed with a meaty mix of squid and sun-dried tomatoes sharpened with chili flakes and what the menu called "herbs." This dish was visually striking, with the zinfandel-colored strings of pasta looking like a clump of kelp, and its flavors glowed with a steady dark heat.

I caught a milder wave of the same effect with the local albacore ($26), a pair of seared chunks looking like roulades embedded on a textured carpet of roasted eggplant shreds and tomato quarters, with a pale green purée of summer squash piped around the perimeter. Albacore is wildly underrated and is worth searching out.

As for salmon: I like it but don't love it, and when our server explained that the wild Alaskan version ($23) consisted not of a filet but of flaked flesh tossed with English-pea cavatelli and a north African blend of radish, mint, and preserved lemon, I silently cheered. Salmon can be overbearing and rich, but here the kitchen induced it to cooperate with its platemates.

Speaking of platemates: Greg's cookie plate ($9) offers a petit-fours-like array of tiny treats. It's ideal for sharing, and you get lots of bites with not much heft. For the heft-minded: a roasted-peach tart ($9), accompanied by a lump of crème fraîche custard and grainy peach sorbet. Close your eyes and think of the Stairmaster.

<\!s>Le boo-boo: In a recent piece about Bistro St. Germain (July 22) I described Paris' Faubourg St. Germain as being on the Right Bank of the Seine. Well, no, it's actually on the Left Bank. *

THE MOSS ROOM

Mon.–Tues., 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m.;

Wed.–Sun., 11 a.m.–10 p.m.

55 Music Concourse (in the California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park), SF

(415) 876-6121

www.themossroom.com

Wine and beer

Not noisy

AE/DC/DS/MC/V

Wheelchair accessible

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