Melissa Perello's restaurant revels in smoky, earthy effects while raising simplicity to high art
The panisses ($6.50) were extraordinary, and only in part because you rarely find them offered. They are a slight pain to make, but Frances' were beautifully formed and expertly fried to produce a good knobbly crust around a creamy interior. These, too, like the beignets, needed no dipping condiment, but the condiment presented with them, an aioli of calabrese peppers, was good enough (with a definite garlic-acid kick) to be taken straight up. This I did, discreetly I hope, with a spoon. And if the duck leg ($23), braised in red wine and served atop a medley of butter beans, escarole, and pitted Sicilian olives, seemed slightly less extraordinary — less smokin' — that was only because there was more of it.
Dinner: Sun., Tues.–Thurs., 5–10 p.m.;
Fri.–Sat., 5–10:30 p.m.
3870 17th St., SF
Wine and beer