Traditional Swedish dishes interpreted with a fresh regional spin
On the Hagen ("pasture") or vegetarian section of the menu, burrata ($12) was pleasant, but its presentation was similar to countless burrata plates everywhere — heirloom tomato and greens. At least it wasn't beets, which are obvious, overdone burrata companions. Barely-there aquavit in the vinaigrette could have set it apart if it was kicked up a few intensity levels. I found a subtle smearing of beetroot under a salad ($14) piled with Jerusalem artichoke, watercress, hazelnuts, and thinly-shaved layers of Västerbotten cheese and black summer truffles more interesting. Equally intriguing were the potato dumpling kumla ($12), dense and doughy dumplings in brown butter sauce that were savory with onion ragout and, once again, lingonberries.
Desserts ($8) are certainly pleasing — particularly the rhubarb crumble pie — but none left a major impression. Cocktails ($11) thankfully utilize Scandinavian spirits like vodka and genever (Dutch gin, often aged in wood so as akin to whiskey as gin.) Spirit-cocktail aficionados may crave more depth in a menu that leans toward sweet, subtle, and light cocktails. The Midsommar is promising: Pernod absinthe that delivers herbaceous notes to a Flor de Cana light rum, lime, and dill simple syrup. It was garden-fresh, a fine companion to seafood.
An all-Scandinavian beer list is spot-on, with pours like HaandBryggeriet Norwegian harvest ale ($14) or cheaper, refreshing Einstock Icelandic white and pale ales ($6 each.)
Pläj is a welcome newcomer to the SF dining scene -- one I hope thrives as it dares to bring what we lack. What a delight it would be to form a "best of" list of Scandinavian eateries here, as we can with so many cuisines.
333 Fulton, SF
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