4800 Third Street, SF, CA 94124 | 415.420.2486 | website
I went with my friend DebbieG on an excursion to sample the creative cuisine of Chef Eskender Aseged at his restaurant Radio Africa and Kitchen in the Bayview district. Chef Aseged, who is Ethiopian by birth, is known for creating an intoxicating melange of Mediterranean and North African flavors made with fine local ingredients. His CV in the Bay Area includes working with food icons Jeremiah Tower, Joyce Goldstein, Nancy Oaks, Daniel Peterson and Daniel Humm. The food brilliance around him led him to explore different food preparations of his own. Radio Africa & Kitchen began as a series of dinner parties in his backyard, then he started one of the first pop-up traveling restaurants in 2004 where he collaborated with cafes to use their facilities when they were closed. Last year, he opened Radio Africa in the Bayview district in San Francisco, as one of a handful of city-supported restaurants aimed at drawing people into an area that has a reputation as being one of the roughest neighborhoods in the city which most people tend to avoid. We made early reservations and found parking on the same block, then we followed a couple of beat cops towards our destination. We walked into the bright airy interior and were welcomed with an amazing aroma of mushrooms and delicious spices at work.
The restaurant has long communal tables in the center of the dining area, but we scored a nice table by the window, which I had requested because of the lighting of course. This proved to be a distraction during our meal as youngsters walking by would make faces at us through the window and we frequently saw beat cops walk past.
I relaxed with a glass of South African white wine and since DebbieG had purchased a Gilt City deal for a 5 course tasting menu for 2, we kicked back and waited for our food to arrive. I sniffed excitedly at the beautiful blue bowl filled with Mushroom and barley wot soup topped with a swirl of spicy harissa crème fraîche ($6). Yes, the delicious smelling mushrooms! It was fragrant and each bite was a pleasure, full of clean pure flavor.
Next came a bowl filled with a warm dip made from smoked trout and dungeness crab served with a piquant red cabbage salad and drizzled with harissa crème fraîche ($8). It was rich and savory, so delicious spread onto the tender slices of rustic crusty bread.
The tasting Menu was served family style for us to share on a long white platter.
Roasted leg of lamb with couscous and chard was sprinkled with a mesmerizing and exotic spice mixture. Each bite was tender and flavorful and the fluffy grains of couscous were infused with the delicious juices.
Wild Barramundi with wild rice, broccoli and olives. The fish was tender and juicy with perfectly crispy skin and topped with a tantalizingly spicy relish
There followed carrots with turmeric infused potatoes with the spicy harissa sauce, and a mound of glistening black lentils topped with crumbles of rich creamy goat cheese. The tiny black shape of the lentils resemble beluga caviar, the texture was firm and they tasted nutty and of the earth which went well with the rich bright flavors of the creamy goat cheese.
Dessert was Chocolate decadence with berries and hibiscus essence. A slice of rich chocolate cake, the berries were fresh and so good with the whipped cream.
Drama at the window, four or so officers escorted someone into the fire rescue truck right outside the restaurant and we walked past yet another pair of beat cops on our way back to the car. The police presence along Third Street was very obvious, which made us glad that the days are long and that Radio Africa now serves lunch. Because I’m going back with Mr. K who I’m quite sure will love the excellent flavors of Chef Aseged’s creative cuisine.