870 17th Street SF, CA 94114 | 415.621.3870 | website
hours: Sun – Thurs 5:00 – 10:00 | Fri, Sat 5:00 – 10:30
I met my friends Libby and Chris for dinner at Melissa Perello’s restaurant Frances in the Castro, which has been on my list for a long, long time. In fact, it’s already been 5 years since Mr. K and I sampled chef Melissa Perello’s cuisine at her Monday night supper popups at Sebo in Hayes Valley! Well, I certainly took my time getting over here, but truth be told, I’m glad that things have settled down and you no longer have to wait two months to get reservations. That’s how crazy it was when they first opened. The cozy restaurant was full when we dined and I read that they are doing well enough that the chef is thinking of opening a second location. It’s conveniently located on a quiet residential street a couple of blocks from Castro street and the long narrow restaurant is lined with tables and was quietly abuzz with a friendly energy when I walked in.
I have to point out this very cool option if you choose the house wine, which Sommelier Paul Einbund, formerly of Coi restaurant, currently blends with the CORE Wine Company and brings in by the barrel, decanting them into carafes marked with two-ounce measures (he charges $1.50 an ounce). Choose red or white and a carafe will be set down at your table. Etched on the glass are lines measuring every 2 ounces. You pour as much as you want and at the end of the night, your wine tab is calculated based on how much you’ve drunk.
The dishes were all served in bowls by Akiko’s Pottery in Seattle, rustic and elegant at the same time. They emphasized the beauty of each dish. Grilled Beet & Apple Salad ($7) – served with rich burrata, fresh chives, and toasted pistachio nuts.
I loved the Charred Baby Turnips, Toasted Farro, Salsa Verde ($8), it was simple and so packed with flavor. The tender turnips were so expertly burnt!
We split one entree, Risotto ‘Nero’ – which is velvety risotto that gets its color from squid ink topped with Sauteed Dungeness Crab, Celery Root, Meyer Lemon ($22). This was rich and satisfying.
We shared the Lumberjack Cake ($8) made with winter fruits, coconut, medjool date, and served with a scoop of muscovado ice cream ($8). The cake is served warm with a dusting of powdered sugar, it was like sticky toffee pudding, really dense and so good with the ice cream.
I really enjoyed the meal, the cozy proximity of the tables adds a bit of conviviality and we all unabashedly compared plates. I only wish that I lived closer because I would definitely be a regular diner if not for the bridge-tunnel-muni schlep involved…