Saturday, August 09, 2014


Aveline in San FranciscoFoodies in San Francisco, there is reason to rejoice! Aveline, which opened its doors in the Warwick Hotel in the theater district, is one of the best things that has happened to the dining scene in this city lately. Chef Casey Thompson's new restaurant is my top recommendation right now for those looking for a fancy dinner night.

The soft color palette of whites and greys, beautiful lighting fixtures and high quality furnishings all add up to an upscale and chic ambiance. The restaurant gave an impression of being warm and inviting as I entered;  this was further strengthened by my waiter who warmly greeted me and familiarized me with the menu with a smile and some small talk.

Aveline in San Francisco

The menu is interesting and also ambitious.  Casey Thompson's food is clearly inspired by French cuisine but with Californian sensibilities with a focus on the seasonal, fresh and local.  I read an article where she talked about how her two grandmothers, one of whom is French, were the inspiration behind this restaurant and her cooking.

Amuse Bouche at Aveline SF

They served me an amuse bouche that, for a change, got my taste-buds going.  If I remember correctly, it was some kind of tomato jelly and mint on a toast.

Crab Macarons at Aveline in San Francisco

My first course was the restaurant's signature dish, Crab Macarons.  People have been raving about it on Yelp! and I had to choose this one.  It was served to me in a box but there was no mistaking the aromas already wafting from the box - there was something savoury but equally delightful inside!

Crab Macarons at Aveline in San Francisco

The Crab Macarons looked lovely as I untied the string and unveiled the dish.   With something like this, your first thought is to wonder if this is mostly gimmick. You would be wrong!  This turned out to be one of the most creative and tasty crab dishes I have eaten.

Crab Macarons at Aveline in San Francisco

Crispy outer layers were filled with chunky, flavorful crabmeat with the most heavenly tastes and textures on the palate. What a wonderful creation! I completely loved it.

After that memorable dish right at the beginning, I was already wondering if my next course had any chance at topping that.  Turns out I had made a great selection again.  The Sea Bass was surprisingly good and was another memorable dish.

Sea Bass at Aveline in San Francisco

The presentation was elaborate: the fish was served over a lovely 'garden' of beans, herbs and flowers and the tomato 'tea' poured at the table.  Again, the dish was as satisfying on the palate as it was on the table.  The sea bass was soft and buttery with excellent complementary tastes and textures from the lava beans, bonito butter and tomato tea enhanced with the smoky earthiness of cuitlacoche.

Garlic Dessert at Aveline in San Francisco

The dessert came in two sections: Classic and For the Adventurous.  This is where I erred because I am such a sucker for culinary challenges.  I chose what seemed like the more exciting Garlic dessert which ended up being a little underwhelming - the tastes did not balance out for me.  Most visitors have raved about the 'Batter' dessert and that is what I intend to try the next time.

Overall this was a fantastic dinner! By the time I walked out of the restaurant, I was a fan of the chef.  While the prices here are quite steep even by fine-dining standards, the dinner easily exceeded my expectations.  Casey Thompson is clearly very talented and I expect will do very well in the days ahead.

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