Time for another little break from Miami food talk to discuss the insanely good meal I had last night right here in SF... in my own 'hood no less! Okay, well it did take us 15 minutes to walk there, but once we got inside A16 we realized we would have come from much further. We're not the only ones either! This restaurant has been getting praised left and right lately, with chef Nate Appleman even winning the Rising Star Chef award from the James Beard Foundation. That's the Oscar of the food world, and it shows. Our food was outstanding, our service flawless, and the ambiance... well, it's still the Marina, but it was nice. :)
We were seated in the back and had the most knowledgeable server. She used to be vegan and knew everything they could make vegan for me - lots of choices. First up? We shared the inherently vegan romaine and chicory salad and the arugula, nectarine and fennel salad with walnuts (sans ricotta).
Both were very tasty but certainly not the stars of the show. Kudos to the chefs for giving the arugula salad a touch more salt to compensate for the lack of cheese. At least I hope that's what (s)he did, or else the real deal would have been way too salty. In any event, the nectarines were perfection. That, by the way, is in keeping with the seasonal, local, and organic approach of A16 - something you don't have to be a vegan to appreciate.
Next up I had one of the best pizzas I've ever eaten. Chewy dough, wood-fired, with a simple marinara sauce and topped with fresh, peppery, arugula. It was served with an adorable container of chili oil which conveyed an innocence that didn't exist within - this s@&* is hot! Deliciously warming as it was, I couldn't use too much of it. Plus, I was really digging the simple flavors of the pizza on its own. The crust dipped in the table's olive oil (comes, along with bread, as soon as you order) is heaven.
Even though it's not vegan, I had to show you my husband's beautiful gnocchi. If only the gnocchi themselves hadn't been made with ricotta this dish would have been completely cruelty-free. Husband claims it was still delicious. All I know is it was very pretty.
Last, but oh-my-god not least, we had a side of cannellini beans. These were not just any beans though. Creamy, savory, and downright decadent, these bread-crumb topped legumes just about stole the show. Amazing how something so simple could be so melt-in-your-mouth marvelous. Order them when you go. Trust me.
We'll definitely be back to A16, as it totally lives up to the hype. There's even some appeal to going sans reservation and waiting for a spot at the bar to open up as it seemed pretty fun up there when we were whisked past. Either way, if you're up for a superb dining experince (with or without 'others'), it's a great place to head.