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Friday, March 22, 2013

Radius Cafe

As a very special birthday (and Happy Friday) treat, I took J to Radius Cafe for dinner. The combination of great beer, delicious California cuisine, and cozy rustic-minimalist decor made for a really good time all around. Here goes, but remember: you won't want to continue reading on an empty stomach. Highlights included:

-roasted bone marrow
-pork chop
-lemon curd dessert

Little Gems Salad, one of those things California does so well. This version was comprised of lettuce hearts, fresh with just a hint of bitterness. Grated lemon peel atop the croutons made for a zesty, unexpected flavor, and also a very beautiful garnish.

Carrot Soup, another burst of bright spring flavors. The addition of paper thin slices of toybox carrots added an unexpected textural element. Delicious.

And on an unusually sunny evening, ice cold beer was in order. J ordered Saison, so I followed suit. Served in frozen glasses, this bitter beer was the perfect complement to the rich fare we ordered.

Bone marrow, one of the best versions in San Francisco! If you're a fan of roasted bone marrow, I urge you to get to Radius as soon as humanly possible. Their portions are generous (the bones they use are huge!), they're cooked to a perfectly spreadable consistency, and then topped with fine bread crumbs and an intoxicating herb mix. Buttery croutons and confit garlic round out this simply superb dish.

 Roasted pork chops with butter beans: wow! I'm not one to order a pork chop (except at Zuni Cafe), but this impressed me bite after bite. Not only was this generously sized pork chop perfectly cooked, it came with truly buttery butter beans, slow-cooked in a white chocolate gastrique. And no, the white chocolate was not at all sweet. It just had a creaminess I couldn't quite place, like a cream sauce without the dairy flavor.

Fried chicken. I'd heard a lot about Radius's famous fried chicken, but if I had to pick a least favorite this would be it. The chicken was over-brined, and the crust was a little lukewarm. The accompanying brussels sprouts were delicious, but on the whole this was a miss for me. Luckily, it was the only mediocre dish.

Lemon Curd Tart: right up there with Tartine's lemon tart in quality, with fluffy meringue garnishes and a crunchy shortbread crust. This is the kind of brightly tart dessert I can eat entirely too much of. They sell a simplified version in the adjoining Radius Cafe; I think I'll be back next week for a to go box.

Finally, a vanilla olive oil milkshake, with two chocolate chip cookies. While this was not a revelation, it was a wonderful finish to our incredible meal. Thoughtfully crafted recipes, fresh spring ingredients, generous portions, and almost-perfect execution. When compared with our experience at nearby AQ, Radius won by a long shot. We'll certainly be back again, for lunch and for dinner!

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