Must order at Aziza?
I went last night with the SO, her mom and sister. First time there since Maldonado came over from Grand Cafe. Food is still very good, I thought the spreads were better than last time we went, the summer beans were great and the cocktails were fantastic. The octopus app was very good as well. The sauce that it comes with is sneaky delicious (the flavor is not at all what you'd expect when looking at it.)
The Aziza Couscous is still very good but no longer has the lamb sausage with it. The squab was outstanding and the beef dish was very good. The halibut was the weakest of the 4, a little bland but I didn't get to try any of the sides it came with.
I felt like the bastilla was different from last time, a little sweeter and I don't remember powdered sugar being on it last time around.
Service was a little spotty last night - it looked like we had only one server (but plenty of support staff) for our entire section. Plus the server mentioned he had just returned from vacation which might have explained his struggles in discussing some of the dishes.
Overall, I still love the place and look forward to visiting them again soon.
Trip report. I couldn't get the SO to sign on for the tasting menu (the pizza at Delfina's for lunch was too lovely to leave any behind, and he just wasn't hungry enough) so we sculpted our own tasting by sharing lots of different courses. We tried two of the salads, one of which was beet and avocado, one of which was watermelon with honey and parmiggiano shavings. Neither of them were special in any way, although both of them were tasty. My biggest complaint with the salads was that the melon and avocado were both left in large pieces (reminiscent of Marcel's watermelon "steak"), when both dishes would have benefited from the blending of ingredients that smaller pieces allows.
We had the spreads (with extra flatbread) which I adored. The yogurt-dill dip was especially nice: light and refreshing while still being more robust in flavor than the average yogurt dip. The breads, which come oiled and marked from the grill yet still quite soft, were heavenly.
As a main course, I had the couscous Aziza, which was wonderful. It comes with prawns (which i could have done without, as I'm not a huge prawn fan), chicken, lamb sausage, and braised lamb. The braised lamb was incredibly tender, although not very flavorful. The sausage on the other hand, was flavorful, but the texture was not great (a little bit rubbery). The vegetables were tender and, most importantly, the harissa was outstanding. Very flavorful without being too spicy to enjoy. Even though the individual components of the dish were only "good" the overall combination was fantastic.
We were also surprised by the wonderful cocktail and beer selection. I had a champagne-apricot cocktail that was very refreshing, and a lovely class of red wine (although the by-the-glass wine selection was quite limited). The SO had 2 rare, delicious beers, one an unfiltered wheat beer that I loved.
If I lived in SF, I would definitely be back. As a visitor with short trips, I'm not sure I will be able to pry the SO away from chinese or dimsum next time (it was a battle to get him in to aziza when we had to walk 3 blocks full of chinese restaurants from our car to the front door). Thanks to everyone who made recommendations.
I agree that the spreads and couscous are must orders.
Note that everyone a the table must participate in the tasting menu. Ordering a la carte is pretty comparable in price. Looking at the current menu you might consider ...
smoky eggplant, pomegranate-almond, yogurt-cucumber-dill, flatbread
herbs & citrus marinated olives
grilled flatbread with sumac
wild mushrooms in phyllo (if you don't order the basteeya)
wine forest's shiitake & king oyster, manouri cheese
county line harvest arugula
knoll farms fig, humboldt fog cheese, almonds, extra vecchio balsamic
northern halibut claypot
saffron broth, parslied little organic farm potatoes, green
seared hokkaido sea scallops
warm brentwood corn salad, beet reduction vinaigrette, marash pepper
grilled chicken, prawns, spicy lamb sausage, stewed lamb
grilled wolfe ranch quail
cumin-orange glaze, frisée & purslane, grilled bread salad, brandied currants & dried prunes, pine nuts
almond pound cake, spiced black mission fig compote, lebni yogurt ice cream
You can order extra bread with the spreads.
Hope you will report back.
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AZIZA: outstanding in every way
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5800 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94121
Some people don't like sweet-savory dishes, though, so if you're one of those, basteeya may not be for you. A recent visitor reported that she found the tasting menu to be heavy and too much food. Is is a lot of food, so if you're not a big eater, order courses a la carte and share and/or choose your options with an eye toward a balance of lighter and heavier dishes.