For those thinking about Akasha, check the web site. I'm going tonight, and the menu looks great. BUT... The small wine list is highly overpriced -- about 3x retail (How do you feel about paying $45.00 for a $15.00 bottle of wine?). Corkage is a whopping $25.00, which is a good indicator of how much they are jacking up their wholesale costs.
I'm bringing my own wine. I'll know exactly what I'm getting and still save about $10.00 a bottle, based on my purchase price.
Akasha's food will have to be superior in order to make me a regular customer. Even then, I'll probably only go when I know I won't be drinking wine.
I have to agree with jjtomko3 and was disappointed with Akasha. Went there for lunch on March 27, 2008 and although the decor/ambiance and service were great, the food was disappointing and tasteless. We ordered the albacore lettuce wraps, mac & cheese, turkey burger, regular burger and the shimp salad. All the dishes were just ok and were underseasoned---yes they need to use more salt!! I would go back and have an appetizer & drink in the bar area, but would probably go down the street to Fords or Fraiche for dinner.
We went late last night on a whim after two unsuccessful tries (reservations are totally a must... no kidding...). Thankfully they have opened up their patio which should get more people in...
The service was very friendly and accomidating... No complaints there... Since we were in a pretty much empty patio, there wasn't much of a ambiance problem... but I did noticed the tables are very well spaced... just like in there restaurant...
To start we got the epic onion rings, which were indeed as good as we hoped. The onion ring and the batter is super thin and yet somehow still be able to stand apart from one another. They must time these guys to the exact momment because they were all golden, flavorful and crisp... not super tough like I think would happen at most places attempting this...
P. had the Free Radical cocktail... which was flavorful and well balanced. Pricy, but you did get kick back. Like the onion rings, and most of the dishes, it seemed to play this balancing act with the err on the cautious side. Which suited us just fine...
I ordered the Spelt Spaghetti w/ Eggplant and Goat Cheese Gratin. Which is their play on Eggplant Parmesan. I was delighted with the Spelt Spaghetti... perfectly al dente with lots of flavor. One of the best spaghetti's I've had! The Eggplant and Goat Cheese was seperate, but the richness played well with the snappy noodles. I was a little skeptical about ordering this dish (I wanted something light, but not salad) and I was delighted I gave it a shot...
P. ordered the Scallops with Forbidden Rice Risotto. The scallops were on the small size... well spiced, but sadly a bit too overdone. The highlight was the Forbidden Rice Risotto... very flavorful, played wonderfully with the complex flavor of the scallops and most importantly, it inspired me to play with the Forbidden Rice I have at home... For a home cook, the true mark of a great restaurant.
Finally, we ended with the Apple Tart with Spelt Crust. We had OD'd on Easter Chocolate, so this seemed like a good dessert choice. Again, beautifully and carefully prepared. The portion size like all the dishes were appropriate, not too tiny that you couldn't share, but not too huge either...
Overall, we were very pleased with our meal. We were a bit sad that their bakery operations seem to close up so early. We'd love to pop by one late evening and just have that tart again with some tea... but we are eager to try the menu again when it changes over for summer...
I was also a bit underwhelmed, although I'd give them another visit. My wife and I stopped in on a Saturday night without a reservation and managed to grab a seat at the bar. The room is nice, the bar has plenty of room to eat at, and the noise level was surprisingly sedate given the full room.
Food was a bit tasteless though. We split the wild green salad--the dressing lacked any zip and the could have used a few more shavings of the promised cheese on top. The proscuitto pizza was just okay--it really needed a dose of olive oil and the arugula would have been better if slightly wilted and sprinkled with olive oil instead of just thrown on dry. We also split the steak which was cooked medium instead of the requested medium-rare. It lacked a good sear on the outside but was tasty. The french fries on the side were completely bland (doesn't anyone in the kitchen use salt?) and a bit meager in portion size but accompanying greens were nicely seasoned.
Wait staff was attentive and nice. My big complaint would be that everthing was woefully underseasoned. I love that Akasha is biased towards organics, but that doesn't mean a lack of salt and herbs.
Would completely agree on the seasoning. I've been quite a few times now and have made my way through most of the dinner menu. Love the drinks, love the space, service has also been friendly and fine but I still have yet to really LOVE anything I've had there. It's all good and fine, if not a bit bland. If I didnt live 10 minutes away, I probably wouldn't go back as often.
Mr. No Peanuts and I tried Akasha last Friday night. We think this is a fun addition to the neighborhood, although it's probably not a destination spot for people who live say in San Gabriel. (Similar to Nook or Violet, although bigger than both of these places.)
Clientele: For some reason, on Friday it seemed very female. This is a place that women will like a lot. Not that the guys won't, of course.
Decor: This space is really warm and cozy; which I didn't expect from a room with such a tall ceiling. The warm ceiling, soft lighting and muted with orange accents felt like a comfortable, homey space - not at all like a fancy restaurant. We really liked this a lot. The chairs are o.k., but kind of officey. Next time, I think I'll try to sit at the bar or banquettes - both of which look more comfortable.
Parking - Fantastic and Free
Service - Friendly and soliticious. Also, the waiter sent Akasha herself out to discuss allergy issues (all nuts/beans) and menu choices with us. Although I had put a note on the Opentable reservation, this seemed to be news. The nuts are easily avoidable, and only one item (cookie) has peanuts. Beans are all over the menu, which I like. However, this means that probably I will go most often without Mr. No Peanuts, because his choices are limited.
Drinks -- Fun wine list -- interesting by-the-glass selections, although we bought a lovely bottle instead. I also tried the blood orange margarita (which I drank quickly, as I was due for alcohol) quite balanced, fresh and did the trick.
Noise -- The tables, at least in the center of the room, are very close. (Maybe a bit louder than Rustic Canyon.) So, you can hear everything from both sides of you. We had a humorous experience: the first couple seated obviously disliked my husband's current discourse and asked peevedly to be moved. However, we got along so well with the next seated couple that they are coming to dinner in a few weeks. Really fun, but it is not ideal for a romantic evening (at least not on Friday in the center of the room.)
Taste: The appetizer masala shrimp was out of this world amazing - spot-on-spicing (although if you get it order at least 2 servings). And, I loved the cannelloni bean puree with black cabbage that was served with the pork; so reminiscent of a rustic Tuscan winter food. Short ribs were fine, as was the mushroom tart - but I wouldn't order either of these again. The chunk of whole grain with seeds (?) bread was rustic and fresh; people who like bread will like this alot. I also liked the housemade tangerine sorbet and chocolet hemp gelato (or sorbet...can't remember). So, the menu items somewhat hit and miss - but definitely on par with Ford's, Nook, the Del, (or Avenue - for those who remember that place.)
Overall, I feel like I will have to try lots of things to figure out what I like the most here. I do love that produce and beans are stars at this show. However, partly due to the allergy issues, I also felt like we ordered badly, and would really like to see recommended pairings (appetizer/entree/wine) for vegetarian/vegan/nut allergies. This is a place that I would definitely order a tasting menu too; because of the laser focus on seasonal ingredients. I hope Akasha adds both of these soon.
Timing - The kitchen obviously still has a kinks to work out. Our entrees were prepared before our appetizers; although the servers took the entrees back and returned with the appetizers - our entrees were quite obviously kept until we were ready for them. This delay was no problem for the short ribs, but I think slid the pork chop into overcooked mode.
Tab: About $160ish, including a glass of wine, a margarita, a bottle of wine, 2 appetizers, 2 entrees and one dessert.
We had the same timing issues - still in the middle of appetizers when the entrees were brought out, the entrees were brought back to the kitchen until we were ready. I really think they should've remade them, but for various reasons I wasn't in a position to press that issue. This was about a week ago.
Food-wise, the onion rings were perhaps the best onion rings I've ever eaten. Really, really great. Crispy, not greasy, the batter adhered really well to the thick-sliced onion, and the dipping sauces were very nice. The pizza with La Quercia prosciutto and figs and "oregonzola" was also delish, though more of a flatbread with toppings than what I think of as a pizza. Mac-n-cheese side was also very good. The desserts we had were quite nice as well. The mains were not as good, probably because they sat around.
We sat on the far end opposite the bar and it was LOUD. LOUD. Way too LOUD. Nice decor though.
I'm sure we'll return at some point, despite the loudness, if only to eat the onion rings again.
re: Debbie W
That's odd. My wife and I were at one of the tables on the far wall last Saturday night when the restaurant was packed and we were commenting on how well they have reduced the noise despite all the high ceilings, concrete walls, and glass. The anechoic tiles on the ceiling seemed to really be doing their job. Maybe it depends on where you're sitting in the room.
Went there opening week and was kind of underwhelmed, all in all. It's a cool space, and the menu has interesting choices, but the execution of the dishes wasn't all that great (neither was the cocktail I tried -- a blood orange margarita that tasted mostly like a screwdriver). The desserts were probably the best part. Didn't help that the service was experiencing severe growing pains (our drinks came after our salads, and then our entrees came when we still had half our salads left; and our waiter often disappeared).
We'll probably try it again once it's been open for ~6 months or so. Right now I'd say it's a better choice for lunch or takeout.
We had an early dinner there on Saturday and thought it was good. We shared the ahi tuna lettuce wraps, a salad that had goat cheese in it, a pizza with prosciutto and figs, and a side order of cauliflower. I guess we turned it into a tapas place inadvertantly. All the dishes were good, but the salad and pizza really stood out. The crust on the pizza was great and the prosciutto was wonderfully crispy. The salad was perfectly dressed. I thought the portions were perfectly sized as well. I also liked the loaf of multi-grain bread from BreadBar that they put on the table -- I'm a sucker for that thing. The service was friendly and attentive. The restaurant itself is gorgeous, assuming you're a fan of the raw concrete loft look. We would definitely go back.
I had the pastrami reuben at the waiter's suggestion and was very disappointed. It had decent saurkraut and bread but the meat tasted like mush [Langer's needn't worry]. The fries were so-so (best to order them extra-crisp) but, from a much better dinner a few nights earlier [delicious Indian style shrimp and a lovely pork in an acai sauce], I can vouch for the onion rings. The regular and turkey burgers looked good so that might have been the way to go despite the waiter's recommendation.
just did drinks and appetizers there - drinks were okay, not as good as fraiche down the street
for apps, it was the hummus which was also just okay - i thought the bread that came with it could have had more flavor in terms of herbs or onions or something - just a bit bland
also the onion rings were excellent, perfectly cooked, lightly battered with two decent dipping sauces - servers are friendly and i like the space a lot - would love to take that space and servers and combine with fraiche's food and drink!
i say blech although my experience might have been colored by a very loud and not even drunk man at the other end of the bar. my drink, figs muddled in apple juice with vodka was absolutely undrinkable--i, for the first time in my life, asked the bartender if she'd give me something else instead. the hummous was grainy and very oily although i did like the crunchy/soft bread that came with. all in all, i give the place, both the food and the crowd two big yawns.
I absolutely recommed this resaurant. I lived in San Francisco for eight years and this could eaily be located in the South of Market Area. It has a very industrial chic feel and while certainly busy it was not to the point of being unable to move.
It is split into two sides. The first is the bakery which I am sure does a good trade in the day. The second area is where the restaurant is located. It holds I would guess about 60 people and while the tables are close there is definitely enough room be comfortable.
Food-wise I loved it. My wife and I split the humus which was served with olives on top and pizza "bread" . The bread was crispy where it should be and soft where is expected. I am not a humus fan but this had a fantastic flavor and I would recommend. We spoke to the couple next to us and they mentioned that the ahi lettuce wraps were amazing. For the main course we we had the scallops and a turkey burger. Both were cooked to perfection with amazingly fresh ingredients. I am one of those people who eats whatever is in front of me and I have to say the portion sizes were perfect. I can highly recommend either dish.
The wine selection is not 75 pages of wines, but rather a few very good reasonably priced selections. Most are served by the glass with most prices int the $10 to $16 range.
Desert was also amazing we split a portion of the carrott cake with tangerine ice cream.
We spent $110 for two with a couple of glasses of wine. I am a huge fan of Violet and while the food is different I would say if you like it you will like Akasha. I would say I am considerate of planet Earth but it was great to find a place that has amazing food that is actually healthy.
I hope this helps.