Unexpected Gem -- Axis Cafe for dinner
This place has been at the bottom of Potrero Hill for the last 3+ years and I'd never gone, thinking it just a lunch and coffee spot. They apparently opened for dinners (M-F only) recently and when they showed up in the Open Table update email, we decided to check them out.
Minimal evening business yet, but lovely modern cooking and a short, but interesting wine list (including a terrific 2004 Knebel Winn Bruck Ar Spatlese for $34).
The menu is heavy on apps and salads (11 this evening) ranging from simple warm, marinated olives to things like:
-- Chilled honeydew melon soup with cardomom graite, tart cherries and fried mint
-- Roasted qual with cracked wheat pilaf, green grape-hazelnut relish and molasses butter
-- Bison sliders with sage aioli, roasted tomato, manchego cheese, served with house fries
-- Dayboat scallops with fried green tomato, preserved lemon relish and sage-brown butter
We both had a good little gem salad: leaves with a light lemon-shallot vinagrette, freshly made croutons and a large parmesan crisp. Nice.
We both had the same entree:
-- Grilled chicken breast served sliced over paparadelle with bacon, leeks, black garlic and pecorino. Other than wishing the pecorino had been more thinly shaved this was excellent for the chilly evening. The black garlic was interesting but neither added to or detracted from the dish.
Other entrees (6 total) included some delicious-sounding veg entrees like a lemon farro risotto with trumpet mushrooms, asparagus and parmesan, a Spanish influenced striped bass with jasmine rice, tomato confit, mussels and chorizo, a braised oxtail dish and a couple others.
We did not get dessert but the list was equally appealing, particularly the trio of little ice cream sandwiches with flavors like bourbon vanilla, dulce de leche and a cherry plus I-forget-what-ingredient. I'm not a dessert person, but most of the offerings were more tempting than usual. There is also a choice of four cheeses: tonight a manchego, Humboldt Fog, St. Andre, and Port Salut.
Added pluses: it's quiet (which will change if they get crowds due to hard surfaces), there is a gas fireplace surrounded by comfy plush chairs and sofas, and.... in the evening.... almost unlimited street parking! There is also an outdoor patio with seating and another fireplace.
1201 8th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
Their decor is so attractive, I can't wait to try it for "eating" more than "coffee and." The patio, with its little cabanas, has always looked like a fabulous place for a warm-weather party. It's so chic! And close to the McClintock factory outlet for bargains on special occasion dresses.
I'm not surprised to hear this. The kitchen staff at Axis clearly have talent. Yes, their brunch is definitely worth a visit. The outdoor seating in the back is a plus on balmy days too.
I'll also point out that they are a good place for large catered parties and events. I suppose their catering availability may change if their dinner business grows, but we've been to some events there, and our son went to a big party there. Very nice.