Despite its reputation as winter fare, an expertly crafted soup may be the best canvas for summer's pure, clean, vegetal flavors. Just think about a crisp, vibrant gazpacho, and you get the drift. Here, some of our favorite summer soups that capture the freshness of the season. Grab a spoon and dig in.
Chef Melissa Perello of Frances has been a fixture at the Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market for many years. Even when this well-known Bay Area chef was between restaurants, she still made it down regularly to see her favorite farmers, scope out the produce, and check in with fellow chefs. Now that Melissa is behind the helm at Frances, her much lauded restaurant that opened last December, she can once again be found at the market every week pushing her chef cart through the crowds, tasting, smelling and sampling for her menu of new American classics.
There are some restaurants that just fit into a neighborhood seemlessly, like they have always been there. Last Thursday, Frances--the month-old solo venture from Melissa Perello--felt like one of those spots. A group of four men sat beside us, chatting up co-owner and wine expert Paul Einbund before paying with a black Amex card. Two women flanked us on the other side, ordering snacks, appetizers and wine.
For every restaurant that has closed (and this year, there have been many) another opens in its place. The natural ebb and flow is what makes this a good eating town, constantly in a state of change and renewal. The latest long-awaited addition to the dining scene is Frances, Melissa Perello's first solo venture, which will open it's doors today (3870 17th Street between Noe and Sanchez, 415-621-3870) in the former home of a short-lived Filipino restaurant that Perello (and her father and a team of pros) renovated extensively.
The woman merging serious culinary chops and neighborhood charm.
It's always struck us as odd that the Castro—so close to the hallowed culinary ground occupied by the Bi-Rite, Delfina and Tartine trifecta, with a gorgeous theater as its centerpiece and, let's face it, filled with the "disposable income" types the right-wing media are always talking about—has never been a great spot for eating. We're happy to see that there seems to be a change afoot. The Castro has its own farmers market now (Wednesday nights until October 28) and Starbelly is quickly becoming the go-to neighborhood restaurant.
This is the time of year when I start thinking about all the bests of the year—my favorite meals, the chefs I hope to see more of in the New Year, the best newcomers, restaurants I’m sad to see close. Melissa Perello is one of the young chefs I’m keeping my fingers crossed for in 2009. I finally got over to Sebo last Monday, where Perello’s been guest-cheffing periodically (her boyfriend, Danny Dunham, is one of Sebo’s chef-owners and was in the kitchen to help). The $45 four-course meal was a well-executed Cal-French mid-winter treat, featuring a caramelized scallop salad with celery root puree, kale-and-chanterelle risotto, and fork-tender Cabernet-braised pork cheeks.