Ahh yes, Frances…located in the Castro, this restaurant has been one of the most popular (and difficult to reserve) in San Francisco for the last five years and no wonder, the place is tiny!
I just happened to stumble upon an available OpenTable reservation and thought “why not try it?” since I still haven’t dined there! The restaurant is quite small with a casual comfortable vibe; the perfect neighborhood spot for a date or night out with friends.
The chef and owner, Melissa Perello (girl power!) offers Californian cuisine showcasing seasonal ingredients. The menu is divided into small bites (literally), appetizers, main courses, and side dishes; the main dishes looked pretty substantial so we mostly ordered smaller plates to try more items.
Overall, Frances was a solid meal. Highlights of the meal were the small bites, the soup, and the dessert. Now when they say bouches on the menu, they literally mean small bites (too bad because they were sooo tasty, I want more)! The applewood smoked bacon beignets are a must order staple item! Light fluffy puffs of air beautifully browned with hints of sweetness and saltiness paired with a rich creamy sweet yet tangy dipping sauce made from maple syrup and crème fraîche. YUM! The other small bite, caramelized cipollini onion tart (you had me at caramelized onions), was delicious; flaky tart dough, sweet onions, fruity chewy dates, and whipped luscious blue cheese. I definitely should have ordered the other small bites as well because they also looked great. Now onto the appetizer, the spinach and green garlic soup, a perfect spring dish. Vibrant and velvety soup flavored with spinach and green garlic (young garlic with a delightful delicate flavor) paired with tangy crème fraîche and nutty Parmigiano Reggiano cheese sablés. Mmm so comforting. Last but not least, dessert time! If you didn’t know, I never used to have a sweet tooth until last year (thanks to my boyfriend…my waistline is not thanking me). Our waitress suggested the “lumberjack” cake and surely it did not disappoint! Moist cake with chunks of sweet apple and spices reminiscent of gingerbread served with a wonderful muscovado (unrefined brown sugar with a molasses flavor) ice cream. Heavenly.
Frances is definitely a restaurant worth trying if you can snatch a reservation. My rating is a 7.5-8/10 for delectable food in a relaxed atmosphere.