The story: Alta CA is a restaurant that promotes itself as a neighborhood gathering spot in an area that’s still building a community. On Market Street in the proposed development area known as “mid-Market” (home of Twitter headquarters), the restaurant is the latest offering from Chef Daniel Patterson of San Francisco’s Michelin-star Coi and Oakland’s Haven, Ume and Plum Bar.
Why I went: My friend Tat and I had plans for the symphony, and Alta is conveniently located near the Civic Center. With early reservations (which seems like the only ones you can get these days), Alta makes a nice option for pre-symphony/opera/ballet dining.
The vibe: Not surprisingly with Twitter just a block away, the crowd leans young and casual, with men in sporty shirts and leather bowling shoes and women in simple dresses and Bohemian-style jewelry. The large space looks like a wine library with a huge wall of glasses, wine bottles, and books shielding the kitchen.
The menu: The changing menu doesn’t have any sections, and instead lists plates from small to large, and all relatively cheaper than Patterson’s Coi. The kitchen is lead by Chef Yoni Levy, but Patterson’s influence is obvious with a lot of emphasis on vegetables and foraged ingredients, and beautiful plating of the final products.
The booze: Like other crafted cocktail programs around the city, Alta CA’s bar menu include several interesting yet pricey cocktails (ranging about $12 to $14) and a solid list of beer and wine. I actually opted out of cocktails this night, and found a few good non-alcoholic options like the pluot spritz ($6) I ordered, or the orange colada ($6) that Tat enjoyed.
My favorite dish: While all the dishes we had were beautifully plated and filled with flavor, my favorite was the starter I had of smoked trout ($16) that was served with pickled vegetables and bialy chips. (Bialy is similar to a bagel, and while not salted, it was addicting because of the crunchy texture.) Tat also liked his chilled avocado and cucumber soup ($10) even though I thought it had a tad too much vinegar.
Insider tip: Other than the cookies, the dessert menu is primarily offering up soft-serve ice cream infused with creative-sounding flavors such as sticky toffee or peach cobbler. You’re not actually getting a sticky toffee or peach cobber, but soft-serve sundaes that represent those dishes. It’s not clearly stated in the dessert menu. Tat was disappointed when we ordered the peach cobbler and a cobbler never came out, but I liked the ice cream on a warm night and the peach flavor was there.
The last bite: The neighborhood is still developing, but Alta CA has established flavors and well-formed plates coming from the kitchen. While other restaurants offer similar fare, it is a solid option if you’re attending an event in the Civic Center area.
The rating: 3 out of 4 camera snaps
The deets: Alta CA, 1420 Market St., San Francisco. PH: 415.590.2585. Open weekdays, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; and weekends, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Reservations, major credit cards accepted. altaca.co
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