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Sunday, October 24, 2010

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By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri KrasovNo matter what strikes your fancy on Chez Papa Bistrot’s titillating dinner menu, you can’t go wrong with fish.The popular Potrero Hill restaurant’s new chef Shawn Paul, hand-picked by a prominent San Francisco restaurateur Jocelyn Bulow, adds notable creative touched to the traditional Southern French cuisine. With international Michelin-starred venues and domestic landmarks like The French Laundry, Fifth Floor, and Michael Mina in his background, Chef Paul is surprisingly modest and understated, expressing himself in creative combinations of tastes and textures that evolve into some magical experiences on his grateful customers’ dinner plates.Mild and creamy pan-seared day boat scallops are enhanced with a sweet crunch from white corn fricassee studded with bright-green lima beans. Precious black truffle shavings add just a hint of earthiness, harmonized by mache greens.Grilled Local Sardines (a real cat people’s food – must be consumed whole, with all their calcium-rich bones) turn into a little culinary masterpiece accompanied by chickpea salad with pungent green pesto (or rather, pistou) sauce, and crispy parsnip chips.Pan-roasted sockeye salmon brings along a symphony of sophisticated garnishes – meaty heirloom tomatoes, sweet-sour chewy purslane, higher-note-sour green sorrel, and a briny underlayer of black olive tapenade (the latter, served with fresh baguette, precedes any meal at Chez Papa).Another big fish, pan-roasted branzino, comes with roasted salsify – a fish-friendly root; artichokes poached in white wine, and the most satisfying lobster nage – so good, it can be eaten with a spoon.That’s not to say that Cher Paul’s meat dishes are anyhow inferior to fish. Seared Sonoma foie gras is succulent and well-balanced by blackberry ginger compote, onion brunoise, and baby greens, and classic French lamb daube is nicely complemented by rosemary-red wine sauce and root vegetables.Chocolate lava cake and lavender crème brûlée are sure-fire crowd-pleasers at Chez Papa Bistrot. An extensive list of sophisticated libations (wine director Mark Thompson) contains everything necessary for an enjoyable dining experience, including French and Californian good labels, cocktails, beer, and dessert wines, like an excellent sauterne, a match made in heaven for abovementioned foie gras.
Chez Papa Bistrot is open for lunch and dinner, and is located at 1401 18th Street in San Francisco. For more information and reservations call (415) 824-8205 or visit


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