Starting your dinner with dessert might be a great idea, especially if you dine at the newly open Chez Manan West in Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco.
That tender airy crepe with chestnut crème caught my imagination, and appeared to be everything I hoped for. But no, I didn’t eat my dessert first, although I was aware of the fact that life is short…
I had my highly enjoyable traditional French dinner at Chez Maman the proper way, starting with Les Moules Mariniere – fresh plump mussels bathed in a fragrant broth of white wine, lemon juice, garlic and parsley.
On De La Maison menu they were “recommended with fries,” as if there were any other way to enjoy them.
My dining companion, who takes sausage over shellfish every time, chose merguez (spicey lamb sausage) with hot-hot-hot harissa for his starter.
For entrée, I had delicious medium rare flat iron steak in green peppercorn sauce – and more fries! He voted for a pork chop smothered in apple cider mustard sauce and garnished with Brussels sprouts. Both plates were well worth licking.
Conceived by Jocelyn Bulow, San-Francisco’s famous restaurateur of Southern French descent, Chez Maman West follows the well-established path of his other famously successful eateries, like Chez Maman, Chez Papa Bistrot, and Papito.
"This new location joins the one on Potrero Hill and I've been delighted by the eager anticipation that has preceded our opening. I think the response is because we serve something that will please almost every palate," said Bulow.
On the night we dined, one of his partners and General Manager, David Alexander, greeted us by the door of Chez Maman West, where a line of patrons eagerly anticipating their meal was already forming.
The menu, executed by Chef Russell Cab and his team, features French bistro cuisine classics as well as panini, burgers, and a special section of tacos, burritos and quesadillas from Papito, a beloved Mexican restaurant serving fresh organic locally sourced produce.
20 red wines, 20 white wines, margaritas, Bloody Marys and housemade sangria are the staples, while daily specials are listed on a blackboard above the bar.
Small, but lively and bustling dining room, copper and granite bar backed by an oversized mirror, plenty of natural light streaming through the floor to ceiling windows, and fast attentive service create an atmosphere of a hip modern bistro, where you can take your date, your parents, or your friends, and feel welcome, well taken care of, and – at home.
Chez Maman West does not accept reservations or have a formal host station, but it feels good just to wait for you table here, a glass of house red in hand.
Chez Maman West is located at 401 Gough Street, San Francisco. The restaurant is open daily, Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. with weekend brunch served until 4:00 p.m. For more information, call (415) 355-9067 or visit www.chezmamansf.com.
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