I had a solo al fresco dinner at Absinthe. Opened way back in 1998, Absinthe is in a small pocket of French Restaurants in Hayes Valley, with Chez Maman across the street and Monsieur Benjamin also a short walk away.
Started with a cocktail.
BITTERSWEET MAI TAI ($14)
rum, bitter aperitif, orgeat, orange liqueur, lime
Indeed bitter and sweet. And pink. Good. Not sure what the bitter aperitif used is, maybe Campari or Aperol?
and some Beausoleil oysters from New Brunswick ($4.50 each), which were sweet and almost melon-y tasting. Perfectly shucked. No shell bits.
SPOT PRAWN CAPPUCCINO ($11)
black truffle salt
I asked what this is and it was described as sort of a lobster bisque. Or I guess a spot prawn bisque. This was really good! Very rich and creamy and I think there was a little coffee flavor in there as well?
NIMAN RANCH BEEF TARTARE ($21)
pickled mushrooms, quail egg yolk, chile oil, gaufrettes
A delicious beef tartare, artfully presented with a little quail egg to mix in yourself and pickles on the side. Served with gaufrettes/waffle potato chips. Better than bread rounds probably. Nice flavored raw beef with diced shallot and some chile oil which only gave a hint of heat.
GLAZED BEEF SHORT RIB BOURGUIGNON ($38)
carrot purée, shaved celery, crispy sweetbreads
A piece of short rib that was fall apart tender, on top of a carrot mash and with some cornmeal crusted sweetbreads on the side which were very nice and crispy. There were some raw celery slivers in there as well which was kind of odd but I guess added some fresh crunch. A good dish but I couldn’t help but think it would have been improved with some buttery mashed potatoes instead of (or in addition to) the sweet carrot mash.
FOIE GRAS ICE CREAM WITH LAVENDAR SEA SALT ($11)
For dessert I had a scoop of foie gras ice cream, which had a pleasant foie flavor and was topped with some flaky sea salt and lavender petals.