Absinthe [San Francisco, Hayes Valley]

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.
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.

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?

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.

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.

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.


I never understand the current regulations on foie gras in California - what is currently allowed to be served in restaurants ?

Yeah I didn’t know it was allowed either, but it is in the description of a couple dishes on the menu there - there was also a “liver and onions” dish in the appetizer section that had foie:

Seared Foie Gras, Sweet Onion Soubise, Sherry Gastrique, Crispy Shallots, Smoked Duck Breast


I guess it is time for a visit to Absinthe

I also had foie ice cream in Krakow. Macerated fig and Tokaj (wine) jelly. It was quite nice, actually.

I don’t seek it out but Poland, like Hungary, is a big producer of duck and goose products. No need to wait until December to eat them.

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It’s been a while since I’ve been to Absinthe. The food looks quite different than my last meal around 2014. Good to know they’re still around.

Reminds me of Le Calandre’s famous cuttlefish cappuccino.

Sounds good. Foie gras with lavender honey is also an excellent pairing, but this one sounds nice.

Sounds good. Tokaji is very nice with foie gras. For a splurge pairing, I like Royal Tokaji Company’s Betsek - really nice with pepper and orange notes that give it a little lift. Or, there’s several good dry furmint wines that work well with foie gras. I recall a foie and ceps dish paired with dry furmint, really nice.

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