[San Francisco, Lower Pacific Heights] Octavia

Octavia, in Lower Pacific Heights, is a restaurant from chef Melissa Perello, who is also behind Frances in the Castro. I’m a pretty big fan of Frances so had been wanting to try this place for awhile. They have one Michelin star.

Unlike Frances, Octavia doesn’t have a bar for walk-ins, though I think they keep a few tables open for them. I managed to walk in as a solo diner and get a seat at a table.

I had:

chilled SQUID INK NOODLES, cortez bottarga, fennel, lemon agrumato ($7)

Off the snack sized part of the menu. I thought this was great. Spaghetti sized squid ink noodles, Nice chew, al dente. Served cold and covered with a slightly creamy sauce, with salty brininess from the bottarga bits.

TAGLIATELLE, sea urchin butter, confît jolly tomato, shishito & pangrattato ($18)

Nice al dente pasta, with fresh vegetables in the shishito and cherry tomatoes. My only quibble was that there wasn’t much uni flavor in the uni butter, but it did have a nice umami-ness. Also had some crispy bread crumbs for a change in texture.

grilled PORK LOIN, roasted fig, grilled eggplant purée, sunchoke & watercress ($35)

I asked my server what she liked between the salmon and the pork loin, and she immediately responded with the pork loin. I guess thats the thing to get. This was very good as well. Medium rare and a little pink in the middle. Quite tender, juicy, and porky. Kind of like the excellent pork chop thats on the menu sometimes at Frances. Also had a few sweet figs, a couple sunchokes, a nice creamy eggplant sauce, and some crispy fried mushrooms(?).

Warm Chocolate Soufflé TART, cocoa nib brittle, salted caramel ice cream ($11)

A delicious dessert. The tart was kind of like a molten chocolate cake, with a warm liquid interior. Ice cream was a nice cool complement but wasn’t super caramel-y or salty. Nice crispy pieces of chocolate brittle.

Delicious meal. Very similar to Frances in price and quality.


Melissa Perello gained quite some recognition far beyond SF with Frances over the last decade and opened in 2015 her second restaurant - Octavia. Often described the less fancier sibling to Frances, it still serves well refined dishes in a relaxing ambience with laid-back yet professional service. Beside a la carte ordering they are also offering a tasting menu which is not your classical version but more a family style served best-of which is a good way to really explore their cuisine. Overall a very good dinner - refined, yet “rustic”/homey and we will definitely be back

homemade sourdough levain, cultured butter - served warm, quite rustic and very good

asparagus, oeuf mimosa, wild onions & their blossoms - tender asparagus with tasty “egg salad”

fava bean tempura - nicely fried fava beans which still had a nice “bite”

fresh bamboo shoots, mozzarella, black olives, heirloom greens - interesting combination of bamboo shoots and mozzarella which worked really well with olives adding some acidity

smoked custard, fava beans, fava bean leaves, walnut - very nice smoked cauliflower custard which covered fava beans as a textural play

little gems, shio koji dressing, sugar snap peas, hass avocado - deceptive “simple” salad but so fresh tasting with an addictive “umami” dressing

ramp casarecce, duck ragu - great tasting duck and nice slightly herbal tasting pasta

halibut, broccolini, amorosa potatoes, bloomsdale spinach - perfectly cooked fish with slightly bitter vegetables

buttermilk fried quail, winter vegetable chow chow, pickled mustard seeds, savoy cabbage - very crunchy quail (but obviously relatively little meat) with a good balance from the (not too) sour “coleslaw”

citrus custard, grapefruit granite, torched marshmallow - light and refreshing

dark chocolate creme brulee tart, popcorn ice cream, miso caramel - not overly sweet tart and a nice savory component with the miso caramel, really tasty popcorn ice cream


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I just bought some shio koji. This sounds like a cool way to use it.

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Many thanks for this excellent report, honkman.