Aster – The Mission, San Francisco

Aster

1001 Gurerrero Street
astersf.com
@aster_sf

After a medium term break of traveling to Japan twice and continually eating (just not writing about it), we are firing up the old word processor for round two.  Our first meal back on the horse was at Aster, a new establishment filling in the former Beast and the Hare location. Aster is the work of Outerlands chef Brett Cooper and is a part of the Daniel Patterson Group (Coi); expectations have been set.

Aster sectionalizes its California centric menu into into sized based blocks with light bites ($8), small plates ($13-16), entree courses ($26-33), and dessert ($12). Fresh bread and house cultured butter is $5. Corkage is $30 and waived with a purchase. Internet rumor indicated the prices would be tip-inclusive but this was not clearly outlined on the menu and the credit slip still had a tip line.

We ate this meal in a group of four, doing our best to quarter each dish.  The result is that we were all able to get an ample bite of each dish; large enough to get an enjoyable taste while still small enough to often leaving us wanting more.

Light Bites

We shared the bread, which came out in four warm sliced and an ample enough of butter.  Hunger got the best of someone and the dish was demolished prior to its modeling session.

Chicharrones

espelette, charred avocado dip, chive

Aster_01_Chicharrones

Light and airy; crispy yet chewy.  The avocado dip was delicious and could have been its own meal; though transporting it to the vessel wasn’t as simple as dunking. This is not for those wearing a white shirt, its a bit messy on the fingers.

Small Plates

Next up is a series of three of the five small plates.  If I had my way, all would have been ordered.

Delta Asparagus

ham hock, spring onion, egg yolk, sorrel

Aster_02_Delta_Asparagus

Two dishes in and we can see everything is going to be colorful and bright.  The asparagus was firm and fresh, complimented nicely by the sauce.

Cold Smoked Trout

sunchoke, radish, preserved meyer lemon

Aster_03_Cold_Smoked_Trout

Keep the colors coming!  The flavors of this dish are stuck in the back of my mind because of the awesomeness of the next.

Pigs Head Croquettes

mandarin kosho, arugula kumquat

Aster_04_Pigs_Head_Croquettes

 

It is hard to explain how amazing this was.  First off, the kumquat was like taking 10 oranges and condensing it into a single, zesty, citrus bite.  The croquette hard and crispy on the outside and a melty gooey explosion lurking within.

Entree Courses

We were getting into our groove as these three courses came out.

Dry-Aged Beef

spring porridge of green farro and pioppini mushroom

Aster_05_Dry-Aged_Beef

 

Meaty and earthy and placed directly in front of me. I would have been absolutely satisfied if I didn’t have to share this.

Potato Black Pepper Dumplings

maitake, peas, charred scallion

Aster_06_Potato-Black_Pepper_Dumplings

 

This might have been the consensus favorite among the other three.  The dumplings were hearty and thick.  While flavorful, I felt the dish was a little dry (possibly biased by this following the steak).

Pork Shoulder

new potato, rhubarb, grilled broccoli

Aster_07_Pork_ShoulderI don’t have any specific memories of this dish, aside from poaching the broccoli at the end.  I do know it was tasty enough for me to quickly gobble down my ration.

Desserts

Three on the menu…why not get all three!  Don’t be fooled by the simple names – these were anything but conventional.

Raspberries

buckwheat, farmer’s cheese, sichuan peppercorns

Aster_08_Raspberries

Tart.  Tart.  Tart.  I also don’t think the structural integrity of those “floors” would pass a building inspection, they beautifully split in two with a slight amount of spoonular pressure.

Frozen Chocolate

mandarin, cocoa nib, basil

Aster_09_Frozen_Chocolate

Sweet. Sweet. Minty. The dish was a chocolate lover’s dream. The marshmallow thing on top was good. Get a basil/minty leaf and the flavor profile changes completely.

Beet & Rhubarb Cremeux

white chocolate, hazelnut

Aster_10_Beet_Rhubarb_Cremeux

Strangest sounding before dessert…..favorite of the three after.

 

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