Absinthe Brasserie & Bar

Warning: I’m dying to share my review of Absinthe, but I’m also dying of sinus pressure. Since I’m currently hopped up on decongestants and Tootsie Roll Pops, I’ll go ahead and apologize in advance for this post’s unavoidable oopsies.

One comment I know I’m not messed up on is that San Francisco is one of the coolest cities in America. Maybe even the world. And if you disagree, you’ve either never been to the city, or you’re a salty East Coaster.

On top of a gazillion tourist attractions (Golden Gate, Alcatraz, Lombard Street, etc etc), San Francisco has a gazillion+ restaurants – of all types and styles and prices and smells. I’ve been gone up to the city three times in the last year, and each time I go, I find another “this-is-the-best-food-I’ve-ever-had-in-San-Francisco” spot.

San Francisco does French food like no other city I’ve been to (take that for what it’s worth, since I’ve never actually been to France). Almost every city block has a French bistro or wine bar – buttery pastries, garcons, fancy coffee drinks, baskets of baguettes, lunch wine menus…

Man I should really go to Paris.

Which brings me to Absinthe. Charming, delicious, super French and cutesy Absinthe. We decided to make a reservation here about a week before our trip because 1) Ryan is obsessed with Hayes Valley and 2) I’m obsessed with any menu that provides the background of each signature cocktails.

We got there around 8:15pm and wasted maybe six seconds before ordering drinks (blame that on the plane turbulence). White table cloths and dim lighting, a classy joint like Absinthe called meant fancy martinis. And just because my perfect pear looks a little cloudy in the picture below, don’t be fooled. I would turn down a glass of Dom for a martini made with Hangar 1 and pear brandy.

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perfect pear + mujer verde

Even though Absinthe is French, you don’t turn down seafood ceviche in a city that has a mappable area called Fisherman’s Wharf.

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seafood ceviche w/ taro chips

We also grabbed an order of the spicy fried chickpeas because we both like hummus and thought “this makes sense, right?” (It did.)

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spicy fried chickpeas

If you’re not a fan of ceviche or spicy crunchy things, you can start off with Absinthe‘s famous french onion soup. Or with something from the raw bar menu (I saw some oyster shooters floating around). Or even caviar, if you’re feelin saucy. They also have some impressive “snacks,” like soft garlic pretzels and crispy pork skin belly. But since the French are the world’s biggest fans of butter outside of Paula “I Am What I Am” Deen, I would steer clear of these options unless you feel like making some very special chef requests.

Speaking of, the entrees. I won’t beat around the bush on this – dinner was tough call for me. I’m telling you, the French. Butter. They love it. If they could put a stick of butter inside a duck that’s going to be cooked in butter with a side of buttery mashed potatoes, they would. And sometimes do.

So I knew whatever I ordered had to be worth it. Ahhhh, pan-seared monkfish… I knew it’d be worth it the minute I saw “pinot noir reduction” in the description. When I asked the waiter if it was made with butter, he laughed and said “There’s butter in everything here.” I appreciated the brutal honesty. He also said the chef could adjust the recipe, and I’m so glad he did. Pine nuts, red grape-caper relish, cauliflower. It was aaaahhmaazzzinngggg, even without the butter. I can only imagine how unreal it would be with it…

Someone please go to Absinthe tonight and order it and report back to me ASAP.

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pan-roasted monkfish w/ pinot noir reduction

Ryan only had eyes for the wagyu. And usually I don’t get jealous of his beef orders, but geez this thing was pretty. Green garlic-potato purée, cremini mushrooms, bone marrow – all covered in a bordelaise sauce. About three bites in, I asked him how it was, and he barely looked up. Needless to say, we didn’t really talk much during this part of the night.

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the 7 oz. braised American wagyu zabuton

If you’re playing French for the night, try the coq au vin. Just make sure to ask your waiter/waitress if they make it with butter at Absinthe. Typical recipes don’t call for it, but better safe than sorry. Or go for the hamburger – I must’ve seen ten of these things come out in the two hours we were there.

And even though the chocolate pot de creme and the German chocolate cake are the most popular desserts, if I could, I would get down with the caramelized squash cake. How any of you non-lactose don’t sleep with a carton of brown butter ice cream at night is beyond me.

Website {at) http://www.absinthe.com/

Find Absinthe {at} 398 Hayes St., San Francisco, CA 94102

Reservations {at} (415) 551-1590

Open {at) Tues-Wed: 11:30am-midnight
                 Thurs-Fri: 11:30am-midnight (Bar until 2am)
Sat: 11am-midnight (Bar until 2am)
Sun: 11am-10pm
Closed / Mon
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2 thoughts on “Absinthe Brasserie & Bar

  1. Yes, San Francisco is the coolest city – ever- and sitting at the bar at Absinthe with a Ginger Rogers, Kusshi Oysters, Pomme Frites and Marinated olives is my idea of great start to a good night.

    • I couldn’t agree more! Next time we go (there will be several next times), I’m definitely going with a ginger rogers and the pomme frites – thanks for the recommendation :)

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