The noble industrial space it contains Alexander Steak House GroupThe patio pop-up opened during the pandemic, as AFICI On September 24, 2022, along a densely packed stretch of Folsom Street during peak hours in San Francisco’s South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood.
But AFICI is not a steakhouse, but rather an upscale restaurant with a fixed, regularly changing four-course menu, shaped by seasonality, full use of animals, handcrafted pasta, and a unique home charcuterie program around A5 beef. Chef Eric Apper hails from the Bronx, having cooked at famous New York City restaurants such as Morimoto, aura and Joel Robuchon. Uber moved to San Francisco in 2018 to take up the position of Executive Chef at Alexander Steak House (Mine Review / last visit He was there in 2019), then turned on The Patio pop-up where he reconnected with his culinary roots and sharpened AFICI’s vision.
space turns. Still high, it moves from a long marble bar and glass-walled front room overlooking Folsom Street, to the lofty but warmer second room, lined with cloth-covered booths, chandeliers, and a wine bar. The AFICI team worked with Marc Dimalanta from Studio Planner D On design, the space was redesigned, complete with a pasta making station, custom charcuterie cabinet and whisk(e)y cabinets.
Top Chef teamed up with Head Chef Daniel Lucero (also of Alexander) and crafted a menu of sumptuous decadence, exemplified by menu additions such as hand-picked, hand-harvested, and processed white sturgeon caviar with his team. California Caviar Company and its founder Deborah King. The caviar in their house is “high in fat”, which adds umami and cream – it is also very salty. work with Kohler’s methodThis amazing growing technique will revolutionize caviar, allowing fish to survive with roe/fish eggs safely harvested from them every season. A serving of Upper Unique Caviar ($183 per ounce) features sifted egg yolks and fresh cream with a touch of mini scallion pancakes in place of the blini. It feels oh-so-SF with its Chinese nod, warm and delicious with caviar and cream.
Another add-on is a must. I thought I knew what to expect with the home A5 Wagyu charcuterie (reasonable price $50 per person). I was not. Hitachi Wagyu Whole Cow Software creatively uses the whole cow. The dish is a wonderland of meaty bites featuring the highest grade of beef, A5, prosciutto-style, rillette with Bronx grape jam, or lard patty smothered with mustard and fennel. Then, the gnocco fritto, a puffy fried Emilia-Romagna dough, usually rich in lard, is here with rolls of lard wrapped on it, imparting a silky, creamy luxury. A5 pancetta-style, wrapped around grissini bread sticks, makes the perfect bar snack. Also worth ordering at the bar with whisk(e)y, cocktails or wine, the charcuterie dish is creative enough to refresh the often tired class.
Moving on to the full menu, at $125 per person for three delicious courses, you can choose from five dishes per dish, and a stuffing feast ranging from seafood and other entrees to medium pastas to meats and other entrees. Then, if desired, dessert.
My husband Dan, the Renaissance man, and I did the usual: each chose opposite dishes so we could share eight for four and try more. We’re still having trouble narrowing down and choosing from some of the options that look interesting.
First course: For a seafood contrast with the A5 charcuterie extravaganza, we went with the popular halibut dipped in Canadian emulsion (a watermelon hybrid of aphid and cantaloupe) with pressed cantaloupe and a gentle blow of serrano chili. I ate beef and seafood already, I chose another favorite meat after pork: rabbit. In this case, starting from devil’s goulash Rabbit, who exudes Germanic vibes in a roulade setting on a green streak of parsnip with a vegetable/herb salad and pickled mustard seeds.
Second Course (Pasta Time): While there were decadent options like white truffle tagliatelle (extra $80) or spaghetti caviar macaroni and bottarga ($10 complement), we didn’t choose the luxury item pasta, which I adore but I’m lucky to have often. Instead, we chose two that looked more interesting. First, the casunchili pasta filled with mashed pistachios and pickled cherries, meat with wagyu confit. What a happy combination of a truly perfect duo – cherry and pistachio – with wagyu silk. Then the corn cappuccino, tasting like late summer summer, is cheerfully delicious with popcorn, Jimmy Nardello peppers and yuzu kocho.
Third course: I’m a sucker for a good chicken nugget and this was a winner. A roll of tender chicken stuffed with red orchid leaves, spinach, delicately blended with a Point Reyes blue cheese sauce, and co with dogli malvatti (Italian spinach and Parmesan dumplings). It was a total comfort, somehow reminiscent of childhood, although unlike any dish I grew up with.
We also decided to end the wagyu experience with “Duo of Beef” (Supplement, $80): Grilled steak, braised tenderloin, and senchuki chips and puree, just as juicy (but just the right size) as one would expect. Although this dish is a shining example of what Alexander does best as a group, I dare say the other courses – especially the wagyu charcuterie – show off the unique Upper Perspective and have me intrigued to see where he and AFICI are evolving.
Wine director Nicholas Keegan has a sharp sense of humor and runs a narrow wine list for small wineries from California, Italy, France and Spain on a list of nearly 20 wines by the glass and more than 80 bottles. Exquisite wine pairings with our dishes include the balanced and gorgeous skin-to-skin body Spicogna Friuli Coti Oriental Pinot Grigio Ramato From Italy, earthy olive, vegan, dark berry 2018 Catherine Kennedy Estate Cabernet From the Santa Cruz Mountains, the fresh and sparkling 2018 San Lorenz Malvasia Fresanti Venezia Giulia.
Bar manager Nicholas Bonnie makes the usual classic cocktails and the most interesting house drinks like the Ripple Effect, with Spacesmith London Dry Gin, aquavit, radish as garnish, bianco vermouth soaked in wasabi, thyme and butterfly pea flower for a purple hue. Radishes add a welcome savory vegetable ingredient, while I hope to taste aquavit and notes of cumin, dill, anise, and caraway. The ranchero is a mezcal-forward . orange-pink cocktail Los Vicinos MezcalAnd the demiRhubarb, tomato water and cucumber terga vinegar. More cucumber and rhubarb will add intense intensity to this tomato-y mezcal profile. Home whisk (e) tanks for your selected bottles, a list of strong and organic spirits offering rare whiskeys, complimentary cocktail service and exclusive tastings, more oomph on the drinks side.
Pastry chef Anna Szito’s also showcases seasonal NorCal produce, while Bodino’s rich chocolate miso caramel, cocoa, and candied hazelnut look like an evergreen crowd, though the dark, earthy chocolate is sweet versus very sweet. Yuzu Bousset is a play on a light, citrusy “milk” dessert that’s pretty and light with local yuzu flowers, citrus meringue and blackberry granita for contrast on a yuzu cake.
AFICI is arguably the most unique concept in the Alexander Steakhouse group of restaurants (the original Alexander Steakhouse in Cupertino, California, since 2005, followed by locations in San Francisco and Pasadena; Sea of Alexander Steakhouse in Palo Alto since 2012; One65 multi-complex French levels for 2019 in SF). From caviar to A5 wagyu, house-made pasta and mulled wine, it feels like a party night out as the care team seals the deal.
// 680 Folsom Street; www.aficisf.com
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