Restaurant Review: San Francisco, California



The Absinthe Group has hit it out of the park with its latest and most ambitious restaurant, a paean to Spain and especially to the fatty, silky delight of jamón Ibérico. Legs of legendary 5 Jotas Bellota hang behind glass, tempting guests at the large, crowded bar. Diners who reserved a table find themselves in a large industrial space warmed on three sides by Moorish design elements and on the fourth by an open kitchen, brimming with paella pans and clay tureens, framed by a large hearth with flames blazing. Chef Ryan McIlwraith, formerly of Coqueta, sends a tapas cart to circulate the dining room, leading off a menu of briny seafood starters, thrilling paellas and whole roasted fish and meats. The all-Spanish wine list is deep and wide—Galician godello and mencía by the glass, verticals from top Rioja producers and plenty of Sherries, from a $5 Fernando de Castilla Fino on tap to unfi ltered selections and some old, rare bottlings from bodegas like El Maestro Sierra and César Florido.

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