Before opening this trim 50-seat spot in SOMA, Brian Fernando spent a decade working at San Jose’s Le Papillon, eventually becoming chef de cuisine at that precise, high-concept restaurant. Here, the food is much more personal: He focuses on the Sri Lankan flavors he grew up with (on his father’s side), filtering them through his classical training and serving them as small plates. The references to Sri Lankan flavors don’t always work perfectly—the turmeric gel doesn’t do much for Fernando’s house smoked salmon—but when they do, they are delicious. Order the hopper, a Sri Lankan bowl-shaped rice-flour crepe—it’s filled with a soft-cooked egg and served with sambals—and then check out the wine list. Assembled by Fernando’s former colleague Cameron Mashayekh, who directs Le Papillon’s wine program, it’s a diverse collection, with everything from the expected handful of rieslings to Wind Gap’s refreshing Monterey-sourced arinto to soulful reds that would sing with Fernando’s subtly-spiced meat dishes, like Vietti’s Tre Vigne Barbera d’Asti and the Bandol from Domaine de Terrebrune.
1601 Howard St. (at 12th), San Francisco, California
Asian Fusion, Sri Lankan
This story appears in the print issue of October 2013.
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