When you think about Provence, you think about long summer days with glasses full of rosé and abundant sunshine. But what might late fall in Provence taste like? Head over to Bouche
, near Union Square, to find out.
The spaghetti squash "Provençale" ($24) is served with a vegetarian, Bolognese-inspired sauce, made with kalamata olives pureed with capers and San Marzano tomatoes. Chunks of kalamata olives give the sauce a chutney-like consistency that was so like meat ragu in texture that a diner next to me still seemed skeptical after being assured there was no meat in the sauce. The sweet, stringy squash mimics pasta in appearance, though its strands tend to clump together. Finally, some toasted walnuts and a crowning flourish of shaved Burgundy truffles add excitement, crunch, and luxury to a fun and special composition.
This Italy-meets-France dish comes from chef Danny Murcia, a recent Michael Mina group alum. The chef himself has lots of family from Italy and wanted those notes to shine through in the dish, though overlaid with the typical French influence you’ll find at Bouche. And though the restaurant only serves one vegetarian main plate at a time, it may want to keep this one on the menu permanently.
Owner Guillaume Issaverdens’ four-year-old spot sits atop the Stockton Tunnel in one of the only-in-San Francisco quirky niche locales. It’s a full-on Euro peanexpat haven because of the late closing hours and the very intimate close quarters. The bar up front is part of the open kitchen, which takes up almost half of the restaurant space. Bouche is exactly like a Parisian “boîte” that is neither a restaurant nor a wine bar, but a kind of hybrid of both.
With that spaghetti, vegetarians can opt for a side of “market greens” that really is the tomato-based, stewed vegetable dish ratatouille, and a Lincoln Logs-evoking stack of panisse — chickpea fries, that are essentially a polenta meets French fries hybrid, dusted with just the right touch of salt on top.
The Union Square Christmas tree you can barely spot from atop the tunnel outside Bouche reminds us it’s the holiday season. That means it’s also squash and truffle season. And it’s always spaghetti Bolognese season. With a little fall, a little summer, a little France, and a little Italy all together, it’s profound how big in personality a simple plate of spaghetti squash at a tiny bistro can be.
603 Bush; 956-0396.