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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cafe des Amis Is at Its Best When It's Least French

Posted By on Wed, Nov 10, 2010 at 11:00 AM

French onion soup, a middling classic at Cafe des Amis. - LARA HATA/SF WEEKLY
  • Lara Hata/SF Weekly
  • French onion soup, a middling classic at Cafe des Amis.

There's Le Central, of course. Café Claude, Grand Café. And anybody who ever perched an awkward paper toque on their head in culinary school had to make croissants and bouillabaisse like they were essential stops along the road to the chef's clipboard. But until Café des Amis opened earlier this year, San Francisco didn't have anything you could call a dedicated temple to the French repertoire. For today's SF Weekly review, Matthew Stafford ― who did a guest stint recently at the tail end of Jonathan Kauffman's vacation ― plowed through a menu that reads like the Larousse index. But, he says, Café des Amis (a Bacchus Restaurant Group venture) is at its best, not when it sticks to tradition, but when the kitchen veers Californian, updating and lightening dishes like tête du cochon and brandade. Of course, maybe the Bacchus Group's real skill was recognizing that Union Street would take one look at Café des Amis' high-gloss homage to Euro tradition and turn as passionate as a Parisian strike mob. Alors!

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