Enjoy Basque Cuisine in San Francisco at Piperade
Last weekend was my boyfriend Jason’s birthday and I wanted to take him out to a lovely dinner so we could celebrate in style. So after talking to friends and hearing lots of great things, we decided to go to Piperade.
Located between the Financial District and the Embarcadero, Piperade is a restaurant defined by the Basque region in northern Spain, near the border of France. Piperade means pepper in Gascon/Basque and is a traditional Basque dish prepared with onion, green peppers and tomatoes sautéed and flavored with red Espelette pepper. The colors of the dish (red, green and white) represent the colors of the Basque flag.
Walking into Piperade, you are immediately charmed by the warm lighting, exposed brick walls and wooden beams and the long inviting bar. We were promptly greeted by the hostess. Since we arrived a bit early and our table wasn’t ready yet, we decided to grab cocktails at the bar. I had a delicious peach Champagne cocktail suggested by our very French bartender and Jason had a drink called Donostia, a concoction made with juniper gin, madeira, agave nectar and fresh lemon. Both drinks were strong but delicious and a great way to get the evening started.
I requested a special table since it was Jason’s birthday so the accommodating staff gave us a great table next to the windows overlooking their patio. Our waiter came by right way to greet us with his adorable French accent and immediately opened up our bottle of wine for us. We asked him what his favorite dishes are and here was his recommendation:
Calamari “a la Plancha”, Asian Pear, Mint, Lemon Confit
Cherry Tomato Tartlet, Basil, Balsamic
Piquillo Peppers, Goat Cheese, Pistachios, Golden Raisins
Marinated Mussels, Frisee, Croutons, Aged Red Wine Vinegar
King Salmon, Zucchini Ribbons, Basil, Nectarine Saipicon
Chicken Breast, Roasted Gernika Peppers, White Beans, Chorizo
Roasted Lamb, Chop, Shoulder, Sausage, Cumin-Date Relish, Braised Fennel
And the daily special, a Veal Stew “Axoa,” Braised Peppers
So we took our waiter’s advice and tried the Piquillo Peppers and also ordered the Pacific Black Cod “Bacalan,” Crème Fraiche and Oysters. For our entrees, Jason decided on the daily special and I ordered the roasted lamb. As we enjoyed our wine, we got our bread and then our appetizers. The Piquillo Peppers were delicious – the goat cheese was combined with the chopped pistachios and stuffed into the peppers and the golden raisins on the plate added a touch of natural sweetness to the savory dish. The black cod dish looked beautiful but wasn’t a favorite of mine. It was a piece of thinly sliced raw cod on a bed of crème fraiche topped with raw oysters. I felt like it needed something a little more flavorful or acidic to help break up all the raw fish flavors a bit more.
Then our entrees came out and we had big smiles on our faces. Jason’s veal stew had large pieces of super tender veal in a tomato and veal broth with peppers and potatoes in it. Jason, who doesn’t normally like peppers, loved them in this dish. And I normally don’t eat veal, but I tried a bite and it was delicious – probably one of the softest and juiciest pieces of meat I’ve had. Yum. My dish was amazing too. I got a lamb chop with four bones cooked perfectly medium rare. The meat was tender and roasted to perfection and packed with lots of flavor. The lamb shoulder was a bit dry but I loved the sausage. It was peppery and moist and probably one of the best sausages I’ve had. And we can’t forget about the side of Manchego Potato Gratin we ordered. That was the most amazing part of the meal. Thinly sliced potatoes in a creamy Manchego cheese sauce, cooked until perfectly golden and crispy on top – AMAZING.
We were so full by the time our waiter came back with our dessert menus we were stuffed. But since we were celebrating a birthday, dessert needed to be had. So we perused the menu for something light and decided on Salted Breton Shortbread, Kefir Yogurt, Apricot, Honey (Jason loves honey on everything.) Within a few minutes, I see our dessert coming out with a candle on it . It was the perfect end to the Jason’s birthday dinner.
If you’re looking for a delicious meal in a charming bistro style restaurant for a special occasion or just a night out, Piperade is a great choice. With strong drinks, good food and great service in a warm and cozy setting, Piperade should definitely be on your list of places to try in this city.
Here’s my overall rating:
Food, drinks and ambiance: 3.5/5
1015 Battery St.
San Francisco, CA 94117