AL's Place is a vegetable-centric restaurant in the heart of the Mission. Walking into the light-filled restaurant with bright blue and orange accents, you can't help but feel optimistic. It's definitely a glass half full kind of spot. After reading Bon Appetit's feature story declaring AL's Place the best new restaurant in America last year, we were excited to try it.
The menu at AL's Place gives vegetables the starring role, while meat plays a supporting role, listed under the Sides and Limited Availability sections. That's just fine by me, since I like to adhere to Michael Pollan's healthy eating guideline expressed in his book Food Rules: "Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much." This is no chore at AL's Place. Chef Aaron London makes veggies sexy and delicious.
We chose the Family Style option - paying $60 per person for 10 courses served family style. We also added in an optional 11th course from the meat sides. It sounds like a lot of food, I know. But we ate every last bite, feeling satiated and only a skosh gluttonous. Here's how our dinner unfolded:
We loved every dish. Chef London kept them coming at a brisk pace. From our table, I watched him expedite and was impressed by the energy and precision he put into the task - checking his watch, scribbling notes, and keeping rhythm with the beat of his line. I stopped by on our way out to thank him for a wonderful meal asked him to sign the menu, which he did so generously. I geeked out a little by telling him how much I enjoyed an Ubuntu dish of fried garbanzo beans topped with a poached egg many years ago when he was chef at that groundbreaking Napa restaurant. He smiled knowingly. And proudly. As he should.