Aziza had been on my list of “to try out” restaurants for quite sometime now for 2 reasons.
Reason 1: Long time ago, I was yelping for good Moroccan restaurants in San Francisco and had read delightful reviews about 2 of them – El Mansour and Aziza.
Reason 2: It’s a Michelin one-star restaurant and once in a while we love to try out tasting menus at such places!
We went to El Mansour last year and absolutely loved it, but Aziza had not made the cut then. However a few months back, I was surprised to get a gift card to Aziza from my beloved sister 🙂 We had not found a good time to put that to use until recently. Last minute reservations are always tough, but we managed to get a Sunday night spot at Aziza last weekend. Located in the Richmond district of San Francisco, this restaurant features Moroccan and Mediterranean food. Upon our arrival at the restaurant, we were cordially greeted and seated. The decor of the restaurant is ordinary but the ambiance is quite nice. I would have liked to have a little more light on the table though.
After looking at the menu, we asked if they were offering the vegetarian tasting menu. Unfortunately, they were in the process of updating their regular tasting menu, but they said they could do a 5 course tasting with a few items from the À la carte menu. I liked it because that way we got to taste a few of the chefs signature creations along with a couple of his on-the-fly creations. To our surprise, we got to taste 10 different dishes since both me and M (my husband) had separate menu items. I have never experienced this at another restaurant (at least for a vegetarian menu) so that was definitely a thumbs up 🙂
I am going to do the post slightly differently since reviewing 10 dishes and stating that each of them were extremely tasty would be quite monotonous. Instead I’ll just mention the absolute highlights of the dish and a rating on a scale of 5.
Tasting Menu 1
Soup: Onion soup with mini mushrooms, watercress and pickled radish (3/5). The dish was quite tasty, but I don’t think it was Moroccan.
Salad: Beet salad with cucumbers, spiced peanuts and crème fraiche (3/5). I have had better beet salad’s elsewhere and again I could not find the Moroccan element. May be the spiced peanuts?
Appetizer: Goat cheese, sweet tomato jam, ciabatta toast (4/5). Sweet tomato jammmmm. The taste still lingers in my mouth.
Entree: Green farro with himalayan truffle, carrot, tempura mushrooms (5/5). This was the highlight of my meal. Making like mushrooms and leave me wanting for more is quite difficult and that’s exactly what happened. The farro was nothing like I’ve had before. Very unique.
Dessert: Sponge cake with lemon ice cream, mint cream, caramel, blood orange (5/5). Totally sold on the mint cream. Mint tea is considered to be a Moroccan specialty, but to make a mint cream for dessert! Kudos to the chef since the flavors on the whole plate were amazingly good.
Tasting Menu 2
Soup: Lentil soup with medjool dates, celery, parsley: (5/5) Very Moroccan! Although this was M’s menu, I obviously managed a few spoonfuls :). Loved the sourness of the dates.
Salad: Fennel salad with pomelo, sumac (3.5/5). I think it had boiled shallots too. For some reason, I think this was a dish you would not remember at the end of the meal. But it was decent!
Appetizer: Plate full of spreads: chickpea, yogurt-dill, piquillo-almond with pita flatbread (4/5)
Entree: Brassicas with couscous, almonds and baby cauliflowers topped with foam (3.5/5). I tasted this dish after the farro and so I think it was hard to beat it. The farro was my favorite plate out of the 10 dishes, so I did not bother tasting the couscous too much.
Dessert: A delicious ice-cream with mousse and some crispy treats (4.5/5). (M forgot the name! too bad). For that matter, he had so much to eat, he did not even remember the rest of the dessert plate so we had no notes to jot down!!
I always look forward to the complimentary dishes that come after the meal is done. It is like you are so stuffed with food, that you can’t even have an extra spoonful, but you are still looking forward to taste all the different minis on that last plate after dessert. So, to finish off your delicious meal, compliments from the chef included a plate of dark chocolate truffles, lemon meringue and a sweet chilli jelly (I forget the name). And to top that, granola packets for breakfast next day 🙂 What more can you ask for. Some of the dishes on the menu are quite original and I recommend Aziza for that uniqueness! If you don’t want to spend on the entire tasting menu, the restaurant is a good place to visit for their regular menu too. Finally, a big thank you to my sister for a great gift.