Ame Restaurant, San Francisco Review

By Jonathan Spira on 8 August 2010
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Ame, which opened in 2005 in the St. Regis Hotel in SOMA, is run by Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani, who also operate the well-known Terra Restaurant in the Napa Valley.  The restaurant emphasizes what it calls “New American” cuisine and my meal here was a highlight of my stay in San Francisco.

The St. Regis hotel itself seems to channel art, and what comes out of ame’s kitchen and wine cellar would qualify as art as well.  The unique use of materials on floors and walls was elegant and understated; the sculpture-like undulating walnut wall was itself a work of art.

While everything from the Tempura Poke (Seaweed, Hawaiian Sea Salt and Green Onions) to the Lightly Smoked Tasmanian Ocean Trout (served with Avocado Mousse, Jicama Salad and Preserved Lemon Pistachio Salsa) all sounded wonderful, it was the Grilled Breast of Liberty Farm Duck  (served with Forest Mushroom Foie Gras Bread Pudding and Sour Cherry Duck Sauce) that won my heart.

Ame’s wine list had an extensive selection of Austrian wines, all of which I knew quite well, so I resisted the temptation to go in that direction and, instead, asked the wine director (the restaurant eschews the title “sommelier”) to select some of his favorite wines for me.

(The Austrians on the list include two Bruts from Schloß Gobelsburg in Langenlois, multiple Grüner Veltliners including one from Nigl in the Kremstal, six Rieslings, a Sauvignon Blanc from F.X. Pichler in the Wachau, and my all-time favorite dessert wine, Ruster Ausbruch from the amazing Heidi Schröck in the Burgenland.)

We started with the Tosca Vermentino 2009, a wonderful Tuscan wine with crisp acidity and a long finish.  I then tried the Abraxas Los Carneros 2009 vin de terroir, from Robert Sinskey Vineyards in Sonoma.  The Abraxas is a wonderful Alsatian varietal blend (47% Pinot Noir, 23% Riesling, 17% Gewürztraminer, and 13% Pinot Blanc), vibrant and fresh with an additional richness in the mouth.  Next came a spectacular 2008 Spätburgunder Weißherbst from Weingut Robert Weil in the Rheingau.

The duck was served and we tried two more wines, a McIntyre 2007 Estate Pinot Noir and a magnificent Nebbiolo from the Moccagatta in the Langhe.  I didn’t find the McIntyre to my liking but the Nebbiolo was incredible.

Typically a Nebbiolo requires aging to balance the tannins with other characteristics, but trying this was a wonderful education as it was perfectly balanced.  I can say the same for my meal at ame.

689 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94105-4126
(415) 284-4040

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