Twenty Five Lusk, San Francisco, California – Restaurant Review

By Shannon McClatchey on 1 October 2011
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Ask someone where Lusk Street is in San Francisco and they would probably shrug their shoulders.  In fact, I’ve probably walked past this street a dozen times, but this quiet alley in the China Basin neighborhood hides an amazing dining experience.

From the outside the building could be yet another non-descript rehabbed warehouse. With the $15M renovation of this 1917 meatpacking and smokehouse facility the architects have managed to keep the historical elements while adding modern design comforts.  There are also some nice touches that are a reminder of the building’s historic past.  Walk downstairs in the bar and you’ll see three Scandinavian-style fireplaces suspended from the ceiling  and the cozy, semi-private spaces that were once smokehouse rooms.  If the design is reflective of melding the old and the new, the menu from Chef Matthew Dolan puts a distinctly California take on modern American classics.

The offerings include a seasonal tasting menu that’s updated weekly.  Though we opted to go à la carte, our meal started off with an amuse bouche from the current tasting menu. The Shigoku oysters on the half shell were served with the simplest of ingredients – caviar, cucumber and shiso – that enhanced the flavor of the oysters without overpowering.  The almost citrusy/briny flavor was absolutely delicious – I could have easily eaten a half dozen.

I normally shy away from pasta as an appetizer but my dining companion’s ravioli made with local corn were light and airy served with truffle lemon butter, maitake escabeche and parmesan.  I opted for the raw tuna – I loved the flavors of the cucumber, verbena and soy lime vinaigrette and the grilled pineapple was a nice sweet twist that sealed the deal.

Also from their tasting menu was another amuse bouche – the mushroom risotto that is normally served with their Wagyu beef tenderloin.  I’m a huge fan of anything with mushrooms and, having failed miserably in my own attempts at risotto, I’m always impressed when it’s done correctly.  I only was going to taste but ended up finishing most of the plate because it was so good.

For my entrée I opted for the grilled artic char, which to me was the epitome of cal-asian cooking, served with avocado, fennel, lobster mushroom and lobster citrus vinaigrette.  Once again the flavors worked well and complemented a well-cooked piece of fish.

My dining companion reported that the smoked short ribs were nothing short of sublime.

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