398 Hayes Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Absinthe is a popular French restaurant in Hayes Valley, right near the symphony and War Memorial Theater. It has long been a favorite of art patrons before performances.
Why did we dine here? – We have never dined at Absinthe. Been here for drinks and always had it in the back of our minds that we needed to eat here. This restaurant is one of the highest rated on Yelp in San Francisco. Being huge fans of French food, it was just a matter of time. Our last visit was in March 2014.
Summary – Absinthe fulfilled our expectations by serving excellent food in a romantic setting. Put it on a short list of candidates if you are in the area. 4% healthy SF fee.
Insider Tip – Make reservations in advance, Absinthe is fairly small and fills up fast.
Cuisine – French
Chef – Adam Keough
Location – San Francisco Hayes Valley
Opened – 1998
Decor, Vibe – Absinthe features redish wall decor with lots of mirrors and French posters. The restaurant was filled with well dressed diners. Clearly there is an early crowd that crams a meal in before a performance.
Absinthe’s Menu is fairly compact. We expected more classic French dishes. Not a lot of options especially for vegetarians. We were happy to see their legendary burger on the menu for dinner.
Signature Dishes – Hamburger, Coq au Vin.
Absinthe Food Picks:
Mojito ($9) was strong, balanced, they definitely know how to make drinks here.
Bellini ($9) was spot on, with high quality champagne.
French onion soup gratinee ($5 cup) was recommended by the server. Very well done, cheesy, hot, not salty, one of the better versions around the San Francisco Area.
Soft garlic pretzels, Vermont cheddar Morna ($8) were stellar. Freshly baked, and bathed in garlic oil. Excellent dipping sauce. These remind us of the Garlic Knots at A Slice of New York in San Jose.
Seasonal Fruit Salad ($8.50) with vanilla bean creme fraiche was worthy of ordering. A good sized brunch item full of fresh fruit. Excellent creamy creme fraiche too.
Liberty farms duck breast coffee crust, wild rice hash, roasted almonds, bloomsdale spinach, huckleberry jus ($30) was cooked to a nice medium rare. Lots of long grain wild rice. The sauce was not too sweet. Interesting rectangular cutting style.
Absinthe hamburger Storm Hill Angus beef, aïoli, baby lettuces, red onion, house-made pickles, french fries ($15) optional fried egg ($1.5) is known to be one of the best burgers in the City. Wow, it definitely hit the target. Large possibly 1/3 to 1/2 pound patty made of excellent meat, high quality bun, and a nice runny egg. The fries are thin and super crunchy. While we don’t consider this a typical burger (it is expensive), hard core fans need to try this one.
Market selection of beef, all served with sour cream-leek whipped potatoes, broccoli, Worcestershire jus 7oz Grilled black angus bistro filet ($28) was very tender with nice flavors. Sure to satisfy meat lovers, although portion size was on the small side. At least this leaves you room for dessert.
OK: (Order if you like this dish)
Pans: (We would not reorder these dishes)
D’arbo Cherry and Currant Sodas ($4.50) were pretty bland.
Service – Absinthe had very good service with a waitress who was helpful and somewhat friendly. No issues with refills or requests. Pacing was fine.
Value – Absinthe is not cheap but inline with other restaurants of this caliber. Entrees average around $30.
Verdict – Absinthe lives up to its stellar Yelp reviews and reputation.