Sunday, March 27, 2016

Dinner @ Mourad in San Francisco, CA

I recently was able to hit up Mourad in San Francisco.  It's a relatively new restaurant from the folks that are behind Aziza.  It was given a debut of 3 out of 4 stars from the San Francisco Chronicle (very good for a restaurant that is just starting) and got a Michelin Star in 2016.

We were out to celebrate a friend's birthday and were intrigued by Mourad.  While it has a pricier a la carte menu (appetizers around $20, entrees around $35, and desserts at $12) and a tasting menu for $120, they also had something they call "la'acha".  It's a family style meal for the table.  They have several options such as lamb, short rib, and chicken.  The portions serve anywhere from two to six people.  Each also comes with several sides.

We decided to go for the duck family style option which they said served 2-3 people.  The family style meals take atleast 30 minutes to prepare, with the duck taking 45 minutes, so we got some appetizers first.  Since we got duck for our main entree, we got two seafood appetizers to share.

1) OCTOPUS, chickpea, artichoke, olive, merguez

First up was an octopus appetizer.  You can see the little bits of artichoke beneath the octopus, bits of orange on top, and the chickpea spread in the front.  The waiter then poured a liquid which I believe he said was a lamb based broth.  I don't recall seeing merguez (which according to Google is a sausage).  Perhaps that was part of the broth.  Overall, this dish was delicious.  Been awhile since I had octopus that good.

2) SALMON, kumquat, soubise, radish, lentil, z'hug

Admittedly, I'm not a big fan of salmon, however this salmon was delicious.  Smoked perfectly so it was still soft in the middle.  I had to look up what z'hug is, and it's apparently a spicy sauce originated from Yemen.  I assume that's what this was marinated in.  The lentils were toasted and on the bottom and gave this some texture differences.

3A) DUCK, date, smoke, mandarin

Finally, the main course.  When this first came out, my first thought was, "This is for 2-3 people?  It looks like a lot."  However, I think the portions were perfect for three people.  The duck was already de-boned and stuffed with sausage (I believe they said duck sausage) before it was roasted.  You can see some dates near the bottom in a date reduction sauce and some of the mandarin oranges on top.  It came with the following sauces.  Overall, I think the dish was really good.

I remember the one in the upper left being a harissa sauce, the upper right being tomato based, but can't remember the bottom one, although it's clearly an herb based sauce.  I though all three were good, but I think the duck and the date reduction sauce was delicious by itself.

The following were the four sides that came with the duck.  Although I took close ups of the dishes, I hope they do not come across looking larger than they really are.  They were all relatively small, in probably "cereal bowl" size dishes.  Hopefully the utensils in the picture give an idea of the size of the bowls.  While they are tiny, they were perfect for three people.

3B) KALE, olive, citrus

I'm actually not a big fan of kale, but this was really good.  The citrus I believe was lemon and I believe the chunks of yellow above were lemon rinds.

3C) HEIRLOOM BEANS, tomato, feta, za’atar crumble

The beans were underneath the feta and bread crumbs in the this picture.  I had to look up za'atar, and it's is apparently some type of herb.  I guess it was in the beans.

3D) POTATO, buttermilk, onion

I think the waiter said there was chicken skin on the potatoes, which I couldn't quite pick up.

3E) COUSCOUS, brown butter

The waiter said this was cooked with preserved lemon.  This was really good.

My friend commented on the sides with something like, "These are really plain ingredients, but they are just tastier here."  I completely concur.  For some reason they were all tastier.

With the main course out of the way, we now work our way to dessert.  We didn't really share these so I can only really comment on the first of these three.

4A) BLACK CURRANT, lavender sponge, coconut

Overall really good.  You should be able to see the black currant red sauce throughout this dish and the coconut ice cream at the bottom.  There are some pomegranate sprinkled throughout too.  I'm not a fan of coconut flavor, however the ice cream was really good.  Not too strong overall.  The lavendar cake was really good, although I think there was too much black currant sauce overall and may have overpowered things a bit.

4B) APPLE, chocolate, caramel, cardamom

This dessert looked really pretty and the bit of apple sorbet on the right I tried was really good.  Unsure of what all of the components on the left were, but I believe there was marshmallow, wafers, and compressed apples along with the chocolate branch.

4C) HONEY & ALMOND, beeswax, orange blossom

I tried a small bite of this but can't remember much, sorry.  There was some softer creamier stuff on the bottom, some crunchier stuff on top, and then what I assume was the honey-ish/beeswax-ish item on the top.

5) mignardise - pistachio cake w/ chocolate

Overall a really good meal.  I would highly recommend for a group outing as the family style meal is a great deal and makes the meal not quite that pricey per person.

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