When you think of Peruvian cuisine what do you think of? ...... not much come to mind? That was me until last Friday night. Visiting San Francisco's West Portal neighborhood you can find just about any style of cuisine your little heart desires- Sushi, Pizza, Chinese, Indian, American Cafe fare, Classic San Francisco Seafood Melts, Bagels, and not only a Starbucks but also a Peets! West Portal Ave really has it all. On a search for Thai food (turns out this may be the one thing they no longer have) we stumbled upon Fresca, a seated Peruvian restaurant with classy dim lighting and exciting Cultural art pieces. The layout initially reminded me of a few of the small independently owned restaurants I had been to in the city's residential neighborhoods, small but busting to the brim with tables with a long bar at the back. Walking into the restaurant I could see a number of dishes on the tables of nearby diners that looked fantastic so I was confident we were in for a treat. During our short wait we perused the menu and got a feel for what Peruvian cuisine really meant. Fresh fish was by far the most prominent menu item, with multiple ceviches on their appetizer list as well as scallops, prawns, crab, and octopus dishes. Although we chose to forgo the appetizers this time around we were presented with bread in a tall cone shape metal basket. The bread was soft and slightly sweet and was served with a tangy olive tapenade. For our main courses we each went a different direction. I had the paella - aji panca spiced rice, packed with calamari, clams, mussels, prawns, fish, scallops, chicken and chorizo. Abbie had the lenguado - pan roasted halibut, crispy risotto cake, steamed spinach, aji panca beurre blanc. Andrew had the espinacas y cangrejo - spinach and crab salad, crispy avocado, feta cheese, candied walnuts, creamy tarragon dressing. And my Dad had a elegantly plated sea bass (description was not available on the website).
On presentation alone these dishes get 5 stars. Each was unique and well composed. The flavors were vibrant as well. All the seafood in my dish tasted fresh and sweet just as it should nothing over cooked. The rice was the perfect al dente texture as well. The sumptuous butter sauce over Abbie's Halibut was to die for and we enjoyed a unique treat in the breaded and fried pieces of avocado from Andrew's salad. As we enjoyed each of our dishes a new table was seated next to us and owed and awed at our plates asking what each dish was and what we suggested. Not one dish disappointed and we all left full and very happy. I hope to return soon to check out some of the appetizer dishes and intriguing sounding desserts as well! If you enjoy an excuse to explore a new neighborhood in SF West Portal is a great place to check out and Fresca will leave you with a fun new experience you won't soon forget.
Fresca has 3 Locations in San Francisco, visit the website to learn about each one!