The unique shelving (and a look into the open kitchen). Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Hello, blue cow. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Warm root vegetable salad. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Sunday evening I attended a friends and family dinner at the soon-to-open ~ALTA CA~, the latest project from the Daniel Patterson Group. I had an extensive interview a couple of months ago with chef Yoni Levy, and after one bite of his cracked wheat porridge topped with hen of the woods mushrooms, you’ll agree he is one to watch. Alta’s Mid-Market location is pretty ideal: It’s kitty-corner to the new Twitter building, and just a few doors down from the groovy Ma’velous café. And then there’s the Hotspot, but that place is great for its own reasons.
When you walk into the 65-seat restaurant, the first thing you’ll notice is the completely innovative floor-to-ceiling open shelving along the entire back wall that separates the kitchen from the dining room, but still allows for an open kitchen experience. The 17-foot shelves are stocked with vintage pottery, books, and other objets, with a backdrop of the busy kitchen. It’s pretty genius, and sure to be copied.
Patterson had his architect of record for DPG projects, Scott Kester, design the space, and the room’s front angle reminded me a bit of Plum in Oakland. There’s a horseshoe bar made of alder wood, plenty of two- and four-top tables, and yes, there is a strip with working outlets along one wall (you know those are going to be in use for lunch meetings). Patterson’s wife Alexandra Foote has been sourcing the vintage art on the walls; look for more items to be added soon. The boyish music is like something you’d hear hanging out at a friend’s house. The overall feeling is warm and Californian, with plenty of wood (the wood tables feel great, along with the comfortable vintage Danish chairs) and pleasing-to-touch porcelain and flatware too. I also dug the aprons the friendly (and talented) staff are sporting.
So, the menu. You can start with a cocktail (the bar manager is Ashley Miller, most recently at Hakkasan) and some dill-pickled deviled eggs ($5), and there’s also Yoni’s pastrami ($13) and bialys ($6). Or you can go for the chicharrones of beef tendon ($6), which I was calling fatty lace. Or lacy fat.
You can ramp up with bigger plates, like a prettily (but not fussily) composed warm root vegetable salad ($13), with a medley of vegetables like kohlrabi, parsnips, carrots, and more. I already mentioned the stunning porridge, so rich with earthy flavor ($19). Additional plates include confit chicken leg ($18), a spot-on Pacific black cod ($25) with broccolini and the punch of Meyer lemon, and a fully loaded burger ($16) with thick slices of bacon and cheddar cheese. Everything we tried tasted so well prepared and balanced, with a nourishing sensibility. It’s food to admire for a split second before you want to dig in—tweezer food, this is not. Satisfying, yes. Chickpea and oxtail fritters ($16), I am talking about you (which are next are on my to-hit list). And I am sure the lunch menu is also going to be fab (there will be takeout options too). You Twitter folks are lucky.
DPG pastry chef Matt Tinder is behind the daily selection of two ice creams that are an evolved spin on soft-serve with toppings (he’s calling the project The Malted), which will also be available to go during the day, as if you were in an ice cream shop. The wine list is pretty rocking (put together by GM Ben Hetzel and Mark Mendoza), and the 10 bottles of quality bubbly definitely caught my eye. Cocktails include three barrel-aged selections, and four of the draft beers are hyper-local, including Cellarmaker, Almanac, and Faction.
Alta CA opens for dinner on Wednesday December 4th, and lunch this Friday. Hours will be Mon-Fri 11am-2am and Sat-Sun 5pm-2am.