A report by Dana Eastland. As we mentioned back in March, there is a new bistro headed to 21st Street in the Mission, called BISTRO L’AVIATEUR. To recap, the project is definitely a family affair, from husband-and-wife team Maha and Vincent Laforge, with Maha’s sons helping out in the kitchen.
I had a chance to attend a friends and family preview dinner on Sunday evening. The small, intimate space feels very warm and welcoming. It’s a cliché, but it truly does feel like dining in someone’s home. The name means “the aviator,” a nod to Vincent’s past as a pilot and the globe-trotting nature of the food. There are fun aviation-inspired decorative elements throughout the restaurant, including an Art Deco lighting fixture, prints of planes, and other pieces of fun memorabilia. The space seats 25, with a bar along one of the large windows and a communal table that can accommodate large groups. Eventually, there will also be sidewalk seating.
As for the food, the menu will change daily, with one salad, one soup, two appetizers, and two entrées (one meat or fish, one vegetarian) available at lunch and dinner, and Tunisian-style tea and pastries available in the afternoon (the kitchen will close from 2:30pm-5:30pm every afternoon, with tea, coffee, pastries, and juice available). The food is French, with influences from all over the Mediterranean, including Maha’s native Tunisia. At the preview dinner, there was a delicious beef bourguignon with mashed potatoes, and a vegetable “caviar” with carrot-pepper sauce and pesto. One of the teas served in the afternoon is mint with toasted pine nuts, and the pastries include marzipan with rose water and North African spices, along with French macarons. There will also be a small, reasonably priced wine selection with both French and Californian choices.
I was struck during my visit by how warm and friendly the Laforges are, and how comfortable their restaurant feels. It’s not high end or groundbreaking, but it’s comfortable, hospitable, and full of heart and soul. It’s also family-friendly, with high chairs for well-behaved children. They plan to open their doors for lunch and tea service on Wednesday September 10th, and hours will be Mon 11:30am-7pm, Wed-Fri 11:30am-9:30pm, Sat 5:30pm-9:30pm, Sun 11am-3pm, closed Tue. Hours may change in the coming weeks as they figure out what works best. 2850 21st St. at Alabama, 415-757-0272.
The cheerful interior and communal table at L’Aviateur. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.