We continue our review of spring restaurant menus with another fine California restaurant, Absinthe Brasserie & Bar. This fine dining restaurant has been a popular dining destination since 1998. Located in San Francisco, it is home to Executive Chef Adam Keough. A native of Boston, he adds a bit of New England flair to the west coast dishes he creates. We were able to speak with him and learn more about his spring menu.
TT: How many new dishes have you added to your menu?
CK: Nine dishes have been added. Four are from the dinner menu; one is from the brunch. The menu is constantly evolving. The menu changes seasonally, and we leave things open to what looks good at the market. If an ingredient stops looking good, we change the menu.
TT: Out of these dishes which is your favorite spring menu item?
CK: If a rainstorm is coming, I would want smoked chicken brodo (Italian name for broth), which has chicken locally sourced from Willie Bird. Served with crème fraiche raviolis, it’s great on a cold day. Another item I like is the vegetable plate, which is truly inspired by market and what’s available. This plate includes a roll made with a spring roll wrapper filled with purple potato purée, asparagus, and mushrooms. It also is served with carrot, crème fraiche, and brown butter hazelnut vinaigrette.
TT: Are any of the ingredients in this dish locally sourced?
CK: The majority of the menu is locally sourced. Our main produce company sources from the local area. Approximately seventy-five percent is sourced directly from farms. A few of the main farms we use are Mariquita Farm, Star Route Farms, and County Line Harvest. We also source our meat locally, such as duck which we get from Sonoma County Poultry.
TT: Is there any Boston influence to your menu?
CK: I grew up with certain techniques, making New England contemporary food. My meat and potato dishes reflect my northeast background. I gather inspiration from chefs I learned from in Boston. I also do a lot of sandwiches at lunch, like in New England, such as Italian sandwiches and meatball subs.
TT: For how long will these spring items be available?
CK: It depends on the ingredients but most likely will run into June. Then we will transition to summer. There are so many mini-seasons, maybe a quarter of the menu will change.
TT: What makes your spring menu unique?
CK: We do everything in house, such as making own crème fraiche, yogurt, granola. We also are unique for the effort we put into it. The ingredients we buy are top notch and prepared simply. There’s a variety of options; you can just order snacks, or you can sit down and have a full dining experience. We have a range from just grabbing a beer and a burger to ordering a multi-course dinner.