We have dined at Chez Papa Resto on Mint Plaza in San Francisco many times over the last few years and have always enjoyed the excellent French cuisine, stylish décor which includes Murano Glass chandeliers and chic black color scheme and the upbeat fun City atmosphere. We were excited to hear that they had recently appointed a new Executive Chef who has great credentials and global culinary experience. Executive Chef Steven Rojas graduated from The Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts and has already received One Michelin Star as Executive Chef at the Saddle Peak Lodge. He was born in Southern California and has worked with award winning chefs in Argentina, Spain, Los Angeles, Chicago and now in San Francisco.
The restaurant was very lively on the Friday night that we dined. House Cocktails were the perfect way to settle in and begin our dining experience. We loved the smooth and cold Paris Right Bank Martini which was made with rosemary infused vodka garnished with a cheese stuffed green olive as well as their just perfect Cosmopolitan. We enjoyed people watching as we could see both the bar and elevated communal table where there was drinking, dining and making new friends. We looked at the focused menu then relied on Jerome, our knowledgeable French waiter to help us with our choices.
The appetizers that we tried were all amazing and could easily be enough for a lighter meal. The La Belle Farm Foie Gras Mousse with hazelnuts, yazu puree and toast points was both rich and so flavorful. You must have the Charred Octopus with red pepper broth, Meyer lemon puree and La Ratte potato foam which was crunchy and had a smoky charcoal taste. Another great choice is the Snake River Kobe Beef Tartar with Dijon mustard, capers, shallots and garlic. It was nicely spiced and we enjoyed the tableside preparation where it was turned into a heart. Our entrees were both excellent as well. The Braised Beef Cheeks with brown butter beet puree, pickled Romanesco and compressed potato fondant was very tender and delicious. The Seared Steelhead Trout with apple soubise, celery root tartar and crispy pig tail was healthy and prepared to perfection. We added a side of their market vegetables and were happy we did as they were also luscious.
The Wine List created by Wine Director George Aknin features French, California and wines from around the world. We enjoyed the 2009 Shannon Ridge Lake County Sauvignon Blanc which was light, lively and fruity with our appetizers. The 2009 VDP, Cotes de Gascogne, San de Guilhem was a mellow white wine which paired perfectly with the trout and the 2009 Georges Duboeuf, Saint Amour Beaujolais was so easy to drink with the Beef Cheeks.
You must save room for dessert as the Molten Almond Cake with honey ice cream and crispy Meringue was fabulous. We lingered and enjoyed an Illy Espresso which came in an oversized cup and a unique and tasty Absinthe Lucid (Combier Loire). There are many myths that Absinthe is a drug and can make you crazy but alas it is just a strong alcohol made with anise and herbs.
Chez Papa Resto is a popular downtown restaurant which features contemporary French cuisine in a very stylish atmosphere and also has outdoor dining when the weather permits. It was voted as a top 100 Bay Area restaurant for the past two years and with their new executive chef there is no doubt that they will continue to get rave reviews and please their sophisticated clientele.
Chez Papa Resto
4 Mint Plaza
San Francisco, CA 94103