Tonight we went over to the Marina to celebrate Britt's birthday with insanely good hamburgers at Cafe Des Amis. The restaurant is a sort of French Brasserie in the American style - according to our waiter. Like Spruce and The Village Pub, Cafe Des Amis has a masculine, old-money sort of feel, both in terms of the decor - red velvet walls, zinc bar, lots of highly polished surfaces - and the patrons. We were definitely on the younger side of the crowd in the dining room, but the atmosphere still felt lively and relaxed.
Our reservations were for 5:30 and the place was pretty empty when we arrived. We got lucky and were seated on the mezzanine level, which was much more spacious, had an awesome chandelier and fireplace and best of all had french doors that let in tons of light and air.
We ordered a few appetizers to get started. My favorite of the three was the nettle and spinach flan, which included organic egg yolk, parmesan, truffle and potato vinaigrette. The texture was really smooth and creamy and the nettles gave it an earthy kind of taste. Plus I love truffles.
We also shared the stuffed zucchini flowers with salmon mousse and a tomato salad with feta. I really enjoyed the zucchini but was underwhelmed by the tomatoes. They weren't very flavorful and didn't have that just-picked-off-the-vine taste that I was expecting.
Burger time! Between the 5 of us we ordered 4 burgers. You can add on carmelized onions, gruyere, bacon, or even an egg or roquefort. Or all of these if you're feeling insanely decadent. The burgers are served on brioche buns which is very "fa la la", according to our waiter - I'm not quite sure what he meant by that but I appreciated his enthusiasm. Who doesn't love brioche?
A couple weeks before this meal I had tried the Spruce burger for the first time and had declared that to be my favorite burger, but this version is at the very least tied - which isn't all the surprising given that Cafe Des Amis is owned by the same people as Spruce. It was incredibly juicy and the cheese and onions weren't overpowering - it just added some nice flavor. The bun was warm and soft - which is how I like it - and the fries were very... fried. There wasn't much in the way of potato inside the exterior but because they were cut a bit thicker it didn't bother me as much as it did at Absinthe.
For dessert we ordered the nectarine and blackberry tart and the profiteroles with warm toffee fudge sauce. I loved the tart - it was, well, tart, the pastry was light and the creme fraiche ice cream was a nice contrast with the tartness of the fruit. I didn't love the profiteroles as much, but I never really love profiteroles so that isn't so surprising. I did enjoy the warm toffee fudge sauce though.
It was an enjoyable dinner overall, and I'm excited to go back again, particularly to order seafood from the raw bar. Waiters kept appearing at other tables with huge tiered platters of "fruits de mer" - oysters, clams, shrimp, lobster. They also have late night dining, serving a modified menu from 11pm - 1am and are about to start brunch service. Something for everyone!
Cafe Des Amis
2000 Union Street
San Francisco, CA 94123