Alembic - Page 2

Raising the bar
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Photo by Rory McNamara

Very unbarlike.)

Then there are the little snacks, or nibbles, among them slightly sweet nuts roasted with sage ($3) and a cone of excellent herbed frites ($5) spiked with lemongrass and accompanied by with a small tub of chipotle aioli. We found the nuts underpowered; they could have used some salt and maybe some chili heat to balance the sweetness. But the fries were svelte, crisp, and sublime.

They also went nicely with one of the menu's handful of meaty dishes: Moroccan-style sliders ($10), halves of a beautifully juicy, medium-rare lamb burger served on toast points, with harissa aioli, roasted peppers, and tapenade. The burger doesn't come with the fries, but you might think about having them together, in part because burgers cry out for fries, and if you're interested in a burger you're probably pretty hungry, and this burger isn't that big. A man in full dinner mode could easily eat three, and that would put the tab at a Manhattan-ish $30.

If that seems a little(or a lot) steep, you could go to Plan B: dessert. No one would ever mistake the Alembic for Sweet Inspiration, but the kitchen does manage to turn out some respectable confections. A strawberry beignet ($7), for example, turns out to be an actual freshly fried doughnut, complete with a tight hole in the middle, but the strawberry refers only to the pat of strawberry ice cream on top, which was a pretty pink but too sweet. Better balanced are the troika of s'mores ($7), with homemade marshmallow, lengths of fresh banana on top, and a chocolate hazelnut sauce slithering around the plate. The sauce is tasty but difficult to eat, since the s'mores themselves aren't very absorbent and have a way of disappearing in a single, gratifying bite. A smaller s'more need not be a lesser s'more.

ALEMBIC

Dinner: nightly, 5 p.m.–midnight

Lunch: Fri.–Sun., noon–5 p.m.

1725 Haight, SF

(415) 666-0822

www.alembicbar.com

MC/V

Full bar

Noisy

Wheelchair accessible

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