Chef/owner Melissa Perello may already be a local culinary personality at Frances, but her sequel, Octavia, shines even brighter from its home in the tony lower Pacific Heights. Packed with a dynamic and diverse group of diners, the airy, open space feels minimalist and bistro-chic, from the white-tiled kitchen to those raw-wood benches lined with woolen pillows. Service is polite and efficient.
Chef Perello has a gift for elevating straightforward dishes through the use of superb ingredients and beautifully executed technique, beginning with a smoked trout fillet on a bed of cream cheese with green mustard seeds and steamed potatoes. Kale salad is deliciously crunchy and nicely matched with diced fennel, creamy avocado, salty aged parmesan and breadcrumbs in a light vinaigrette. A petite filet of beef arrives tender and perfectly cooked to order, atop potatoes mashed with olive oil, grilled broccolini and cabbage dressed in rapini pesto. Desserts are imaginative and masterful, so save room for their completely new take on profiteroles, soft and fresh, filled with poppy seed-ice cream that is accented with tart rhubarb and kumquat.
Tables fill early, so be sure to reserve well in advance.