Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Eat in San Francisco: Nopa

Oven Baked Egg served with creamed lentils, mustard, shaved pantaleo, and toast 

Custard French Toast served with caramelized apples, and maple butter

Whiskey Braised Pork served with butter beans, butternut squash, and olive tapenade

Wood Grilled Rosemary Sausage served with orange glazed sweet potatoes, bacon, onions, and poached eggs

I've wanted to try Nopa ever since my old friend, who's a master at brunching in San Francisco, recommended it long ago. I finally ventured out to this Alamo Square fixture on Divisadero between Hayes and Fell this past weekend. Our brunch group included myself, my friend, and his three friends. We opted to share five dishes so we could all try a bit of everything. Considering how rich certain dishes were, I think we made the right choice.

We started with the Date and Walnut Crumb Muffin served with a side of crème fraîche for dipping. Although this is not pictured, just imagine the moistest muffin you've ever had with a good helping of crumbs on top. Nopa took the muffin to another level.

We then had the the Oven Baked Egg, which was surrounded by the most flavorful lentils around, pantaleo cheese, and toast. If you've ever made lentils, you know that they need something extra to give them that kick of flavor. These lentils had that and more. Combine that with a baked egg and you've got a pretty tasty dip for your toast.

Our next course took the eightieth spot on 7x7's The Big Eat 2014, which features a hundred must-try dishes in restaurants across the city. (This list is sure to be my guidebook for what to try this year. Stay tuned.) It's their famous Custard French Toast. Every part of this dish was incredible. The French toast was soaked in custard overnight (or at least for several hours, I believe) and was very moist and rich. After the first bite, I'm pretty sure at least half of our table had to take a moment to just let the French toast melt in our mouth. It's that good. It was topped with perfectly caramelized apples and a healthy serving of maple butter. This dish comes in either a half serving of one slice or a full serving of two. Unless you have a huge sweet tooth, the half serving should be suffice.

We then had more savory dishes that were equally as good. The Whiskey Braised Pork was impossibly tender. It was served with butter beans, butternut squash, olives, and some greens, which gave the dish even more dimension. It was a hands-down favorite for our table.

The final dish was the Wood Grilled Rosemary Sausage served with orange glazed sweet potatoes, bacon, onions, and poached eggs. Although the flavors in this dish didn't complement each other as well as the previous one, it was still pretty good. The sausage was accentuated by the diverse flavors of the poached eggs, sweet potatoes, and bacon. This was certainly one of the best presented and, dare I say, prettiest dishes of the meal.

Overall, I would wholeheartedly recommend trying Nopa. Their food is very high quality and not too heavy, leaving you feeling like you went on a culinary adventure in your seat. The problem is that it can be hard to get a table, especially during weekend brunch. You can either make a reservation weeks or months in advance on their website, or put your name on the list when they open at 10:30 am and, depending on the size of your party, wait to be served an hour (although probably more) later.

Moreover, the restaurant is rather large and great for people-watching. I'd suggest trying to get a table on the second floor where you'll have an excellent view of the kitchen and the patrons below.

560 Divisadero St., San Francisco, CA 94117
Open: Monday - Friday 5 - 1, Saturday - Sunday 11 - 1

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