The Bar at Gitane
Every time I go to Gitane (gypsy in French) and sit at the bar, look at the luscious décor and let myself get immersed in the sensual orange light, the openness of the space and the Andulusian influence, my energy changes and joy fills me up. If you are looking for a good meal with an escape, a sense of inner transformation, this is the place for you. Nothing here is left for granted. As you enter the door, your entire experience is calculated and cared for.
The night I was there, the music shifted from French lounge to Spanish, perfectly corresponding to the change of mood after the food and the wine started arriving. The three bartenders had their eyes set to the needs of the customers, shaking the cocktail mixers almost to the rhythms of flamenco. The wines on the list are mostly Spanish, Portuguese and Southern French, mirroring the concept of the restaurant. It was a delight finding a great selection of French cognac, armagnac, calvados and liqueurs, all lined up in colorful bottles, reflected in a mirror behind the bar!
The food has Iberian, Moroccan and Provençal influences, with a lot of flavor and spices. Mint, almonds, olives, and peppers add exotic tastes to the palate. The stuffed calamari (Calamares) with bacon and onion, Manzanilla olives, cherry tomatoes and heirloom potatoes were superbly delicious. The Tajine (spiced chicken breast, saffron tomato broth, green olives, cauliflower, almond, couscous) rivals the original Moroccan inspiration. The pan roasted rockfish (Peix Roca) with chickpea stew, eggplant yogurt and broccoli rabe was light and exuded the summer flavors of a Mediterranean meal. You can order the whole menu at the bar, which included other notable dishes such as Bastilla (sweet and savory pastry with chicken, spiced almonds, apricot fennel salad), lamb mergez, Bacon Bombons (stuffed prunes with goat cheese, spiced port glaze), etc.
The Beignets, perfectly French, perfectly fluffy, arrived with three dipping sauces – melted chocolate, naughty cream, and seasonal fruit preserves. The dessert, big enough to be enjoyed by two people, was the crescendo of the night. The bar at Gitane is definitely the place for pleasure seekers, bohemians, and nostalgia for the past, where time was cherished and fervently enjoyed with all the senses. And this is why Gitane is one of my favorite places in the city. Do I need to mention that the owner is French?
- Gitane restaurant, 6 Claude Lane, San Francisco
- Reservations: (415) 788-6686