AQ's Food Is as Intricate as It Is Seasonal

Categories: 'Eat', SOMA
Melissa Barnes
AQ's scallops with parsnips.
​There are restaurant reviews a critic finishes feeling content to have said all that he wants to say about a place. And then there are places like Matt Semmelhack and Mark Liberman's AQ -- the subject of the Weekly's full-length review this week -- where 950 words seems like the roughest sketch, a blurry picture of of a subject whose intricate details are the thing you most want to concentrate on.

AQ's conceit is that the restaurant changes both its decor, its menu, and even the waiter's outfits, every season. Liberman is a former chef de cuisine at La Folie and a contestant in the last American Bocuse d'Or competition who's going more "casual"; his food is wrought in formal French technique and the occasional modernist flourish. Where some restaurants serve dishes that fit into neat sentences, each of Liberman's plates is a paragraph, packed with prepositional clauses and rife with adjectives. The scallop and parsnip appetizer above, for instance, involves roasting, braising/pureeing, searing, sautéeing, and deep-frying. Other dishes incorporate dehydrating, juicing, gelling, and sous-vide cooking, too. Entrees cost $25: They're one of the best deals in town.

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AQ Restaurant & Bar

1085 Mission St., San Francisco, CA

Category: Restaurant

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