It was grey that evening, the pavements smelt vaguely of rain despite its dryness. From there we entered Locanda, a restaurant reminiscent of other renown Mission eateries: high ceiling, low lamps, paintings neatly stacked in giant frames against the tiled walls, open kitchen radiating a warm aroma that blankets you in. And per usual, my companion did not enjoy being photographed.
There we were greeted with drinks accented with fresh fruits (Piedmonte Punch was very fun) and a fresh board of foccacia; olive oil gathered in little navals of the sliced bread, enticing our taste buds.
As recommended, I had the fried sweetbreads and artichokes as my appetizer. And my, I had to thank my friend twice for his advice. Tender halves of artichoke hearts were the taste of spring mornings, gently enveloped in a delicious, almost airy, crisp. Tossed in the mix were the sweetbreads; they too resided in these perfectly seasoned golden pockets.. The sweetbreads were soft yet bouncy, with a salty creaminess that reminded me of steamed fish milt. Scattered were fried sage and capers, all consumed and without a trace.
For entree, I had the grilled lamb leg with chickpeas and lettuce. Lamb had never associated with the word ‘light'; yet somehow, this dish was exactly that. Pink, juicy slices rested on top of mashed chickpeas, adorned by pale emerald greens. It was flavorful yet delightfully refreshing at the same time. My only tiny hope would be for the lamb to be better seasoned; something to round off the slightly overwhelming gaminess.
Not photographed here was the prosciutto wrapped rabbit with gnocchi and grilled lettuce. Smoking rabbit, was it delicious. No matter which cuisine it is, nothing could quite go wrong with bacon-wrapped-meat.
It was a lovely meal. Not the rustic affair I had anticipated, but a simple, refreshing Californian twist on some old world components. There were small details here or there that could be a bit more balanced, but it had been a delightful experience. I may be back for the home-made pasta.
Locanda | 557 Valencia Street | San Francisco, CA 94110 | 415.863.6800