AQ Brings Fall to San Francisco

School of Medicine

California plays a cruel joke every year. You probably won’t believe me, but it’s fall right now. Yes, the trees look as they did in March; if you are from the East Coast, this may seem a bit strange to you. However, if you have a bite at AQ Restaurant & Bar in South of Market (SOMA), you might begin to feel the change in seasons.

AQ, “As Quoted,” pertains to the classic menu trope of listing seasonal or unique items. True to its name, AQ recently transitioned to its Autumn menu, modifying both the ingredients in the kitchen and the decor of the restaurant.

AQ is located in a SOMA neighborhood that is “up and coming,” or maybe just “coming.” While it is only a few blocks from the Muni and Sightglass Coffee, this is not a welcoming area. My attitude toward the space completely changed after stepping into the large, diffusely sunlit dining area with twiggy wreaths suspended on exposed brick walls. I was no longer in San Francisco, but somewhere where seasons mattered.

The brunch menu, especially the entrees, was surprisingly inexpensive given the quality of the preparation. I started with yogurt with (seasonal) fruit and pumpkin brittle ($10). It came in a beautiful glass vessel, its sides piled to the top with sliced apple, plum and peach. The fruit was crisp and sweet, though the yogurt was not as well developed or full-bodied as yogurt at other venues. The brittle, however, was surprising: it was carbonated! Pieces fizzed delightfully in my mouth like pop rocks. The entrees (both $14) were well executed and adequately sized. The eggs Benedict featured two poached eggs resting on a thick slab of savory brioche lathered with avocado. The veal hash with vegetables, potatoes and a fried egg had an appealing gaminess.

Brunch felt like a special occasion, at a very reasonable price—and there were even tables available. A delicious brunch, with no wait, is a treat regardless of the time of year. Thanks to AQ, I can’t wait to see what winter will bring.

AQ Restaurant and Bar

1085 Mission St., (415) 341-9000

Price Range:  Brunch under $20. Also serves more expensive dinner and tasting menu.

Hours:  Dinner Tuesday-Sunday, brunch Sunday. Sometimes closed for events.

Reservations: Required