NEW AMERICAN | MICHELIN *
Chef and owner Brett Cooper draws from his experience from Coi and Saison, and does something new and wonderful in this Mission District's hidden gem. Aster opened its doors in 2015 and has rapidly become a neighborhood favorite. Their menu, formatted to encourage a 4 course tasting, is a refreshing rendition of casual and fresh Californian flavors. The ambience is relaxed. The plates are artful. The flavors are complex.
First courses, like their delicately cured trout paired with tart grapefruit segments, were light and refreshing.
Citrus cured trout, fennel, sorrel, sourdough
Beets, pomegranate, pistachio, cultured cream, arugula
Chilled green garlic soup, peas, almond, preserved lemon
Cooper's play on textures and flavors were thoughtful, like in this green garlic soup. Nothing felt out of place. The preserved lemon cut through the richness of the soup, which was light and airy on its own. The crispy almond shards added an additional level of complexity.
Soft cooked egg, crispy potato, salmon roe, bacon vinaigrette
Crispy, creamy, umami bomb. This bowl of puffed rice, nori, and poached egg was texturally complex and every crunchy bite was gloriously decadent. This was unmistakably the standout dish of the evening.
Spiced Duck, rhubarb, endive, black garlic
In contrast to the smaller portioned first courses, the mains were much heartier. This plate of perfectly cooked crispy-skin duck was paired with pickled rhubarb and a tangy black garlic puree, both of which complemented the duck in the most lovely way. Even though the confit duck hiding under the endive seemed a tad out of place, this was a cracking plate of food.
Pork, glazed yam, leek, nasturtium, preserved lemon
Frozen strawberry parfait, cabernet, chamomile
Milk chocolate custard, sorrel, basil
The refreshing basil granita hiding under the chocolate wafer provided the perfect relief from the richness of the mousse.
Croissants and Caviar's TL;DR:
At $70 for a 4-course tasting, the food and experience was well worth it. Cooper's dishes were, most importantly, balanced on the palate. I recall walking home with all smiles.