SF: Modern Moroccan at Aziza
My tale of Aziza began last year when I tried to go. We couldn’t get reservations so we attempted to walk in. The wait would be more than an hour. Hungry and defeated, we went to a nearby hot pot place.
I kept hearing how great it was though and on my last SF trip, we made reservations well in advance and was welcomed to the restaurant. It wasn’t as busy though it was also a Saturday night. I was puzzled why there were empty tables. Could the SF food scene have shifted in a year? I was slightly worried.
I needn’t be so worried though after my first sip of the refined lentil soup with dates and celery.
I love lentil soup and always try to get it if I see it on the menu. I expect a Moroccan restaurant to be able to make a proper soup but what we got was even beyond that expectation. It was hearty yet delicate. The humble lentils were transformed into something savory and comforting while maintaining a high class polish.
We tried a couple of cocktails. The cocktail menu was divided into spirits categories with a drink listed for each type. My friend ordered the gin drink (gin, celery, sage, agave, mango, coconut water, basil seeds, lavender, orange blossom honey). I was wary of putting all those ingredients in a drink but it turned out to be tasty. It was in fact tastier than my drink. I had ordered the rye cocktail with red bell pepper, Bonal and Cocchi Americano. I suppose I was looking for a Blood Sugar Sex Magic, my favorite bell pepper cocktail.
My friend wanted to get the cheese and I’m glad we did. The soft sheep’s cheese was really nice. They do not serve this with bread or crackers so if you would like that, it’s an extra charge.
I’m always open to mackerel and this artfully arranged plate had so many borage flowers, I wondered if they grew their own like Playa did in L.A. It was a nice dish until I had a bit of the next course, the big fin squid.
I like octopus. I like squid. I just like the little tentacle-y bits. So of course I wanted to get the big fin squid. It arrived finally scored and so damn tender, I had to keep eating and eating just to make sure. Next time I’m ordering my own plate of it.
We also decided to get the cous cous. It was lovely with vegetables. I really liked the figs and squash in it.
I couldn’t imagine a Moroccan meal with basteeya (also spelled bisteeya, pastilla, bastilla). The flaky pastry is filled with savory meat, nuts and raisins and dusted with powdered sugar. For those who love the salty-sweet combination, this is a must-have. Aziza made one with duck confit and the meat pie was absolutely perfect.
Look at that gorgeous interior. Although it may seem like a small portion, it’s really completely filled with duck and the two of us barely finished it. Of course, we did have quite a few other dishes.
We were so full, we didn’t try dessert but Aziza was kind to send petit fours. The cream puffs were delicate and a great way to keep things light and sweet.
I had a great time chatting with one of the bartenders who came by our table. We had asked for the bar manager but they were busy. It was fun to compare the SF and LA cocktail experiences for he recently visited LA.
The next time I go to Aziza, I would love to do the tasting menu. Then again, I’d like to sit at the bar too and watch them work their magic.
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