Mijote exterior
Photo by Maria Ascarrunz.

Mijoté (“simmering” in French) is the brainchild of Chef Kosuke Tada, and it has likely simmered in his being for some time. Chef Tada studied French cuisine in Osaka, Japan, and has cooked in many parts of Europe and Japan, but now he is ours (after a five-year pop-up at his Bistro Kosuke in Oakland). 

His attention to place, this place, will likely inform his simple, refined dishes. Mijoté only opened in mid-April, but it already feels of this place. It sits in the long-shuttered American Grilled Cheese Kitchen locale, 2400 Harrison St., where it features an almost-sushi-bar feeling, with muted colors, airiness, and light, seemingly personal touches (an Opera Comique poster on one wall, colored bottles filtering sunshine on the windowsill, old cookbooks in the inset of one wall, concert posters from The Study and Starline Social Club).  Those seated at the bar can watch Tada and his cooks finish the dishes that come from the kitchen, like the seared lamb on our menu that night. 

The menu is simplicity itself: Amuse-bouche; a four-course prix fixe, which includes dessert; and an optional cheese course ($10 supplement), for $82 per person. C’est tout; there are no other choices, and that suited us just fine.

Amuse-bouche of the day: Carrot soup.

Carrot soup starter.

Light, creamy, elegant, and ever-so-slightly sweet. One might think, for a second, “this could maybe use a little more seasoning,” but then one quickly becomes aware of the essential “carrotness” of the dish, and is grateful that he left it so simple and pure.

First course: Yellowtail, golden beet, turmeric

Yellowtail, golden beet, turmeric.

A rickety tower of thinly sliced golden beets and sweet/tart nectarines, supporting salt-cured and seared yellowtail, with a salsa verde made of parsley, celery, and broccoli flowers, all resting in a pool of turmeric cream. The salty sea bite of the fish played smoothly with the fruit and beets, with the turmeric giving only a whiff of itself, barely a hint, just enough to let you know it was there. This was a dish that had so many elements, it risked being too busy, but never came close. Each element was in harmony with the others, and yet every bite was a new surprise.

Second course: Tokyo turnip, lemon, bottarga.

Tokyo turnip, lemon, bottarga, Josey Baker Bread.

Earthy sweet turnips, roasted lemon, brown butter sabayon, and a scant shaving of bottarga.  For me, this dish almost played as a dessert; so delicately sweet, with the richness of the browned butter blanketing all. The bottarga gave just a hint of savory brine, almost unnoticeable, like a ghostly memory at the back of your palate. The crusty bread was perfect for our indelicate swabbing of every bit of the sauce from our plates.

Third course: Lamb loin, cherry, pistachio.

Lamb loin, cherry, pistachio.

The lamb was divine: Rosy-pink, perfectly seared, and just enough luscious fat to be decadent, but the accouterments did not play second fiddle here.  A roasted strawberry, the smokiness of the sweet broccoli and its pesto jus, an errant cherry, and a bit of tarragon, all made the dish complete, whole. 

Cheese course:

Cheese course.

The cheese of the day, Ameribella, is a smoked, unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese from Indiana. It was served with a roasted pear puree and more of Josey Baker’s warm, toasted sourdough bread. A lovely cheese, mildly milky, with a bit of a pleasant funk, tamed by the pear. I’d almost have wanted to end it here, as we were quite full by then, but we’re glad we didn’t.

Final course, dessert: Nectarine, saffron, crema catalana.

Nectarine, saffron, crema catalana.

The nectarines were deeply sweet (roasted, I believe), served over an almond crumble, saffron ice cream, crema catalana, and topped with a tuille made of golden beet. The tuille tasted of a deliciously light sugar cookie, and again, as with all of Chef Tada’s sauces and creams, the saffron only whispered from the dish.  

The wines are all natural, California and French mostly, with unlikely names like Who Goes There? and Tout Bu or Not Tout Bu?  Still celebrating my sister’s birthday, we started out with a glass of the cava U each, a sparkling xarel-lo from Catalunya, and then moved on to the Who Goes There?, a California sauvignon blanc unlike any we’d ever had, with a roundness and richness, and a pale orange hue from the skins of the grapes.  I finished with the Tout Bu or not Tout Bu?, a light Languedoc-Roussillon red. These are interesting wines, of a different stripe, and I look forward to trying more of them at the parklet wine bar Chef Tada envisions.

Service across the board was warm, knowledgeable, and efficient, and we were informed that the menu changes daily, so we should be sure to come back.  No need to tell us twice.  Mijoté feels like a special occasion (and it is, don’t get me wrong; it’s no place to be thrifty), but it also has a homey, neighborly vibe, like a good neighbor who serves you beautifully prepared food in his cool apartment with some fun wines.

While I wouldn’t call Mijoté French, calling it California cuisine is also misleading.  Sure, everything is locally sourced and farm-fresh, and Chef Tada’s way with sauces and creams highlights his French pedigree and training.  Don’t worry too much about figuring it out.  Just go.

Mijoté
2400 Harrison St.
San Francisco, CA 94110

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