Friday, January 28, 2011

Restaurant Review: Destino

Destino combines flavors from South America with Californian-style food. I bet it's the only place around here where you can find gnocchi made of yuca. Unfortunately this terrible photo I took on my BlackBerry camera does not accurately represent it. I need to find a new strategy for documenting good food in low-light conditions.

Service: Our waitress was friendly and conversational when we asked for her opinion on the dessert on the Dine About Town menu. She noted our water glasses every time she swung by our table, and made sure they were filled. She also remembered what I had ordered even after our plates were cleared away and asked me whether I'd liked it because it was her favorite dish there.

Food: We started off with chicken empanadas and an arepa with nopa vieja. I've had better empanadas elsewhere, but this was definitely the best arepa I've ever had. This was primarily because the arepa was stuffed with fontina cheese, which I'd never experienced with an arepa before, but also because the pulled pork shoulder piled on top of it was soft and full of flavor. This starter alone was good enough for me to want to come back, but then I had the gnocchi de yucca. Usually I find that even the best of potato gnocchi have quite a sturdy feel, and leave me feeling very heavy at the end of the meal; these had a much more airy feel, which I find to be the case whenever the yuca root is substituted for potatoes. They were rather large for gnocchi, but they were light and fluffy on the inside and crispy golden brown on the outside. The pool of thick, creamy huacatay pesto they were served in added an extra coating of flavor, and the whole dish basically blew me away.

Ambiance: Considering how delicious and creative the menu was, it felt like there was a mismatch with the decor. We sat in one of the red velvety booths along the perimeter, which was very comfortable but looked worn. There were some brightly-colored paintings and big mirrors on the walls but the dim yellow lighting made the place feel old rather than romantic. I took a peak at the adjoining Pisco Latin Lounge which looked a little more chic, but overall, I wish I could help them redecorate.

Rating: Strongly recommended.

Destino is located at 1815 Market Street, San Francisco, California 94103.

| Photo Credit: Me, on my worthless BlackBerry camera. |

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