Chef/Owner: Melissa Perello
Cuisine: California seasonal
The Buzz: Star chef Melissa Perello is back. She launched her long-awaited solo venture, Frances in December in a simple, stylish storefront in the Castro. It’s a small place, and with her reputation, quickly became the hardest reservation in San Francisco. The atmosphere is casual; everything on the menu is under $25. “It’s the food that is really upscale,” says Michael Bauer, critic and editor for the San Francisco Chronicle. The menu is market-driven, Northern-California style. “She always has these small plates, four or five appetizers, four main courses, like applewood smoked bacon beignets and frites made out of chickpeas, with insides like custard.” But Perello’s innovation doesn’t stop with the food. Frances sells wine by the ounce. The sommelier brings the wine in kegs from Santa Barbara, offering two hand-blended choices: red and white. You only pay for what you drink, at a buck an ounce, marked against the carafe.