Earlier this week I checked out Lazy Bear. Having missed the restaurant's initial incarnation as a pop-up supper club, I had no idea what to expect, and having been subjected to the usual deluge of hype, I'll admit that I was wary. But I shouldn't have been: both the space, which used to be home from Hi-Lo BBQ (and still smells like it), and the meal were excellent. Though I loved pretty much every one of the nine courses served by David Barzelay and his platoon of chefs, his obliquely titled Sunflower Parts (pictured above) continues to take up brain space two days later. Though it did indeed contain various plant permutations, including petals and seeds, the dish was oriented around a single, fat scallop that had been perfectly seared in cinnamon-infused brown butter. It was accompanied by pieces of persimmon, a sunchoke purée, and chips that tasted almost precisely like McDonald's French fries, which is a compliment. Eating it all was an altogether heavenly experience; properly cooked scallops are cause for celebration, as, I discovered, is the nutty flavor of sunflower petals.
Given the considerable temptation of its pastries, it's often easy to overlook the savory offerings at Craftsman & Wolves. But their quiche is a mighty wedge of seasonal beauty: the one I ate last night was endowed with butternut squash and asiago cheese, and encased in a sturdy but flakey crust. The filling was both firm and luxurious, a bit like a very high-end mattress but considerably more delicious. Served with a scattering of pickled beets and carrots, it was a full meal, a meaty man-sized protein bomb designed to fuel an evening of manual labor, or at least surviving marauding Giants fans.
Radio Africa & Kitchen is basically the textbook definition of "hidden gem," though given its prominent location on a corner in the Bayview, it's more or less hiding in plain sight. It deserves to get far more attention than it does: the chef and owner, Eskender Aseged, brings a great deal of finesse and nuance to his work, as he demonstrated to outstanding effect with a bowl of butternut squash soup. Embellished minimally with ras el hanout and a small thicket of fried shallots, it was sweet, earthy, warming, fragrant, and deeply, deeply satisfying. It continues to inspire happy orange thoughts almost a week later, as well as plans for a return trip.