I like restaurants with white table linens, where the staff folds your napkin back into neat triangles when you get up and replenish your pita basket without you having to ask. Paul K Restaurant in Hayes Valley has all of this, along with a special weekly menu and the honor of being a Michelin-recommended restaurant.
Every week, chef Shawn Bayless composes a new seasonal menu. Although several key ingredients like lamb and fish appear on the menu of the fresh Mediterranean restaurant, their presentation is varied. There is also a new soup offered daily.
One of my favorite things at Mediterranean restaurants is the mezze platter, which allow you to sample several items at once. If the combination suits me, I like to order this as my main course. On a recent visit to Paul K, I ordered the platter with lamb riblets and kebabs, served with baba ganoush, cucumber salada, cubed feta, olives and garlic yogurt. The riblets came in a sweet pomegranate sauce which was very different than the mint or rosemary I typically see with lamb.
We also ordered the dungeness crab fondue, pan seared halibut and potato-leek soup. The fondue had cheese and shredded crab meat, paired with grilled bread. The portion of halibut was very generous and was particularly tender and buttery. The soup was creamy with the homey taste of potatoes.
I also, of course, appreciated the aforementioned pita basket. It was served with hummus which too was constantly replenished.
Entrees are around $22 but Paul K is often featured on local discount sites. It is also part of Dine About Town 2011.
199 Gough Street at Oak Street
Photo credit: Emilia Varshavsky