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Fillmore Grill

Fillmore Grill Warms Up the Neighborhood

It's about time a neighborhood joint moved into the Fillmore scene. With the aptly-named Fillmore Grill on the quiet corner of Fillmore and Clay, Albert Rainier has transformed the former space of La Posada Mexican restaurant into a polished yet casual bistro offering Northern Italian-inspired Californian fare.

From the high ceilings to the cream and orange-red walls to the dark wood floors, the handsome dining room exudes a warm and welcome feel. Fun, striped banquettes and intimate booths fit the mood whether you're out with a group or impressing a date. And for those who don't want to miss the game or latest reality show, there's always the snug bar outfitted with a flat-screen TV. Barely two months old, this spot already attracts the bustling after-work crowd and local clientele.

The short, and very reasonably priced, menu displays a good balance of dishes with a spin on what could've been average fare.

The seafood romesco ($8.75) is surely the highlight of the appetizers and- dare we say- the whole menu. Their version blends perfectly steamed shrimp, scallops and mussels into a chipotle-infused garlicky-tomato broth that is to die for! Double-order this one as an entré. Gnocchi in a Montasio cheese sauce ($10.75) sounds heavy, but tastes deceivingly light and delicate, dressed with proscuitto and a sprinkling of poppy seeds.

The excellent grilled NY strip steak, cooked to a perfect medium-rare, is accompanied by delectable mashed potatoes whipped up with sour cream. The osso buco ($14.75) is another crowd-pleaser, the tender braised veal in a robust jus. The osso buco expert in our party loved it. The seared halibut ($15.75) and Sonoma Roasted Chicken ($14.75) need work, both exhibiting good flavor but were unfortunately dry and overcooked. Extra side dishes (all $2.75 each) are always a good thing. The parsley-flecked homemade fries with chipotle aioli are good finger food for a group. And the sautéed spinach is tasty but lacking in presentation.

We somehow forced room for dessert, ordering the bourbon crème caramel with chocolate sauce and bananas. The crème was a little disappointing, not as delicate as ones tried at other restaurants, but the combination of the sauce, bananas, and crushed toffee brittle made up for it.

The well-priced wine list covers a wide selection from California, Italy, France, and many other regions. The Loiner Gruner Veltliner ($28) from Austria is an excellent choice for a white. Interesting reds include the Casa Lapostolle merlot ($24) from Chile and the Lorinon Rioja ($23) from Spain. Wine may also be ordered by the glass, quarter carafe, and half carafe.

Despite a few inconsistencies, Fillmore Grill is off to a great start, and has quickly developed a long list of regulars including myself and my dining companions. A little more attention to presentation and detail on the menu, and it will be a sure-fire neighborhood hit.

Image credit: Photograph by Amanda Chen.