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Frjtz on Valencia

A New Addition to the Mission

Don’t let the swank, Euro décor fool you. The food at this new Mission eatery, which replaced Amira, remains on par with the original restaurant, which means it’s nothing to rave about -- nor to sneeze at. Along with the thick-cut Belgian fries and creative dipping sauces for which Frjtz is known, the restaurant's crepes, salads, sandwiches and mussels add a much-needed mellow, inexpensive option to this restaurant-rich strip of Valencia. For example, until now, it's been hard to find a quality yet filling salad for under $10 in the area.

According to the menu, the frites ($3.25-$5.75) are cut on the thick side, blanched in oil, then fried in a hotter oil for maximum crispiness. While they’re served with their skins on and lightly salted in a paper cone, the parfait glass that supports the cone creates a steamy environment that eventually leaves the once-crisp fries soggy. However, the nearly 20 dipping sauces -- especially the tangy white truffle-artichoke ketchup -- that accompany the famous frites are imaginative and tasty enough that they should be bottled and sold on site.

Whether you like it or not, the modern, black-and-white Art Nouveau interior at the new branch of Frjtz on Valencia is a conversation starter. The bar stools with stockinged legs, wallpaper (which upon close inspection involves the silhouettes of two women), multiple chandeliers hanging from the high ceilings and eclectic art (by owner Santiago Rodriguez) are a 180-degree departure from the bohemian digs at its divey Hayes Valley sister -- sunny patio and all.

Couples can get cozy up front where plush pillows fill the windowseat and breakfast-in-bed-type trays serve as tables. Solo diners take one of the four stools overlooking the bar area, while groups gather at the tables lining the wall. And with a line that’s often out the door, there’s a chance that more tables might pop up towards the center of the dining room.

The portions are ample and every dish is named after a famous artist -- in line with this being a self-described “art teahouse". We tried the Chagall salad ($8.50), which had a generous amount of rosemary chicken atop mixed greens and tomatoes and tossed with herb-mustard vinaigrette. Of the 15 savory crepes, we sampled the Goya ($8.75) and the Duchamp ($8.75). The Goya had large chunks of rosemary chicken, pesto mayo, roasted peppers, onions and Swiss cheese, while the Duchamp had the same chunks of the rosemary chicken and Swiss cheese, but mushrooms and spinach were in the mix instead of peppers and onions.

Mussels ($11), which are the perfect accompaniment to the frites, are only served at the Mission location. There are six varieties that run the gamut from the Sukhothai (coconut milk, lemongrass and curry) to the Pompeii (Gorgonzola, lardoons, cream and wine). We opted for the Spiennes, with Hoegaarden beer, shallots, fennel and lemon zest.

In keeping with the Belgian theme, Frijtz offers an extensive beer selection on tap ($5.50-$6.50/pint), including Chimay, Hoegaarden and Lefe. Other, somewhat unexpected offerings include Veuve Clicquot and soju cocktails.

About a dozen sweet crepes ($5.50-$8.75) are on the menu for dessert, and they serve what looks to be a hearty brunch -- think Brazilian-style French toast and giant ginger pancakes -- on weekends.

It’s certainly a laid-back hangout with a whimsical décor (a la the Playboy mansion) that’s well suited for a casual weeknight bite.


No reservations.