What better occasion than a birthday to splurge a little? With mine around the corner, M started asking about new places I’d like to try, and as I found that 1760‘s bold restaurant design and intriguing list of ever-changing shared plates caught my eye whenever I was walking on Polk Street, we made reservations for the big day.
Upon arrival, I felt welcome; in newer, trendy places around town, the vibe can be reserved, even chilly, but this wasn’t the case at 1760. The hostess and servers’ smiles were genuine, and they were happy to share menu suggestions or decode unfamiliar words on the menu. (Even after two years of volunteering at the Ferry Plaza’s Farmer’s Market, the variety of produce available in California seems endless: kalamansi, or calamansi fruit, native to the Philippines but grown in increasing numbers around California were new to me, as was the purple yam known as ube.)
With the understanding that all plates were intended to be shared, family-style, and ranged on the menu from lightest to most filling, we kicked off our selections with the hamachi, or yellowtail, crudo. Hamachi is a heartier white fish, and the accents of shichimi togarashi (a Japanese seven-spice combination featuring citrus zest, black sesame, chilies, and peppercorns) and bright serrano chilies were tasty and didn’t overwhelm the fish’s flavour.
Starting with this first dish, and carrying throughout the meal, the presentation of each dish was thoughtful and elegant – never before have I turned over the plates in a restaurant with curious covetousness to discover who made them (and hope for some of my own one day.) This, combined with the overhead lighting style, made for a memorable presentation, especially with the Intermezzo dessert, which appeared as a birthday surprise near the end of the night like a delicate – and delicious – jewel of tart-sweet cranberry-wine sorbet perched on perfect cubes of poached pear, and possibly beets, which sounds like an odd pairing, but the beets’ earthiness provided an interesting contrast still in balance with the rest of the dish.
Still, the dessert highlight had to be the milk chocolate ganache, which is presented as a surrealist canvas with the ganache itself corkscrewing improbably across the plate, into and around pools and puddles of bourbon caramel and toasted, melty marshmallow. There is no picture, because M and I set in immediately to turn the plate from surrealist to spotless. I’ve heard milk chocolate dismissed by friends and peers as childish, as they now prefer deep, dark chocolate, but the ganache was smooth, rich, and comforting, daring even the most discerning of diners to dive in with joy. From the number of ganache swirls I saw leaving the kitchen, it seemed a potent temptation.
The duck sandwich, with its Asian-influenced slaw was also tasty – I remarked to M that I would be happy to return on another, somewhat less decadent day, for it and a bowl of the fingerling potatoes, roasted to perfection and studded with peanuts, cilantro, and charred avocado. I was surprised that the duck had been formed into more of a burger-like patty than looser pieces akin to a pulled pork sandwich, so the texture wasn’t quite what I was seeking.
Regardless, paired with the aioli, its toasted bun, and the crisp-smoky-fresh slaw, the duck marked a tasty, hearty conclusion to our savoury dishes, which also included 1760’s spin on pork sisig, which M devoured with alacrity and declared his favourite dish of the night. Somewhat dangerously, 7×7 snagged the sisig recipe from chef Carl Foronda for their Secret Recipe series, so I may try to recreate its rich, bright flavours at home.
…Now to track down some calamansi of my own, which is featured in the pork’s marinade.
Wish me luck! (Or see me at the Stirring Hour?)