Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Americana Grill Restaurant Review

I've enjoyed some very special dinners lately, but it was an unpretentious lunch at Americana Grill that I’m most excited to tell you about. But first, a little background. It was several years ago when I first discovered Broken Record, a restaurant in the back of a dive bar in the Excelsior, a part of the city so far off the beaten track that you have to get on the freeway to get there. The kitchen was run by James Moisey and Shane LaValley. Their food seemed like pub grub on the surface but it was so much more than that. There were burgers, sandwiches, salads and some Southern things like crawfish and grits, buttery biscuits and mac and cheese. They also served a walnut pie that I miss to this day. The food was inexpensive and sometimes a little over the top, like a burger with bacon ground into the mix, but always good. 

Chef James Moisey
Chef James Moisey at Americana Grill
The two chefs went on to great success at Rickybobby in the lower Haight for three years. And then their rent went up by 50% and the restaurant closed. Could they have raised the prices? Probably. But affordability was part of the charm.

So I was excited to learn that James Moisey was cooking again, this time at Americana Grill. Frankly I never heard of the place and it’s so non-descript it is easy to miss, but it’s in a stretch of Balboa that is becoming a culinary destination with outstanding places like Marla Bakery and Restaurant up the block and Cassava across the street. When I stopped in I asked the chef what I should order, and he sheepishly said, "everything" because it was all his menu and all good, and you know what? He was right. Our party of four ordered half orders of a number of dishes just so we could try more things and there was nothing I wouldn't order again. Please keep that in mind when looking at some of the photos.

First up the Country Biscuit Plate with sausage gravy, fried eggs on a crumbly buttermilk biscuit. A comforting, satisfying dish if there ever was one. 

Next the Pork Fries, this is the dish that put Moisey on the map. pulled pork, waffle fries, house cheese sauce, Buffalo sauce and scallions. It’s been described as the American version of nachos and it’s just as addictively good at once crunchy, creamy, rich and gooey.

The Louie Salad has large juicy shrimp (not a pile of often mushy bay shrimp) over a bed of crisp iceberg lettuce and lots of fresh vegetables, cherry tomatoes, carrots, celery, cucumber, plus the traditional hard boiled egg and thousand island dressing. The salad is a hearty main dish, bursting with flavor. 

The Roasted Eggplant Lasanga has layers of mushrooms and peppers in addition to eggplant along with a bright tomato sauce and just a dollop of house ricotta and fresh basil. It's lighter than the usual lasagna but just as good if not better.

The Shrimp Fra Diavolo is another winner, served over polenta with a fiery lobster broth, parmesan and fried basil leaves. 
Bread Pudding French Toast

The piece de resistance might be the Bread Pudding French Toast with strawberries, maple syrup and whipped cream. Order this for breakfast or for dessert. It’s the most custardy French toast I’ve ever had, more bread pudding than French toast so lusciously soft and creamy. 

With only one dish over $15, the prices here are very affordable. You’ll find lots of the old favorites from Moisey's prior gigs and the service couldn’t be more accommodating and friendly. There’s an all-day menu, so come whenever you’re hungry and order whatever makes you happy, because this is happy food. 

Note: The website is not up to date, but you can find them on Facebook or check out the menu.

Americana Grill
3532 Balboa St @ 36th Ave. 
San Francisco CA

Open everyday except Tuesday from 10 am - 3 pm and 5 pm - 10 pm