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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Contigo: First Impression

Is Contigo the next big thing? The future may be unknown, but as the magic eight ball says "signs point to yes." I was one of the few that got a preview of the restaurant and while my expectations were high, having eaten Brett Emerson's food a few times before, I was very impressed. Emerson creates food with big flavors and clearly uses the best ingredients he can find. The staff even in early days, are friendly, helpful and joyful.

The menu is divided into small plates "Pica-Pica" and large plates, "Platillos" and is inspired by the cuisine of Spain and Catalunya in particular. The vibe is San Francisco meets Barcelona. On the small plate menu, the Patatas Bravas were the crispiest I have ever had and the aillioli and salsa brava really whet my appetite. Even something as simple as Setas a la Plancha or grilled mushrooms were intensely flavored and delectable. This time of year nothing quite says comfort like a grilled cheese sandwich and Contigo's is a winner. Slices of salty jamon (Spanish ham) mingle with gooey queso de tetilla cheese and sweet membrillo (quince paste).

My favorite dish might have been Butter Beans with Pork Belly, Ears and Feet. Everything was tender and soul-satisfying and showed expert technique in coaxing the goodness out each of the cuts. The Trout with Baby Leeks was great too, so fresh tasting. Be sure to leave room for dessert. It's hard not to order churros and chocolate. The churros are particularly thin and crunchy, perfect for dipping, but as our waiter pointed out, even when the churros are gone, the chocolate is good for sipping too. Thankfully even when full, the noise level is kept in check. I know I'm biased, but I'm also excited to see this wonderful restaurant make such a terrific debut.

For more first impressions, check out the Bunrabs report and Thy Tran's report on Bay Area Bites.

1320 Castro St
San Francisco

Tuesday - Thursday 5:30 - 10 pm
Friday - Saturday 5:30 - 11 pm