First Look: Aliment Serves Comfort Food with a Twist in San Francisco

Braised short rib served with potato puree, spiced turnips and horseradish gremolata. [Photographs: Tory Putnam]

Aliment opened its doors a few weeks ago in Nob Hill, just a couple of blocks from Union Square. Eric Rud, formerly with Nob Hill Grille and part of the local food truck scene, is the restaurant's managing partner and chef. Matthew Sullivan joins as co-chef, bringing experience from Bottle Cap and Blue Plate.

Located just a block away from the city's iconic cable cars, the restaurant hopes to attract tourists and neighbors alike. Aliment is situated between a high-end restaurant in one direction and a brewpub in the other, placement Rud finds fitting: "We don't really consider ourselves fine dining, but we're not a diner either." Both the space and the menu reflect upmarket comfort.

The menu features primarily American cuisine with subtle twists, like the heaping pile of brussel sprouts finished with caramel fish sauce and sesame seeds, and seared diver scallops with grilled nectarine and pea shoots. Although mains are mostly meat-centric, take note of the homemade smoked gnocchi with English peas and seasonal 'shrooms (the herb spaetzle is from scratch too). Rud says they plan to expand the menu slightly, adding a few simple items like a cheese board.

Bar area

The space seats 49, with spacious booths lining one side of the restaurant and a balcony of tables above. A handful of stools line a sleek marble bar at the window that opens up to Bush Street, ideal for fog-free San Francisco evenings. Dining is also available at the bar, where light marble meets a wooden backdrop, displaying bottles from the wine list. Beer is on tap, including the Imperial IPA from Pacific Brewing Labratory, a local brewery that got its start in brewing in Chef Sullivan's basement.

Aliment is currently open for dinner on Sunday-Wednesday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Thursday-Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Rud says they're considering pushing back the hours, so it can be a place for the food industry crowd to gather after work, something he believes is lacking in San Francisco. On August 10 the restaurant started serving brunch as well, on weekends from 10am-3pm. Keep an eye out for the fried chicken and waffle balls, as well as their take on a continental breakfast.