At Trace, Paul Piscopo is as good as ever
Spicy eggplant spread with rice crackers
Eating in the newly remodeled W Hotel restaurant--formerly called XYZ, now named Trace--is a little like dining aboard Virgin America, what with the all-white interior, purple lights and ambient house music filling the room.
With the new design came a refreshed menu from longtime chef Paul Piscopo, one of the few cooks who draw us to hotel dining. No burgers here, people.
Instead, meals begin with spiced eggplant spread, accompanied by irresistible, curry-spiced rice crackers ($7), or tender rings and tentacles of grilled Monterey squid served on a stew of heirloom tomatoes and peppers, the juices soaking into a piece of grilled sourdough ($12).
You could make a meal out of small plates: Braised pork shoulder with chanterelle mushrooms and tomatoes ($13) is ragù reconstructed; browned pâte de choux gnocchi underscore the dish's Italianate leanings.
Larger plates are equally well-crafted. We loved the California sea bass ($26), topped with crunchy breadcrumbs and accompanied by fresh shelling beans, broccoli spigarello (described by the server as "prehistoric broccoli") and house-made fennel sausage.
And while we may not be fans of the mod remodel, we consider it a means to an end: It reminded us to pay Mr. Piscopo a visit.
Trace at the W San Francisco, 181 Third St.; 415-817-7836 or trace-sf.com
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