A Tale of Two Panisses
A humble chickpea fritter is poised for a revival
The chickpea fritters at Frances
In this part of the country, the word panisse is usually modified by chez.
But in the South of France, panisse has an altogether different connotation, referring instead to rectangular fritters made from chickpea flour, which are typically served alongside cold glasses of rosé.
In the Bay Area, an introduction to these snacks came by way of the restaurant Frances. They were on Melissa Perello's opening menu, listed under the bouchées, or "bites," section, and were so beloved that they have remained there since. Custardy within, with a crisp exterior, Perello serves them ($6.50) with wedges of lemon and aioli, the flavor of which changes occasionally.
At Bouche, a new restaurant in the former Bar Crudo space on Bush Street, Alsatian chef Nicolas Borzee offers panisses as a side dish ($6), or as a snack alongside a glass from the all-French wine list. Served with a spicy tomato condiment, it's a French take on fries and ketchup.
Panisses aren't set to dethrone the king of fried starch, and you're not going to find them on the menu at In-N-Out anytime soon. But with prime rosé season right around the corner, it's time to get acquainted.
Frances, 3870 17th St. (at Pond St.); 415-621-3870 or frances-sf.com; Bouche, 603 Bush St. (at Stockton St.); 415-956-0396 or bouchesf.com
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