Dining

Classic Tables: Firefly

Sixteen years on, its light burns as strongly as ever
Firefly

Whether the markets climb or collapse, we'll still crave the immutable satisfaction of a meal at Noe Valley's Firefly.

Chef Brad Levy opened his New American restaurant on a residential stretch of 24th St. over 16 years ago, long before the food trend swept the city.

His food comforts but never condescends, and the price of a meal--$35 for three courses, Sun. through Thu.--is always a bargain.

The menu, under the watch of Levy and his chef de cuisine, Luc Prellwitz, changes regularly, and its influences flit from China to the Midwest to California. Recently, ahi ($24) was grilled to medium-rare and anchored on a fan of escarole and parsley-lemon salad. The flavors were familiar, the execution uncommonly fine.

Two menu stalwarts are the shrimp and scallop potstickers ($10.50), bound with shellfish mousseline--a dish so perfect "it still delights me to this day," Levy says--and the so-called yummy roasted Brussels sprouts ($9) with Parmesan and a restrained flick of white truffle oil. Only at Firefly can "yummy" be tossed about and not make us cringe.

Even dessert blindsides with its easygoing precision. Longtime Greens veteran Debbie Hughes is as adept with rice pudding ($8.50) with persimmons and pomegranate syrup as she is with buckwheat-pecan crêpes ($8.50) with brown-butter ice cream.

May the reassuring light of the namesake beetle above Firefly's entrance never flicker out.

Firefly, 4288 24th St. (at Douglass St.); 415-821-7652 or fireflyrestaurant.com

Firefly 4288 24th St. San Francisco CA 94114 415-821-7652
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