It's started to get a little chilly here in San Francisco. Since I have no idea what the weather patterns are supposed to be this time of year, it feels perfectly OK, kind of like early fall days in New England. It seems only natural to take eating cues from climactic change, and this week my thoughts are on French onion soup, lentils with sausage, braised things and sauteed greens.
Last night we went to Chez Maman, a sweet, tiny restaurant on 18th Street in Potrero Hill. It's not a sleeper or a well-kept secret, so I'm sure I'm not telling many people something that they don't already know. Run by the same folks behind Chez Papa, the larger, fancier restaurant two doors down, Chez Maman serves a small menu of French bistro-y items, from croque monsieurs (or madame's) on sweet bread that reminds me of Cuban sandwiches, to a merguez sausage panini, to great salads--particularly the endive salad, which combines chopped endive with cubed pears, candied walnuts and roquefort and the frisee salad, that Parisian classic of frisee topped with bacon and a poached egg.
The restaurant has two tiny tables in the window and a long bar that faces the open kitchen. Small wine and dessert lists round out the dinner offerings, which also include, oddly, quesadillas, and crepes. I must also mention their superior shoestring fries, served with a bright and garlicky aioli. These little potato toothpicks rival the fries at Universal Cafe (Universal mayb have a slight lead) and are quite addictive.