April 17, 2009

Contigo Mi Amigo

Contigo (“with you”) may be one of my favorite Spanish phrases, and after visiting its Noe Valley location, it may be one of my top San Francisco go-to’s as well. The official name, Conitgo Kitchen + Cava, sums up the whole experience of dining in this adorable, bright, and homey eatery. It may be a bit pricey, but its fresh ingredients and incredibly attentive and understanding staff makes this restaurant a must for people with dietary needs.

Even though we intended to stop in for a glass of wine (and they have a gorgeous list of reds, whites, rose, and cava) we couldn’t help but stay for a few small tapas. A beautiful wood counter top, with a sushi-bar view of the entire kitchen, greets you as you enter. If a restaurant has seating near an open kitchen, I want to be as close as possible. There is nothing like watching culinary genius in action.

The only thing separating customer from chef are bowls of sliced stalks of asparagus, prepped jamon and queso sandwiches (called a “bikini”), bundles of green garlic, and other fresh-from the garden goodies. And speaking of garden, the restaurant boasts a feeling of green – both in color and practice – and they have their very own vegetables growing in the back.  The display of fresh ingredients is the best sign that a restaurant will be able to accommodate dietary requests and I felt incredibly confident that I would find something on the menu to satisfy my appetite.  Other counter-view delights included: a wood-fire stove and an incredibly large, red meat slicer – cured meat slicing action! Can’t eat it, but fun to look at.

While ordering, two waiters and the hostess come over to discuss my dietary restrictions and they all assured me that they could accommodate health needs and flavor desires.

Several menu items were easily transformed into sodium-free options:

the little gem salad
asparagus with sieved egg

beets with clementines

snap peas and garlic chips
chard and beet greens

Steelhead with leeks

I know this is going to be a restaurant that I can cultivate for the long term and am excited to return and try more of the delicious tapas. Contigo promises loads of Spanish flavor and no-sodium goodness.

Picture care of: In Praise of Sardines

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