Friday, December 8, 2017

Food Friday: Plaj

Plaj 333 Fulton Street San Francisco, CA 94102

When you hear "Swedish meatballs," your first thought really shouldn't be Ikea. And if it is, that's okay - I'm here to help change that. Cue Plaj (pronounced "play"), a San Francisco Scandinavian spot that you maybe haven't heard of yet. And if you have, then you're already ahead of the game! Plaj, tucked away inside the Inn at the Opera, is the perfect place to stop by before heading to the ballet or the symphony. Better yet, it's the perfect place to stop by if you're looking to spice things up and try something different. I don't know about you guys, but I haven't had a lot of Scandinavian cuisine in my life. (That is, aside from my favorite cake of all time - princess cake!) So, before Plaj, I didn't really know what to expect. If you're nodding along and thinking "me too," then this post is for you.

So, first thing's first. What is traditional Scandinavian food? The cuisine boasts lots of fish, some meaty game (think elk, reindeer, bear!), and lots of sides (potatoes, beets, cucumbers, etc.). Some dishes are baked, some are cured, and some are broiled. Popular items include meatballs, herring, potato dumplings and cured salmon to name a few. At Plaj, we had all of the above - game included.

Dinner started with cocktails - I tried the the Garden of Sweden, which was beautifully green, made with gin and absinthe. It was a little strong for my taste (this is coming from a wine gal, you guys), but I'm a baby when it comes to cocktails. Plaj has many other beautiful cocktails, which I do suggest giving a taste. After drinks, we dove right into the starters - the Beet Cured Gravlax (raw salmon and dill), Taste of Herring plate (served with curry apple and mustard dill), and a seasonal summer salad. I would eat each of the appetizers twice if I had to. The cured Gravlax tasted as beautiful as it looked. The Herring plate was fun to try due to all of the sides it came with. And the salad. Gosh the salad. It was light, refreshing, and the perfect starter.

Once we cleaned our plates, it was time for the mains. And boy, did we have them all. First up were the Swedish Meatballs. Again, these ain't your ikea meatballs. The meatballs came with potato puree, lingonberry, and pickled cucumbers. Basically, it tasted like the holidays and I wasn't mad at it.   We also had the Råraka & Caviar, which were dreamy little bits of potato røsti with caviar that you could squeeze atop. My unexpected favorite from the night was the Saddle of Elk. I am not really a game type of gal. I prefer traditional meats for their taste, but the elk was beautifully prepared and presented, as well as tender to the taste. Traditionally, this dish is made with reindeer (!!), but there was none of that to be found here in SF, ha. We rounded out dinner with traditional Princess Cake (also known as my absolute favorite cake) and a chocolate dessert Plaj calls "Northern Lights."

For those looking for something new, I highly recommend Plaj. It's cute, quiet, and certainly underrated. 

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