Aaron London grew up in Sonoma County, got his start washing dishes at a local Mexican restaurant, and eventually fell under the spell of Thomas Keller (via The French Laundry Cookbook), which inspired him to enroll in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. After working at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, “something clicked,” he told Bon Appetit. “I learned to taste terroir in vegetables.”
Fast forward a few years and London, who now presides over the kitchen at Al’s Place, his SF Mission District restaurant specializing in vegetables in all their glory, is the talk of the town. Bon Appetit named it the Top Restaurant of 2015, tables are booked two months in advance, and Michelin gave it a star. Vegetables take center stage on the menu (meat is a “side”); clearly London is onto something.
The shoestring-budget interiors, designed by London himself, are as fresh and uncontrived as the menu. Join us for a look.
Photography courtesy of Al’s Place unless otherwise noted.
Above: The facade is painted in two shades of vibrant blue.
Above: The original tiled floors got a coat of pale green paint and the shelving is made from low-cost plywood. The one luxe note? The Prouve dining chairs.
Above: A mise en place scene of herbs and vegetables.
Above: A border of subway tiles encircles the dining area. The vibe is fresh and bright, with a palette of pastels punctuated by touches of red.
Above: Al’s recently opened an outdoor dining area.
Check out Rintaro, a nearby Japanese restaurant also named to Bon Appetit’s 2015 Top 10 list.