(Top Chef) Casey Thompson’s Aveline

Chef-Casey-Thompson
Photo credit Chef Casey Thompson

I am a big fan of Top Chef. I am always curious to see how the cheftestants manage their post Top Chef lives. Just by observation it is very easy to quickly identify the chefs that love the spotlight and those who would rather have their food speak for them. I am not saying one type is better than the other. Just different.

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Chef Casey Thompson is in the second group. She was Season 3’s Fan favorite and finished in the top 3. But post-Top Chef she took her time figuring out her next step. I have a really good friend who has a really good friend that is really good friends with Casey. I know. That is a lot of degrees. But having that connection allowed me to keep up a with what Casey was doing. She is a Texas native but has made Napa her home. She has spent the last several years honing her craft out there in the wine country and like good wine, it is worth the wait.

Chef-Casey-Thompson-Photo-Credit_h2medialabs
Photo credit: h2medialabs

Casey partnered with the Hotel Warwick in San Francisco for her restaurant. It is right across the street from Curran Theatre, a perfect spot for an established theatre crowd. But the decision wasn’t just a “yes” and she moved in. Nope. Her new restaurant, Aveline (the name a combo of Casey’s 2 grandmothers names) was a very long time coming.

Aveline San Francisco
Photo credit Citrus & Cedars

The restaurant is actually a former convenience store that was next door to the hotel. The creation of the restaurant was part of a very large renovation that Hotel Warwick undertook which included the fabulous bar, just relaunched as well, The European.

Casey created the food for both venues. And two weeks after Aveline opened, my friend (who is friends with the friends who’s friends with Casey, you still with me?) and I had dinner to check it out.

The-European-Bar-SF

We started in the bar which is absolutely gorgeous. The drink menu is very cool. Really great European classics with modern twists. I didn’t eat anything but I had serious menu envy and I want to go back just for the bar bites. I had the bar’s namesake The European which is Campari, grapefruit, lemon and seltzer – delish! Having just come back from Italy, it was perfect.

We moved to Aveline which is next door through the beautifully redone Hotel Warwick lobby. We sat down, ordered a glass of wine and perused the menu. We decided right away that we were all-in. Three courses, two palate cleaners and dessert!

Aveline San Francisco

We shared everything so we could get of taste of most of the menu. Here is what we had:

An amuse bouche of really light corn soup. It had a perfectly popped piece of popcorn on it as a garnish.

Aveline-San-Francisco-Corn-Amuse

The meal started and we had goat’s milk custard with tiny cucumbers, strawberry, black tahini and trout roe.

Aveline-San-Francisco-Goat-Custard

And crab macarons served a la français in a box that could have come from Ladurée. Looks aside, it is the best crab cake I have EVER had. I took a couple of photos that didn’t turn out great, the best one I have seen is this one:

Aveline San Francisco Crab Macarons
Photo credit: The Bold Italic

The first palette cleanse was ricotta sorbet with peach and mint.

Then came a yolk beignet – very interesting – with wagyu beef, lardo and trotter sauce. When you cut into it, there was a perfectly cooked egg inside (and you know how I feel about eggs!).

Aveline-San-Francisco-Yolk-Beignet

And red abalone, ear mushroom, succulents, pepperoni and sea froth. (Apologies, it started getting darker and darker in the restaurant – food blogger’s nightmare!)

The second (and final) palette cleanser was lemon meringue on a cucumber granita.

We watched Chef Casey at work between courses.

Lastly came fried chicken with kimchi powder, pickled vegetables and red pepper. We also had Campagnelle pasta with pig cheek, smoked yogurt and cracklin, it was getting too dark and the dish was monotone white so we skipped it!

Aveline-San-Francisco-Fried-Chicken

For dessert we shared a really fun dish called Batter which was a dark chocolate (batter), cashews and hazelnut dust served in a big mixing bowl with a big wooden spoon. Just like Mom used to do! I tried a photo with flash so that I could try to capture they whimsical nature. This was before we started eating.

Aveline-San-Francisco-Batter-Dessert
The desserts are designed by Kaley Laird who Casey met in the Napa area. Casey’s sous-chef is Blake Askew who she worked with in her Texas days. Together they make a powerhouse team!

Aveline-San-Francisco-Team
Photo credit: Aveline

The meal was really good. A few things I didn’t love, but overall really delicious. Two weeks into any restaurant opening and there is still some working out of the kinks, so I am anxious to go back and eat there again if for nothing else, I must have those crab cakes again.

I think Casey’s patience and planning has paid off. Her debut restaurant is going to be a huge success. I don’t know Casey personally, but I feel awfully darn proud of her!

You too must try Aveline! It is in the Union Square area right across from the Curran Theatre, definitely put this on your places to eat if you are visiting San Francisco. Natives, you need to knock it off the list, check it out at least once, but I am sure you will go back more often!

Aveline
490 Geary Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

Groupon-City-GuideIn addition to this post, I got to interview Casey for the Groupon San Francisco City Guide. Please check out what more she has to say about Aveline and some of her favorite spots to eat in the city. (Thanks to her PR team who helped facilitate the interviews as Casey’s schedule has been insane!)

How about you? Have you eaten in a Top Chef restaurant? What do you think about my meal? Was there something that sticks out that you must try when you visit? Do tell!

62 Comments

  1. Shannon
    July 24, 2014

    I love the history behind the restaurant. What lovely food!!!

    Reply
  2. Katie @ Domestiphobia
    July 25, 2014

    The more I read your blog, the more I’m sure I belong in northern California. (When I can’t be in Europe, that is.) 😉 Love the decor of that restaurant and the menu looks incredible!!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      July 25, 2014

      @Katie, I was really impressed and you should move here!

      Reply
  3. Cami
    July 25, 2014

    The decor is beautiful. The food doesn’t look bad either :).

    Reply
  4. Derek B.
    July 29, 2014

    This was a dinner years in the making! I can’t wait to go back too and insist we check out bar bites next!

    Reply
  5. katie h
    July 30, 2014

    That place is beautiful! And the food looks delicious!

    Reply
  6. Jenn Erin
    October 5, 2014

    Wow wow wow! I love the decor of the place, but most importantly, I love how delicious everything looks! The goat’s milk custard is so colourful and appetizing!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 5, 2014

      @Jenn, Casey is very creative, her food is very interesting to look at even before you eat it!

      Reply
  7. Sharon
    October 14, 2014

    Oh my gosh, that food looks De-LISH! I’ve only been to San Francisco once, but if I ever go again, I’m definitely looking up Aveline!!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 16, 2014

      @Sharon, where did you visit while you were here?

      Reply
  8. Tammi
    October 14, 2014

    Great post and amazing photos. The food looks fantastic. The wonderful thing about living in NorCal is the fresh foods and wine. Great job!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 16, 2014

      @Tammi, so lucky and blessed, this region is incredible!

      Reply
  9. Annie | MontgomeryFest
    October 14, 2014

    oh my! this looks amazing! I’ll definitely have to try it!

    Reply
  10. Candace
    October 14, 2014

    Gorgeous and delicious looking. I love SF!

    Reply
  11. karissa
    October 14, 2014

    We love Top Chef. I think it is so cool you went to Casey’s restaurant.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 16, 2014

      @Karissa, I have been to a couple of Top Chef places, this is one of my favs.

      Reply
  12. Lindsay
    October 14, 2014

    OOO I really like the look of that restaurant! The tables and chair are so pretty 🙂

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 16, 2014

      @Lindsay, it is a beautiful space.

      Reply
  13. CAROLINE CIENER
    October 14, 2014

    THIS IS SUCH A COOL OPPORTUNITY! THAT FOOD LOOKS AMAZING!

    Reply
  14. Fi
    October 14, 2014

    Mouth-watering looking food, I love the look of that sorbet to cleanse the palette.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 16, 2014

      @Fi, it was perfect!

      Reply
  15. Carolann
    October 14, 2014

    Wow. What a great review! I too am a fan of the show AND of food in general and while San Francisco is a long ways away for me right now, this review has made sure I won’t soon forget this restaurant. I’ll be sure to stop in when I make it to the area!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 16, 2014

      @Carolann, where are you at? There are Top Chef chefs all over, a lot of them with restaurants!

      Reply
  16. Myrabev
    October 14, 2014

    It’s 9pm and I am hungry which is pretty surprising as I never eat at night, the food looks amazing. Love the story behind the restaurant and I followed you on the friend of a friend of a friend lol

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 16, 2014

      @Myrabev, that is the danger with reading food blogs – no matter what time of day! It is a hazard!

      Reply
  17. Frenchell
    October 14, 2014

    holy crap! You gotta place a warning before just throwing pictures of food out like that! I just had a foodgasm. It’s looks so incredible. I need this in my life right now!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 16, 2014

      @Frenchell, I know I often experience the same dilemma when reading other food blogs!

      Reply
  18. Ruthy T. (@DiscoveryStreet)
    October 14, 2014

    ok, i’m wiping the drool off my face. crab macaroons?! sounds soooooooooooo good!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 16, 2014

      @Ruthy, they were outrageously good!

      Reply
  19. Cori Benson
    October 14, 2014

    Yummy! Those dishes look delicious!

    Reply
  20. Nancy
    October 14, 2014

    Lovely colours in the restaurant!

    Reply
  21. Kendall
    October 14, 2014

    Yum everything looks delicious! What a gorgeous hotel!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 16, 2014

      Kendall, it was and it is beautiful inside!

      Reply
  22. Heather
    October 14, 2014

    That place is gorgeous and WOW! That food looks AMAZING!

    Reply
  23. estherjulee
    October 14, 2014

    food looks really yummy! i’d love to try this place. i feel like food in SF is just so much better than a lot of other cities. it’s also really interesting that one of the dishes uses kimchi powder, and i feel like kimchi is being used a lot lately.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 16, 2014

      @Esther, the food scene is definitely awesome here! And I am noticing a lot of kimchi in many dishes these days!

      Reply
  24. Girl in Beta
    October 14, 2014

    How absolutely beautiful. I can’t even imagine how all of this tasted.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 16, 2014

      @GirlinBeta, it was so good, but I could have made a meal with just the crab cakes!

      Reply
  25. Katie Matthews
    October 15, 2014

    All the food looks absolutely beautiful and I love how the place is furnished! The Goats Milk Custard looks so stunning. What an amazingly talented woman!

    Katie <3

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 16, 2014

      @Katie, it is a great space and the food is very inventive!

      Reply
  26. Rebekah
    October 15, 2014

    Oh my gosh those crab macarons look amazing! Hard to believe that place used to be a convenience store!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 16, 2014

      @Rebekah, they are amazeballs!

      Reply
  27. ashley
    October 15, 2014

    YUM! This place looks fantastic.

    Reply
  28. Brenda
    October 15, 2014

    Yum! Those crab macaroons look amazing!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 16, 2014

      @Brenda, they were absolutely to die for. You know how awesome crab is in SF!

      Reply
  29. Jessica Doll
    October 15, 2014

    This all looks so wonderful, the place, the menu, the food. Yum!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 16, 2014

      @Jessica, maybe a future date night for you and the hubby!

      Reply
  30. kristine foley
    October 15, 2014

    Love Top Chef! The food is making me drool!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 16, 2014

      @Kristine, me too, and it was delicious!

      Reply
  31. Ayana Pitterson
    October 15, 2014

    OMG!!! Can I have some? This looks freaking awesome and I am typing this while I am starving — so not fair!

    Thrifting Diva
    http://www.thriftingdiva.com

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 16, 2014

      @Ayana, that happens to me all the time, reading food posts while hungry is definitely dangerous!

      Reply
  32. The Accidental Mama
    October 16, 2014

    I love it when people take a little time to develop their brand and product. It is so much more telling of success than an flash in the pan personality (pun intended). Thanks for showcasing! I will be following what she does now!
    xoxo
    The Accidental Mama
    http://www.theaccidentalmama.com

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 16, 2014

      @TheAccidentalMama, I agree, I think it is harder to be patient and purposeful, it is pretty hard though, with media these days, you need to maximize your five minutes of fame because it can quickly distinguish!

      Reply
  33. Britt
    October 16, 2014

    Wow, all of the food looked so elegant and lovely!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 16, 2014

      @Britt, it was!

      Reply
  34. Michelle
    October 16, 2014

    I also love Top Chef, and I’m so happy to read this post! I live in the SF area, and can’t wait to go check the restaurant out. Thanks so much for this review!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 16, 2014

      @Michelle, definitely do! There are a couple of other Top Chef contestants floating around other locations in the Bay Area, we are lucky!

      Reply
  35. Anita
    October 16, 2014

    Casey was one of my favorite Top Chef contestants too. I’m so glad she’s settled here in the Bay Area. And I have to try those crab macarons!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 17, 2014

      @Anita, they are to die for, seriously still thinking about them!

      Reply
  36. Astrid
    October 24, 2014

    Love Top Chef so maybe a trip to SF is in order.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      October 25, 2014

      @Astrid, most definitely. We have a couple of Top Chef folks her in the city.

      Reply
  37. […] each other’s sites (Yosemite and San Francisco’s Sunset District). We ate out at many restaurants. And we supported each other’s career moves. When I decided to go on sabbatical to travel the […]

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