In less than a year since it opened, Aster has already earned itself a Michelin star, and with just one visit, you’ll understand why. Chef/owner Brett Cooper (formerly of Coi and Outerlands) is serving up elegant Californian cuisine — but not the kind you’re used to. In this beauty of a space, located on a quiet corner in the Mission, you’ll experience unexpected ingredients and flavor combinations that will surprise even the most sophisticated of palates. What’s even better news is that a large portion of Aster’s menu is, or can be made, totally nobread friendly …
To start, I had the chicories with buttermilk, asian pear, watermelon radish, and olive (has to be requested gluten-free to avoid miso). This dish is composed of warm lettuce, which you might not expect, but it actually works fabulously. The contrasting flavors and textures was a fun start to the meal. Next I had the trout, which was served with Tokyo turnip, grapes, charred scallion, and brown butter. This was an explosion of flavor that left me thinking about the dish for days to come, and led me to tell everyone to get to Aster ASAP! I learned from my server that the trout is poached in olive oil, which made for what was quite possibly the most tender and delicate piece of fish I’ve ever tasted. The accompaniments were just as memorable; a perfect balance of bright, fresh, and rich flavors. Some of Aster’s nobread-friendly small plates that I’ll be going back for include: beets with cultured cream, pistachio, pomegranate and arugula; bay scallops with pomelo, fennel, yuzu and seaweed; squash soup with pepita, marrow and cipollini; and soft-cooked egg with crispy potato, salmon roe and bacon vinaigrette (has to be requested gluten-free). In addition to the trout, all of Aster’s other entrees are already gluten-free: chanterelle and salsify with hazelnut, parsnip cream and nettle; pork shoulder with delicata squash, kishu and shiitake furikake; and milk-fed lamb with cabbage, quince, sunchoke and hibiscus. Two of four desserts can be made gluten-free upon request: pink lady apple with sunflower seed and bay laurel; and the pumpkin parfait with pecan and coriander.
For all of you adventurous eaters, Aster should go straight to the top of your list! This place is indulgent enough for a special occasion or date night, but with its moderately priced menu, it’s just as fitting for a weekday dinner (albeit a fancy one). The menu is sure to change with the seasons, but you can count on Aster’s top-notch staff to guide you through what is and is not gluten-free. They are also happy to accommodate requests, and where possible, modify any dish to make it gluten-free. Between the super accommodating staff, the weird yet wonderful flavor combos, and the abundance of GF menu options, Aster is sure to become an instant favorite.