San Francisco’s South of Market (SOMA) neighborhood welcomes AFICI, a new fine dining destination by Alexander’s Steakhouse Group on September 24. Under the direction of Chef Eric Upper, AFICI serves contemporary American cuisine with influences from French and Italian flavors and technique. Guests can expect a regularly changing, four-course prix fixe menu that is guided by seasonality and highlights full animal utilization, handmade pastas and a house charcuterie program.
A New York City native, Chef Upper, the Executive Chef of Alexander’s Steakhouse in San Francisco brings a resume of fine dining experience to the table, including roles at Morimoto, Aureole and Joël Robuchon. He was inspired to open AFICI after running The Patio pop-up by Alexander’s Steakhouse during the pandemic.
“I reconnected with my culinary roots at The Patio and was able to introduce guests to some of the food I have enjoyed cooking throughout my career,” said Chef Upper in a statement. “AFICI was really born out of that pop-up. The restaurant encompasses everything I love about food alongside all of the details that make a dining experience truly special and memorable – from the service to the atmosphere and design.”
AFICI invites guests to create their own culinary journey through the restaurant’s $125, four-course menu starting with dishes like the Carne Cruda with cauliflower, mushroom and sott’olio, Devil’s Gulch Rabbit with pistou, summer salad and pickled mustard seed or Westholme Wagyu Tongue with tomato gastrique and popcorn tuile ($5 supplement). Chef Upper elevates traditional pasta preparations throughout the second course, featuring unique flavor combinations and ingredients in dishes like Casoncelli with pistachio puree, cherry and confit Wagyu, White Truffle Tagliatelle with egg yolk and parmesan ($15 supplement), and Corn Cappellacci with popcorn, Jimmy Nardello peppers and yuzu kosho.
Chef Upper’s third course celebrates both his Italian roots and those that reflect his training in French culinary techniques. These include Chicken Roulade with red orach, malfatti (Italian spinach ricotta dumplings) and Point Reyes Blue Cheese, Duo of Beef with grilled strip, braised brisket and sunchoke ($40 supplement) and Artichoke with barigoule, porcini and mint.
The menu features a house made A5 Wagyu Charcuterie ($40 per person supplement), which showcases the restaurant’s Hitachi Wagyu whole cow program and White Sturgeon Caviar made exclusively for AFICI and hand-harvested by the team ($183 per ounce supplement).
The AFICI menu concludes with Pastry Chef Anna Szeto’s selection of seasonal desserts that showcase California produce and include Pink Pearl Apple Tart with jasmine, ginger gelee and pear sorbet and Paris-Brest served with pistachio ice cream, matcha, raspberry curd and chocolate.
AFICI’s full beverage program has a curated list of wine, a selection of spirits, and a menu of cocktails, as well as low proof cocktails. Under the direction of Wine Director Nicholas Keegan, AFICI highlights Italian, French and some Spanish wines as well as varietals and small production wineries from California. Guests enjoy 15 – 20 wines by the glass or can explore a menu of 80 bottles, carefully chosen to complement the cuisine.
The cocktail menu is designed by Bar Director Nicholas Bonney. Cocktails include classics like the Old Fashioned, White Negroni and Last Word alongside a list of libations rotating seasonally. Some other highlights include the Ripple Effect with London Gin No. 1, Fennel & Flannel chareau aloe, wasabi bianco vermouth is served alongside a tray of housemade pickles and the Milan Rouge with Diplomatico Planas, Brucato Amaro Orchard and Brucato Amaro Chaporal. Select cocktails will be prepared tableside, with AFICI’s custom bar cart.
AFICI offers a Whiskey Locker program where members can purchase their own bottles and store them in a private locker within the restaurant. Additional benefits of membership include access to rare and highly sought after whiskies, complimentary cocktail service, and exclusive invitations to tastings and events at the restaurant.
Building on his history with Alexander’s Steakhouse Group, Marc Dimalanta of San Francisco’s D-Scheme Studio collaborated with the team to reimagine the AFICI space. AFICI is the first concept by Alexander’s Steakhouse to utilize interior design to bring the energy and activity of the kitchen and service station directly into the restaurant.
A marble counter is the focal point of the restaurant, with one side serving as the bar, showcasing AFICI’s collection of spirits, housemade bitters and fresh ingredients. The other side of the counter features AFICI’s pasta making station, where guests can get a front row seat to the intricacies of the pasta making process beneath the restaurant’s customized charcuterie locker. The customized whisky lockers feature glass on either side.
The shared lounge and dining space facing Folsom Street features floor to ceiling windows. A more formal and intimate dining room is revealed behind the bar, with luxe booths and banquette seating throughout and a wine service area making wine a central part of the dining experience for nearby tables.
For larger groups and events, AFICI offers a flexible private dining space with seating for up to 40. The room can also be separated to create smaller spaces for groups of up to 20. Both rooms feature AV capabilities.