Kokkari profile by Q San Francisco

Q San Francisco

When I think of fine dining the words "Greek restaurant" do not come first to mind; but an exceptional dining experience at Kokkari has changed that for me.

The kitchen, under the command of Executive Chef Jean Alberti, produces a consistent array of palate tempting offerings. The decor and ambiance is cozy yet splendidly grand with high vaulted ceilings, a massive fireplace (where lamb is roasted), rich woods, colorful upholstery, booths, alcove tables, and fireside tables. The food is Greek with a Cal-French flair.

The Mezethes, or appetizers, are plain yummy. The pikilia (traditional Greek spreads served on grilled pita bread) and the marvelous soutzoukakia (spiced grilled meatballs with peppers, onions and tomatoes) are both a must have or you will never forgive yourself. Try two super salads: the mixed greens with pickled beets, toasted walnuts and oranges, or the horiatiki: a classic Greek salad with fresh tomato, seeded cucumber, red and green bell peppers, sweet onions, oregano, a variety of olives and fresh imported feta cheese.

For the main course, I suggest several selections: the grilled prawns in a meyer lemon vinaigrette (tender, succulent and sweet); the penne, served al dente with a rich blend of oven dried tomatoes, olives, capers, extra virgin olive and cheese, is a rich meal in itself; the grilled lamb chops with lemon oregano vinaigrette; and the Moussaka, a casserole of eggplant, ground lamb, potato and a yogurt béchamel sauce-extreme taste here.

The deserts are all worthwhile-; and the Greek coffee is an acquired taste, but something you must try.

Valet parking is available and reservations are a must. Full bar and an extraordinary selection of ouzo, Greek brandy, cognac and grappa. 200 Jackson Street. 415-981-0983. $$$ WCA