There are times when she plays it too straight. Aside from a whiskey gelée-covered ramekin of chicken-liver pâté, Alter's "the whole chicken" entrée ($23) is composed just like the pig roast — one fried wing, one roast breast, one confit'ed leg, with a swath of fried skin and some smashed baby potatoes — but wants for something other than solid technique. (Gravy?) A few splay-leaf clusters of Little Gems lettuces ($11), garnished with dabs of a caramelized shallot jam and spindly red radishes, simply lacks for salt and dressing. And the dish that Alter spins farthest out into the avant-garde, a smoked risotto ($13) topped with petals of sea urchin, nasturtium leaves, and sea beans, needs to be reeled back. Namely, by cutting the smoking time for the rice and halving the salt so it doesn't taste as if you're licking the blackened rub off a 14-hour brisket.

The perfect balance: a warm winter salad ($12) of baby artichokes and wheat berries fattened up with vegetable stock. The flavor of braised black sunchokes permeates the dish, making it taste as if the grains had coalesced out of almond butter and sweet cream. Each time my fork slid through one of the orange dots of puréed mandarin freckling the plate, the flavors seemed to glow gold.

A warm winter salad of wheat berries and sunchokes.
Kimberly Sandie
A warm winter salad of wheat berries and sunchokes.

Location Info


Plate Shop

39 Caledonia
Sausalito, CA 94965

Category: Restaurant > California

Region: Sausalito


Plate Shop
39 Caledonia (at Johnson), Sausalito, 887-9047, 5:30-9:30 p.m. Sun., Tue.-Thu.; 5:30-10:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Fully wheelchair accessible.

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Plate Shop's strength is Alter's ability to fold just the right amount of novelty into each dish — the date purée at the bottom of a cardamom-scented panna cotta ($7), the way a few spoonfuls of a duck-stock reduction sauce underneath her crisp-skinned Arctic char ($23) gather up the flavors of the sautéed maitake mushrooms, kohlrabi strips, and sweet strips of maple-cured fish bacon surrounding the char. She balances good cooking, good ethics, and technical legerdemain skillfully enough to satisfy diners who are out for a good, no-bullshit meal, as well as those of us who prefer our Americana, like our America, to have a little more thrill.

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Great review. I love it when you can really learn something other than just the reviewer's take on the dishes.Connecting the food and feeling to your childhood and to Edna Lewis (who I had not heard of, but will look up now) added so much more context to the piece. Thanks!

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