Best Mediterranean Restaurant - 2001
The Mediterranean Basin and its common, sun-kissed currency -- olives, fennel, grapes, and so on -- have provided fertile inspiration to many a local restaurant. 42 Degrees takes its name from one of the region's tastier coordinates -- the latitudinal line bisecting Portugal, the Basque Country, Corsica, and Tuscany. The house cuisine concocted by Jim Moffat and the recently departed Mark Denham does those regions proud. There are rich, creamy marrow bones with garlic and croutons; a fennel salad with mint, blood oranges, and tangerines; sausages, olives, and cheeses for snacking; roasted rabbit with green garlic risotto; monkfish and mussels with salt cod brandade; and a mascarpone cheesecake with strawberry-rhubarb compote. Wines, sherries, and grappas from throughout the region are offered along with several exotic teas and a full bar. And the setting -- vertiginous ceilings, rich draperies, and live jazz every night at 8, served up in the factory-outlet no man's land south of China Basin -- is one of the most incongruous and dramatic in the city.