One of the most highly rated restaurants in San Francisco on Yelp is Firefly Restaurant which is in Noe Valley. When I first moved to San Francisco, I considered living in this part of town. It’s quaint, more residential while still being urban… but mainly, it has a very neighborhoody feel which I totally loved. In some aspects, it was this charming neighborhood feel that reminded me of Brooklyn Heights (where I was living before). Firefly Restaurant, like many places along Henry St. in Brooklyn Heights, really exudes that same feeling that you get from the surrounding neighborhood. It’s cozy and casual without a hint of pretension.
Dinner started out with some absolutely delicious appetizers. The Shrimp and Sea Scallop Potstickers seem to be a signature starter. Yelpers consistently rave about them, so we definitely had to give them a try. The dish came as 4 crisply pan-fried potstickers with a sesame soy dipping sauce and a side of pickled vegetables. Although, not distinctly Asian in taste, the potsticker filling was really very good. I’m not sure I could taste the shrimp and sea scallop specifically, but I did notice bits of water chestnut which added a nice crunch. They were truly fantastic. The vegetables included squash and carrots and were pickled nicely. It added a nice tang of flavor to the potstickers.
The Sautéed Parisian Gnocchi appetizer was equally heaven. I’m not a huge fan of gnocchi, because it tends to be kind of heavy and even if it’s prepared well, it still ends up tasty a little too chewy and starchy. The waitress told us the Parisian Gnocchi was slightly different from the everyday gnocchi, because it was made with pate a choux which is a kind of pastry dough normally used to make cream puffs and eclairs. I think this is exactly why the gnocchi tasted so much lighter to the point that with each bite, it was like the gnocchi had melted in my mouth. To top it all off, the mix of grilled corn, summer squash and sweet 100 tomatoes was especially amazing. The corn was especially sweet, and the tomatoes were juicy. The dish as a whole is probably one of the memorable dishes that I’ve probably ever had.
For the entrees, we ordered what the menu describes as “Fried Chicken of Your Dreams” which came with mashed potatoes and gravy, a mix of peas and carrots, and really crispy buttermilk biscuit. The fried chicken was delicious. It was a good balance between being flavorful and juicy without being too oily and heavy. The mashed potatoes were good as well, but the real star of the plate was the medley of peas and carrots! They were so fresh, and the peas in particular were so sweet. It was absolutely yummy!
We also gave the Grilled Flat Iron Steak a try. It was served on a bed of arugula salad with demi-sec tomatoes, lemon cucumbers and Point Reyes blue cheese. Although arugula is very bitter and I don’t always enjoy the taste, the whole mix of flavors and ingredients in the salad were well-balanced with the steak. The steak itself was not especially unique or anything. It tasted like average quality meat and it was seasoned fine. It wasn’t a bad steak by any means, but since everything else tasted pretty special and unique, the steak seemed rather pedestrian in comparison.
As often is the case with us, Pdho and I were pretty stuffed and really didn’t have much room for dessert. However, since we ordered the prix-fixe and dessert was included, it wasn’t like we were going to turn it down. We ended up ordering the Sheep’s Milk Ricotta Panna Cotta with peaches, wildflower honey and olive oil-thyme madeleine and the tayberry and nectarine sorbets with spiced brown butter sandwich cookies. The desserts were decent. Both tasted good, but it was just too much for me to eat by this point. I wasn’t a fan of how they prepared the peaches which I thought were sour and mushy, and I have never really liked madeleine. The panna cotta was okay though. I usually like sorbets, and the nectarine flavor was good, but I think the tayberry was a little too sour. The mini brown butter sandwich cookies were very interesting though. It was a little too sweet, but I kind of liked the taste of the soft cookie and the creamy filling.
Overall, Firefly Restaurant is a very good restaurant. During the week, they have a prix-fixe menu for $36 which is a fantastic option especially because the quality of the ingredients and skill of the preparation is very high. The one thing throughout the entire meal that significantly stood out was the freshness of the produce. Every vegetable from the squash to the corn to the tomatoes to the peas and carrots were all so delicious. On each and every dish that came out, you couldn’t help but remark how great the vegetables tasted. Since they obviously source what is fresh and locally found in season, their menu changes pretty often… weekly, I think. I think this is fantastic, because it offers a lot of variety on an ongoing basis. The general ambiance of restaurant is very humble and inviting. The location is definitely a little quieter even though it’s located on the 24th Street stretch of Noe that has a lot of shops and restaurants. It’s just a couple blocks past Castro where it seems to become more residential. I really enjoyed the meal, and I definitely feel it’s worth the trip to check out.
4288 24th St
San Francisco, CA 94114
PAFO Ratings for Firefly:
Price 3½ stars
Ambiance 3½ stars
Food 4 stars
Overall rating 4 stars