WHAT THE CHEF RECOMMENDS
Adam Keough, executive chef of San Francisco’s Absinthe Brasserie & Bar, has had a love of food from a young age, since he began cooking with his grandparents at family gatherings. Now Keough mixes simple Boston roots with an elevated sensibility to create cuisine that is both innovative and homey. Keough has worked under notable chefs such as Anthony Ambrose and Joshua Skenes, a path that led to his being a James Beard Foundation “Rising Star Chef of the Year” semifinalist both in 2007 and 2008. Keough is at the helm of The Absinthe Group, which oversees six food and wine businesses (five in San Francisco), making him an integral part of San Francisco’s vivacious food scene. The New Potato couldn’t help but sit down with this seasoned chef for his take on ingredients, inspirations and more…
What’s different about your food?
It’s casual meets sophisticated. I like to begin an idea with a classic dish, flavor
profile, or memory. I always try to balance flavors and textures with an element of
Are you constantly making changes? How so?
Yes. I make changes seasonally or when I have a new ingredient or idea.
What’s special about Absinthe Brasserie and Bar?
It has a great bar, comforting dining room and a staff that truly enjoys what they do. You can have many different experiences at Absinthe such as a casual lunch, brunch, formal dinner with friends, or a simple late night beer and burger.
What experience do you want your customers to walk away with?
The restaurant is very comfortable and not pretentious, and has great food with a
charming and knowledgeable staff.
Can you share some menu favorites from Absinthe?
My personal favorites are the Warm Garlic Pretzels, Beef Tartare and Potato Crusted Arctic Char.
If you’re going to eat in San Francisco (besides at your own restaurant) where do you go?
I really enjoy getting a bowl of ramen at Katana-Ya.
What are some of your favorite cities to travel for food? Where do you go to there?
I really enjoying going to Boston and eating in the North End at Lucca. They have
great northern Italian classics.
Where do you go for inspiration?
Honestly, anywhere. I get ideas all the time. I get inspiration in the grocery store or farmers market, in a restaurant, and looking at new cookbooks.
Where would you like to travel for inspiration that you haven’t been to yet?
What wines go best with your menu?
I think burgundy wines pair best.
The best time to come to Absinthe…
I really like our weekend brunch or late dinner and drinks.
The perfect way to end a meal at the restaurant…
Well, Bill Corbett is such a talented pastry chef – I would have to say one of his
signature desserts, such as his New Parsnip Cake with Iced Buttermilk & Cocoa Nib
paired with an after dinner drink (I always have Fernet Branca).
Is there a dish on your menu that screams “Adam?”
Probably my Shellfish Stew with Roasted Bell Pepper-Bacon Broth. It is such a
warm and comforting dish that pops with intense balanced flavors.
What ingredients couldn’t you live without in your cooking?
Olive oil, citrus, pork, potatoes, and basil.
A recipe from your restaurant you’re willing to share with us…
Spicy Rabbit Meatballs (See recipe below)
What people don’t order on the menu enough, that they should order more often…
Smoked Chicken Brodo with Creme Fraiche Ravioli and Fava Beans. It is so good
but nobody orders it. I will probably change it soon.
The Chef you’d like to work with, that you haven’t gotten to work with yet…
The Chef/Restaurateur whose career you’ve always followed and looked up to…
Michael Mina. I followed his career at Aqua before I moved here from Boston.
Since then he has opened sixteen restaurants. I am lucky I had the opportunity to work
And most importantly…how do you feel about new potatoes?
I love new potatoes, especially because I am from a meat and potatoes family in
Boston. I use them at home when cooking with my girlfriend, Emily, and they can be
found on my menu at Absinthe.
*To view a Adam Keough’s recipe for Spicy Rabbit Meatballs, click here