Friday night is the big debut for Aaron London's AL's Place, housed in the former South End Grill 'n Bar space at 26th and Valencia. It's the first solo project from the acclaimed former Ubuntu chef, who's held a Michelin star and been nominated for a James Beard Award, and its focus is more casual, intended to offer a fun and personal option for the neighborhood.
As previously discussed, London is taking an unusual tack with his menu, offering exclusively pescetarian dishes with a few rotating meat items as "sides." Diners can ask servers to help them pair the main plates with the meat dishes, or just enjoy a meal of smaller plates. Unique interpretations of vegetables have been a London hallmark since the Ubuntu days, and they're offered in spades here, from brine-fermented fries with a vegan, apple-based BBQ sauce to sunchoke curry with cod, black lime, and grapefruit. Prices are also fairly reasonable for the neighborhood: no dish, even bavette steak or foie gras, cracks the $20 mark. Here's the full menu.
AL's Place doesn't have full liquor, but London has commissioned Alex Phillips, who trained him behind the bar at Locanda during his post-Ubuntu hiatus, to create some fun stirred cocktails using vermouth and amari. (Bonus: they're named for Reservoir Dogs characters...sort of.) French and Italian wines and Belgian beers dominate the list, and teetotalers can enjoy housemade sodas. Here's the beverage menu.
At 40 seats, AL's Place is decidedly petite; though it takes reservations, some tables and the six-seat bar will be saved for walk-ins. London has built planters outside, and as soon as he gets approvals, he'll be adding another 20 or so seats outdoors, with heat lamps. He also oversaw the transformation of the space, from the custom bar to the cheerful turquoise floors to the tiny, but well-designed kitchen. Brunch is in the works, and should launch in a few weeks; for now, hours are Wednesday-Thursday and Sunday, 5:30-10 pm, and Friday-Saturday, 5:30-11 pm.