March 12 2012 08:00 PM

Downtown brasserie serves up simple French-American food

currantsandiego
Flavored popcorn and tater tots
Photo by Marie Tran-McCaslin

With a luxurious interior, Currant American Brasserie's (140 W. Broadway) interior is what I'd imagine if Marie Antoinette lived today as a restaurant designer. Damask-patterned upholstery, brass-studded wooden chairs and a black-and-white checkered floor decorate a space that's sexy and modern without being tacky. The menu swings from French to American and everything in between. From steak frites to flavored popcorn, the food is sensual and simple.

I always start with the daily flavored popcorn. One popular flavor is Gruyere cheese and ham, which combines a very American snack with very French flavors. On my last visit, the server mentioned his favorite was sun-dried tomatoes, basil and feta, which is a combination I look forward to trying. Also on the appetizer list are garlic and chive tots, and, even though I think tots are often overdone, Currant's are addictive with habañero ketchup and buttermilk ranch for dipping.

Years ago, I developed a lifelong love affair with moule frites in Paris, and Currant takes me back with a heaping bowl of mussels served with crispy fries. The steak frites are delicious, and the seared scallops are plate-licking good, as the dried cherry compote brings out the sweet scallops perfectly. From the American side of the menu, the Brasserie Burger is more than decent. I suggest a side of the tasty Brussels sprouts, regardless of whether you order the mussels or a burger. Dessert includes Currant's fantastic ice cream, although I don't recommend the profiteroles. Other selections include a chevre cheesecake, chocolate pot de creme and lemon tart. To wash it all down, an extensive drink menu offers wine, beer, cocktails and absinthe.

The Sofia Hotel's restaurant, Currant covers lunch, dinner, weekend brunch and happy hour. Those dining at the bar will find a condensed menu with a few extras not offered on the dinner menu, like Stone IPA-battered fish tacos. Currant is about understated indulgence and, like many sexy things, it's appealing because it's not overly excessive.

Write to marietm@sdcitybeat.com and editor@sdcitybeat.com. Marie blogs at meanderingeats.com and you can follow her on Twitter at @MeanderingEats.

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