Jeremy Fox Finally on the Hunt for Restaurant Spaces in S.F. and the East Bay

Fox at his Yountville garden in February.
Fox at his Yountville garden in February. Photo: Grub Street

The fantastic (and yes, much blogged about) Mr. Fox, who’s doing a sold-out guest stint at Saison this week, informed us recently that he was finally planning to open his own restaurant in the inner Bay Area. Diners at Saison this week and at his previous pop-up events there and at Atelier Crenn are seeing clues of what he’ll be up to — extremely fresh, innovative uses of unusual vegetables and vegetation, with a de-emphasis on meat and a focus on new flavors — and he’s currently on the hunt for spaces either in San Francisco or the East Bay. The working title for the new restaurant: Smith.

“I might want a warehouse space,” he told us vaguely, but nothing appropriate has presented itself yet. He says he’s also not afraid of a spot that’s off the beaten path, but he wants something in the range of 50 to 60 seats.

He’s also been opening up to the Scoop this week about his life and career over the past couple of years, including his time at Ubuntu, which wasn’t so rosy for him despite the critical acclaim and consistently full dining room. Being a man who shies from spotlights, having such a big spotlight on him for the better part of a year and a half made him deeply uncomfortable. “It all goes back to not being the Jeremy Fox Show,” he says, “and instead, [it should be about] the mission for the restaurant as a whole.”

Fox recently moved from Napa to Oakland, and remains on good terms with Daniel Patterson, with whom he was briefly partnered last year before the opening of Plum. “I’m really glad to be back in the city, and close to friends and stuff,” he says, and it’s helped him get energized for a new project. As for the Tyler Florence chapter, he’s still not saying much except, “It wasn’t what I thought it would be.”

While Fox hasn’t been in an extreme hurry to get back into a kitchen full-time, he’s now realizing that he misses it, especially as he has more fresh vegetables ripening in his Yountville garden and no permanent place to experiment with them. “If it happens swiftly,” he says of his search for a space, “That’s great. But it needs to be the right space for me.” He says the timeline could still stretch out past the six month mark. As for our assertion that he might end up working with Kim Alter at his side, as he did at Ubuntu and Manresa previously, he says they haven’t discussed the possibility yet. “But I’d love to work with Kim.”

The working name for the project is the same as the one he gave to his Saison appearance: Smith. He earlier explained his affinity for the name thusly: “Smith, you know, like the most common name in the world. Anonymous. But also a craftsman, an artisan skilled at a certain kind of work.”

In the meantime, look for Fox to be doing another pop-up dinner or two, including a still TBA al fresco event in the garden. And he’ll also be doing some panel discussions with gardener Peter Jacobsen, and a few guest chef stints out of state in the coming months, as he continues working on his cookbook.

Earlier: The Smith Interviews, Part II: Jeremy Fox on shows, “success” and the power of gardening [Scoop]
Jeremy Fox Is Learning ‘Hard-Core, Extreme Gardening’ From New Mentor Peter Jacobsen
Jeremy Fox Launching Big, ‘Multi-Layered’ Side Project, Including a Pop-Up Dinner Series
Jeremy Fox, and Possibly His Staff, Are Leaving Ubuntu [Updated]

Jeremy Fox Finally on the Hunt for Restaurant Spaces in S.F. and the East Bay