What’s to Come as the Weather Warms: A San Francisco Fall Restaurant Preview
Stanley Saitowitz’s design for Trace at the W, due Sept. 5, is one of over a dozen things we’re looking forward to this fall.

You’ve all suffered. We know. The fog has barely let up for more than five minutes since July 4th, and you’re impatient for actual summer to start. Have faith: It is still to come, and maybe it will last through October as it sometimes, generously does. And in addition to some warm, sunny days, you’ve got over a dozen new restaurants and bars to look forward to in the next few months, some from established chefs who’ve gone below the radar for a few years, and some from first-time restaurateurs getting their feet wet in a city with more restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the nation. Anyway, there’s a warming trend predicted this week, but refer back to this slideshow if you need a pick-me-up or a reminder of all the new things you’ll have to consume between now and the holidays.

Also, if you’re in a traveling mood, check out the fall previews in New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia too.

Former Rubicon chefs Nicole Krasinski and Stuart Brioza (pictured) have spent the last couple of years starting a family and working in private catering. One of their specialties became dim-sim-style hors d’oeuvres parties where they passed around a variety of unique bites and small dishes, most of them — as you’d expect from chefs of their caliber — more complex than your average canapé. “People were just always so happy,” Brioza says of these parties, “having all this food fluttering around them.” These parties form the concept of their new restaurant, State Bird Provisions (1529 Fillmore Street), due in November, and chefs across town tell Grub Street this is the restaurant opening they’re most looking forward to. Joshua Skenes (Saison) is sure the place will be good, and Ravi Kapur says he “can’t wait” to see what friends Brioza and Krasinski come up with. The name, by the way, is a riff on Brioza’s signature dish at Rubicon: a crispy spiced quail, quail being California’s state bird.
Rumors swirled last summer that Slanted Door chef-owner Charles Phan was reclaiming the space where he first made his name at 584 Valencia Street — the original Slanted Door space where Bill Clinton first tasted Phan’s spring rolls. And now we know that he’ll be doing a Chinese street-food concept, with cocktails by Brooke Arthur, and former Midi chef Michelle Mah taking charge of the kitchen. The name, Wo Hing General Store, makes reference to a nickname for Phan’s father. A number of chefs around town say they’re excited for this opening too, including Mission neighbor Craig Stoll (chef-owner of Delfina, Pizzeria Delfina, and Locanda). “We can definitely use more Chinese food around here!” says Stoll.
“North Beach isn’t an area I frequent for food,” says Cooking Channel star Aida Mollenkamp, “but Park Tavern may change that.” One of the most anticipated openings of the year has been the big brasserie off-shoot of Marlowe, Park Tavern (1652 Stockton Street), from chef-partner Jennifer Puccio and owner Anna Weinberg. The huge North Beach space, on Washington Square Park, was formerly known as Moose’s, and then briefly Joey & Eddie’s. The makeover they’ve given it has already brightened and urbanized the space, with white tile floors, black subway tile on the walls, and big wagon-wheel chandeliers. Having a new, larger kitchen than she has Marlowe is allowing Puccio to expand on her talents with seafood, and expect the rest of the menu to reflect Puccio’s California-French sensibilties, opening up a broader range of possibilities than the abbreviated, but much-loved menu at the SoMa restaurant. Look for Park Tavern to swing open its doors on September 1, just in time for actual summer.
One of the things fans of chef Russell Moore have most come to associate with fall is the return of his famous boudin blanc — a complex, and hard-to-make sausage made with pork, chicken, and cream that’s considered one of the most treasured of French sausages. The dish appeared on the Food Chain on Grub Street last year when Bakesale Betty’s Alison Barakat who raved “It has this amazingly smooth, rich texture and the flavors are out of this world.” Unfortunately for Moore, it’s not his favorite thing to make. Ever since he first lied to Alice Waters and told her he knew how to make it, spending the next twelve hours struggling and figuring it out on his own, it’s been his burden to bear. “The problem is it took me fucking forever to make every single time, and it still does,” says Moore. The results, however, are outstanding, and due to popular demand Camino will be featuring boudin blanc on their Oktoberfest Monday menu again this year, with spaetzle, pretzels, and homemade sauerkraut, and and every Monday night in November — unless Moore digs in his heels and changes his mind.
The new bar from Bon Vivants Scott Baird and Josh Harris (pictured) is scheduled to go into a new restaurant-anchored development at 20th and Florida by late fall/early winter, alongside the much anticipated Flour + Water offshoot, Central Kitchen. The pair created the bar program at Quince, and Baird served as partner and creative force at 15 Romolo until just recently. At Trick Dog, they’ll continue to create cocktails with a culinary bent. “We like to make things that you can’t buy,” Baird said in a recent interview. “If you can think of it, then you can make it, is the way that I feel about it.”
And that brings us to the biggest opening in the deep Mission: Central Kitchen and the adjacent Salumeria (3000 20th Street), from the team of David White, David Steele and chef Thomas McNaughton, who brought you Flour + Water. The concept is a mutable, ever-shifting one, with themed dinners centered around a farmer, animal, winemaker, guest chef, or whatever strikes McNaughton’s fancy. Next door, in the daytime, Salumeria will be a Old World-style deli, just as the name implies. And most notable of all: There will be no pizza oven. Commonwealth chef Jason Fox says this is the opening he’s most excited about. “Thomas’s stuff is always on point,” says Fox. “I like the idea of themed dinners, and it will be interesting to see how they explore different ideas outside of their usual Italian cuisine.” The ETA on this one is still a moving target, but hopefully we’ll see it before the holidays. Update: They’re now saying early 2012, and only maybe before spring. But they have hired a chef from Manresa to serve as chef de cuisine: Michael Gaines.
The new Jack London Square expansion of Daniel Patterson’s growing local empire has seen its share of delays, and one notable chef change — after Patterson dissolved his partnership with Il Cane Rosso’s Lauren Kiino, he went on to hire Kim Alter (Aqua, Ubuntu, Plate Shop) and to change the name to Haven. The menu at the new Oakland eatery will feature more “accessible” food than at Plum or Coi, and one can expect Alter’s influence to be large here — hopefully with a return of her “whole chicken” dish from Plate Shop.As for Plum Bar, next door to Plum, look for that to open around late September, with a bar program from Scott Beattie and Left Coast Libations author Michael Lazar.
Earlier this year news broke that the former owners of El Paseo in Mill Valley, Seigo Takei and his wife Keiko Takahashi, were finally coming back on the restaurant scene and taking the former Charles Nob Hill/Le Club space at 1250 Jones Street. The opening date is still unclear, but expect to see Chef Takahashi doing something similar to what she was doing at El Paseo when she earned a Michelin star: a blend of French and Japanese kaiseki styles, in a fairly formal setting. In an age when everyone’s tossing out the tablecloths and going casual, we look forward to what may be S.F.’s only luxe opening before Saison relocates and recalibrates next year.
The Dining Room at the Ritz, you may have heard, is closing September 15 for a major overhaul in keeping with these non-tableclothed times. Longtime chef Ron Siegel (pictured) is staying on board, and the concept is “casually elegant,” with a focus on a more modern, less formal dining experience. They’ll be adding a cocktail program, and the menu will be completely new. For diners looking for a more luxurious experience, there will still be a multi-course, chef’s table option — it is still the Ritz, after all. Look for the new restaurant to open, with a possible new, separate entrance, by the holidays.
In September, San Francisco is set to get an import from L.A. we should all be pretty happy about: Umami Burger. This is the burger GQ named Burger of the Year in 2010, LA Weekly critic Jonathan Gold calls the signature menu item, the mysteriously delicious Umami Burger, “a puzzle demanding to be solved.” Owner Adam Fleischman announced his expansion plans earlier this year, and in addition to the first location in Cow Hollow (2184 Union Street), look for more Umami Burgers to open in the Mission and Oakland.
For a restaurant that’s still at least two months from opening, AQ (1085 Mission at 7th) has already generated a good amount of buzz, put menus out there, and built a full-fledged website. First-time restaurateur Matt Semmelhack has teamed with former La Folie chef de cuisine Mark Liberman to bring their version of seasonal, “affordable fine dining” to a part of SoMa that doesn’t feature much dining at all. The interior of the space, which had not been a restaurant, features high ceilings and a lot of exposed brick, and if you donate to their end-run Kickstarter campaign, you can get your name engraved on one of them. Expect to see AQ open its doors by late October, if all goes well.
Despite the presence of Tu Lan a few doors down, the corner of 6th and Market has never been much of a foodie destination to say the least. But now with Show Dog across the street, and Pearl’s moving in to the corner spot next door to Cancun Taqueria, there may see a lot more foot traffic — and not just from people trying to score pills or hurry by on their way to Powell Street. Look for them to open around mid- to late September.
Mission cocktail bars and French food don’t often intersect, but that’s the idea at the new bar moving in to the El Rincon space (2700 16th at Harrison), called Dear Mom. Owners Oliver Piazza and Jay Beaman, both bartenders at Thieves Tavern, in partnership with Thieves owner Paul Bavaro, have brought on Chez Spencer/Spencer on the Go chef Laurent Katgely (pictured, in his truck). When this place debuts in late fall/early winter, you can expect to see a few Mission hipsters washing down blanquette de veau with PBR. That alone should be something to look forward to. (See the draft menu here.)
One of the smaller, more under-the-radar openings Grub Street is looking forward to is this Spanish restaurant, Canela,  moving into 2272 Market Street in the Castro — the space occupied for a quarter of a century by Capri Ristorante. Chef Mat Schuster and partner Francisco Cifuentes have kept their plans pretty well under wraps, but have revealed that the menu will be tapas-focused — a good fit for a neighborhood that likes to drink. Think clams, meat and cheese platters, albondigas, and cocas (Spanish-style flatbreads), as well as sandwiches and vegetarian items. They’re planning to be open for both lunch and dinner from the start, and we’re thinking this opening will happen by late September or early October.
Not much is clear just yet about what the food will be like at the new replacement restaurant for XYZ at the W, but one thing is sure: We’re all looking forward to seeing the finished design. Beloved local architect Stanley Saitowitz, who’s won tons of awards for his loft projects and for the interior design of Conduit (now Another Monkey), is taking inspiration for the design at trace from a line of poetry about San Francisco by Ambrose Bierce: “This city is a point upon a map of fog.” Using the concept of maps to inspire the floor coverings, and furniture symbolizing buildings and structures, Saitowitz has envisioned an interior doused in silver, gray, and white, like the fog we’re all too familiar with (see more renderings over at the Scoop). The design extends outside the restaurant into two lobby bars as well, and the menu will be more S.F.-friendly (read: farm-to-table-y) than Trace’s Austin counterpart of the same name — they’ve even hired a full-time forager. Expect Trace to open September 5.
Beer-hounds should be most psyched about this opening from the Monk’s Kettle team of Christian Albertson and Nat Cutlerand chef Adam Dulye. Abbot’s Cellar (740 Valencia Street) aims to be a big, 100-seat beer hall with gourmet American and European food and craft beer pairings. The space is a former auto repair shop and will involve both a change-of-use permit and some hefty renovations, which could set the time line back. But the team is hoping to make it open by winter, and so we include it here. Also, look for a wine program from Heart’s Jeff Segal.
What’s to Come as the Weather Warms: A San Francisco Fall Restaurant