Lafitte Closes After Two Years; Chef Russell Jackson Heads to New York

The view from the enclosed porch at Lafitte.
The view from the enclosed porch at Lafitte. Photo: Courtesy of Lafitte

Almost exactly two years after opening at Pier 5, Lafitte, the restaurant borne out of Russell Jackson’s SubCulture Dining, has closed. Jackson tells Eater the reasons were financial, and that he “barely got to touch food,” by the end. “I became a high level administrator,” he says. What we observed was a restaurant that struggled to establish itself from the start and to find a clear vision for the food, and certainly those early disses from Michael Bauer and Josh Sens didn’t help.

Jackson did his level best to make things work — even switching things up midstream and abandoning his initial “menu of logic” premise in which he improvised dishes nightly, and switching to a more consistent, brasserie-like menu. Then lately he had taken to attention-grabbing events like his “F U Foie Gras” dinners and things like bacon flights and foie-gras-and-peanut-butter sandwiches. And there are plenty of Yelpers out there who walked away happy. In the meals we had at Lafitte, there were always one or two dishes that were interesting and good, and one or two that didn’t work and left us confused, and things could feel a little over-priced — recent complaints included an eight-dollar tea and a twenty-dollar martini, made with Swans Neck vodka.

But the view was always nice and the cocktails were often good. Jackson says he has a buyer for the space, and that he’ll now be heading to New York to launch SubCulture Dining there for a while. (Jackson was an early pioneer of the underground dining scene in S.F., launching in 2006.) Then he promises to be back to do another foie gras dinner or two, before time is up in July. Without a visible brick-and-mortar restaurant to target, however, the foie-gras protesters aren’t likely to follow. So maybe now Jackson can retire that bullet-proof vest.

Russell Jackson Laments, ‘I Have Closed Lafitte’ [Eater]
Earlier: Lafitte Chef Now Packing Heat After Death Threats From Foie Gras Protesters
Former Pop-Up Chef Turned Restaurant Chef to Relaunch Pop-Up at His Restaurant

Lafitte Closes After Two Years; Chef Russell Jackson Heads to New York