Boiled crawfish; photo by Liza Gershman.
Opening on Thursday June 16th in the former Citizen Cake space in Hayes Valley is ~BOXING ROOM~, the latest project from The Absinthe Group (which includes Absinthe Brasserie & Bar, Arlequin Café, Arlequin Wine Merchant, and Comstock Saloon, in partnership with former Absinthe head bartenders Jonny Raglin and Jeff Hollinger). Chef Justin Simoneaux, a southern Louisiana native, started cooking in a New Orleans seafood restaurant at age 15 (yeah, that’s pretty dang young)—locally, he has worked at Le Petit Robert, COCO500, and The Moss Room.
Simoneaux’s menu of Cajun and Creole dishes will feature some California influences, like roasted Delta asparagus ($12) with Louisiana blue crab, cayenne hollandaise, and herbs, and fried Pacific oyster salad ($10/$15) with baby spinach, fennel, and Herbsaint vinaigrette. Larger dishes include a Louisiana seafood po’boy ($15), crawfish etouffée ($19), and Gulf flounder à la meunière ($21); you can view the opening menu here. There will also be a raw bar, an extensive list of beers on tap, and a variety of wines (with six on tap), and desserts from Absinthe’s pastry chef, Bill Corbett. Zach Pacheco is the general manager (he worked with Simoneaux at The Moss Room); The Absinthe Group wine director, Ian Becker, also the manager for nearby Arlequin Wine Merchant, will co-direct the beer-and-wine program with Pacheco. Sorry folks, no cocktails.
As for the question-inducing name (no, it has nothing to do with heavyweights and punching bags), it was inspired by the original use of the location: the former 19th-century Standard Shirts Factory. The restaurant was designed and restored by Sagan Piechota Architecture (Arlequin Wine Merchant, and the new Piccino), working with Bernardini Construction. Elements include a zinc-topped beer-and-wine bar, three custom five-foot chandeliers, some booth seating overlooking Gough Street, deep-red polished concrete floors, and a white-tile-and-stainless-steel open kitchen. Hours will be 5pm-2am nightly (last food order at 1am). Weekday lunch and weekend lunch will include some “bayou brunch” items, and will launch about a month after opening.