Freds at Barneys New York Opens in Union Square, with an Unexpected Throwback Menu


The modern-chic dining room at Freds at Barneys New York, San Francisco. Yelp photo by Genevieve Y.

Now open in Union Square is ~FREDS AT BARNEYS NEW YORK, SAN FRANCISCO~. It’s a corner restaurant and bar on the sixth floor of the store, offering a dramatic urban view from the historic windows. The décor is chic and very ladies who lunch, with an inviting lounge with swanky little chairs that could be right at home at a vanity, and a bar complete with a 36-foot-long faceted mirror (you look marvelous). The elegant dining room is outfitted with mod swivel chairs in a soft green velveteen, and booths in a soft grey-blue. It’s all very pleasant and well-appointed, and the staff was gracious and charming.

But at a preview event last week, I feel like I should have worn a Designing Women power suit with the heftiest shoulder pads I could find, applied some heavy blush, and featured my vintage Gucci bag. The food was like a total throwback to 1991, complete with squiggles of balsamic on out-of-season asparagus, and the Freds [sic] spaghetti comes with pesto, shiitake mushrooms, more asparagus, and the kicker: sun-dried tomatoes. By the time the crab cakes came out with a smear of rémoulade, I was ready to head down to the perfume counter to douse myself in Poison. Or Giorgio. Anyway. I understand there’s some nostalgia about some of the salads and dishes (which date back to the original Freds opening in 1996), but I was really surprised at how anachronistic the menu was. I’d go back for Estelle’s chicken soup, and the perfectly fried Belgian pommes frites with some Champagne at the bar, but otherwise the menu was a head-scratcher. Entertaining, certainly. I guess it’s how fashionistas stay a size 4.

I also think it’s hilarious that I had a total download fail of my images from my camera of the evening. They completely disappeared. I think they got caught in a time vortex. I need to hop in a DeLorean and get back to the future to find them, along with a couple missing apostrophes, be right back.

Open for lunch and brunch: Mon-Sat 11am-4pm, Sun 12pm-5pm. 77 O’Farrell St. at Stockton, 415-268-3550.