Time to get behind the curtain! This is how Monsieur Benjamin’s construction scene was looking last month. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
And just like that, ~MONSIEUR BENJAMIN~ is opening tomorrow, Wednesday July 9th. To recap, the 90-seat project is from Corey Lee of Benu, Jason Berthold (previously RN74, and French Laundry and Per Se, where he worked with Lee), and Thomas Palauqui. Lee and company have had a year to prepare the large menu—as Lee notes, “a luxury”—and are taking classic French bistro and traditional French dishes and flavor profiles, giving them a modern update. Lee has been longing for a bistro and late-night destination since he moved to SF in 2009, so like they say, if you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself.
Tonight I’m going to a preview dinner, so I’ll have many more details for you on Friday about the interior (by Aidlin Darling Design), the inspiration, and what you’ll find on the modern French bistro menu (I do know they are committed to offering top-quality raw shellfish, including oysters that are shucked properly). When I met with Lee about a month ago, he said there would be snacks for $10 and under, appetizers from $10-$19, entrées in the $20s and $30s, plus cheeses and dessert (of course). The menu should be posted on the website soon, and we’ll be sure to run it here.
The look will have an urban San Francisco aesthetic, with references to classic Parisian style, like paper-topped tables and wood chairs that echo the classic bistro shape (nope, no faux bistro here). A few highlights: late-night dining hours, a casual and neighborhood vibe, cocktails (plus an exploration of French liqueurs and spirits), and Master Sommelier Yoon Ha has selected a wine list that features smaller family-owned producers from France (plus some from California too)—many will come from the Loire, and look for bottles to be less than $100, with 10 by the glass.
Hours are nightly 5pm-1am, eventually opening at 1pm on Sat-Sun for brunch in a few weeks. Reservations can be made starting tomorrow on OpenTable or by phone.