New Openings, Reopenings, Reconcepts, Chef Announcements

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The newly updated Boulevard is open and ready to wow you. Photo: Eric Wolfinger.

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You’ll find riffs on Boulevardiers on Greg Lindgren’s new cocktail menu. Photo: Eric Wolfinger.

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Broiled steaks and red wine (and cocktails and tableside Caesar salad) await at The Vault Steakhouse. Photo: Hardy Wilson.

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An array of Mexican and Spanish dishes at the new Copas in the Castro. Photo via Instagram by Liz Barclay.

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Sean Thomas is the chef at the upcoming Buddy bar and café. Photo: Milo Salehi.

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The back area of The Grotto’s dining room (with an incredible view). Photo courtesy of Lisa Robins.

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Trestle in North Beach. Photo courtesy of Trestle.

Some quick updates I wanted to get on your radar, starting with congrats to the ~BOULEVARD~ team on their big refresh and reopening! After holding it down for 28 years (since 1993!) as our quintessential SF restaurant, it was time for an update to the interior and menu. Chef (and mentor to many) Nancy Oakes and executive chef Dana Younkin are known for celebrating the bounty of seasonal California ingredients, many sourced from just across the street at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. The new menu format offers a set menu at three ($89) and four ($115) courses that can be enjoyed in the dining room (or anywhere else in the restaurant). There is also an à la carte menu offered at the bar, or in the new expanded lounge next to the bar.

Some dishes on the opening fall menu include Japanese cherry salmon tartare with lime aioli, jalapeño, and trout caviar, served on a rustic housemade malted rye and flaxseed crisp; abalone with kelp noodles; rich king crab tagliatelle with chanterelle butter; and, of course, the Berkshire pork and Wolfe Ranch quail (served with wild sage and persimmons) remain on the menu.

Each dish also has a carefully selected and perfect pairing of wines offered by the glass. Meanwhile, over at the bar, Greg Lindgren has created a new cocktail menu, complete with a section featuring riffs on Boulevardiers, how perfect.

The Art Nouveau-inspired space got a big update from the Ken Fulk team, with vibrant upholstery, murals, a new blue onyx bar, a new lounge next to the bar (perfect for swinging by), and a dramatic peacock to greet you (taxidermied, not alive, ha). The fabulous wine vault and private dining room have also been reimagined. Some of Boulevard’s classic Kuleto design elements remain, like the hand-blown glass lighting, mosaics, and vintage iron work, and their great views of the Bay. Yup, it sounds like it’s a great time to book a reservation.

it looks like it’s the return of the steakhouse to our dining world (did it ever leave?), starting with the reopening of Hi Neighbor Hospitality Group’s The Vault in the Financial District as ~THE VAULT STEAKHOUSE~. The new executive chef is Ryan Cerizo, offering some decadent and playful touches to the modern steakhouse menu (with a raw bar), plus a new cocktail list from Nicky Beyries (previously Foreign Cinema), and wine program from Lucas Bierbower. The semi-circular leather booths and private dining room (with room for 25) will be popular as downtown starts to awaken from its long slumber. (I have tried to track down previous chef Robin Song about his whereabouts, but haven’t heard back.) Open Tue-Thu 5pm-9pm and Fri-Sat 5pm-10pm. 555 California St. at Kearny.

More steakhousin’: Tyler Florence has opened a new steakhouse in Chase Center’s Thrive City, complete with indoor and outdoor seating, tableside service, dry-aged steaks cooked under a broiler (old-school style), a dessert cart, and a swank design from Ken Fulk, complete with enormous leather booths. You can read more about ~MILLER & LUX~ here. Open Mon-Sat 5pm-11pm, Sun 5pm-10pm. 700 Terry A Francois Blvd.

Over in the Castro, ~COPAS~ has opened in the former 2223 Market space from Jessica Kapoor of Saison Hospitality Group. But before you start wondering if you’ll need to sell some crypto to dine there, it’s actually a casual spot, serving “seasonal California ingredients paired with flavors that celebrate the history of Mexican and Spanish culture” from chef Julio Aguilera—breakfast, lunch (soon), and dinner are all part of the plan, plus coffee service and cocktails.

Breakfast includes avocado toast and a runny egg sandwich, while dinner has plenty of bar bites (Cheesy pillows! Broccoli Caesar!) and five mains, like arroz con pollo and a grilled halibut skewer with mojo verde, two kinds of beans, and escarole. The cocktail list offers plenty of intrigue (most drinks are $13), and the Angler and Saison wine teams have helped dial in the wine list (most by-the-glass picks are $13-$16). Everything is priced pretty well for a quality neighborhood place. Breakfast Wed-Sun 8am-12pm, dinner Wed, Thu, Sun 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm. 2223 Market St. at Sanchez. [Via Eater]

A wonderful update over at the upcoming ~BUDDY~ bar and café opening in the former Californios space in the Mission: the team has hired Sean Thomas (formerly of Blue Plate, Rubicon, wd-50 in New York) to be the chef. Woohoo. (We’re all so lucky to have this talented chef back in a kitchen where we can see him regularly.) They’re looking at mid- to late-October for the opening, and will be launching a Kickstarter soon to get through the final push, so keep your eyes peeled for some sure-to-be-great perks! 3115 22nd St. at S. Van Ness.

Ahoy! ~THE GROTTO~ in Fisherman’s Wharf has reopened, after being closed for the entirety of the pandemic. Happy to see this old-timer (since 1935!) come back after their big, recent refresh. 2847 Taylor St. at The Embarcadero.

Another reopening: ~TRESTLE~ is back with their amazing prix-fixe deal ($39 for three courses, although who can pass on the $12 pasta supplement?), with a new head chef Danielle LeFevre, as well as brand-new HVAC and well-spaced tables. New hours are Wed-Mon 5pm-9pm. 531 Jackson St. at Columbus.

This news rolled in right at my deadline, but ~LUCE~ at InterContinental SF Hotel is reopening with new executive chef Rogelio Garcia (The Commissary, Spruce, Angèle in Napa) on Friday October 8th. Garcia is launching a chef’s tasting menu, with eight courses highlighting his many purveyor relationships ($145, vegetarian available upon request), and there’s a four-course menu for $95. 888 Howard St. at 5th St.

One space that isn’t coming back just yet is the café and dining room at ~CHEZ PANISSE~. In an email from the restaurant, they explained they hope to reopen shortly after the New Year, and will continue with take-out food and their Sunday market until the end of the year. “The reason can be distilled to COVID, the surge of the Delta variant, and their many implications: health and safety of staff, worries about unvaccinated family members, unpredictable school closures and required quarantines as they relate to staffing, restrictive and constantly changing safety protocols, the financial challenges of reduced capacity, the expense of unexpectedly being forced to close, etc. Chez Panisse is housed in an old craftsman bungalow with low ceilings and a few small windows. We have installed a new air ventilation system for the back of the café, but in many areas of the restaurant, our options are quite limited.” Read more from them here—I appreciate seeing such a thoughtful post about these complicated decisions every restaurant is struggling with.