Oro Opens on Mint Plaza This Week

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An array of bites (including halibut chicharrón). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Beef tartare with cured egg yolk. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Roasted whole trout with summer pepper and celery salsa. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Sweet corn ice cream with huckleberries and honey cake. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Salted date ice cream, cardamom marshmallow, sesame and chocolate granola. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Due to open this Friday in Mint Plaza is ~ORO~, a fitting name for a restaurant that is just across the plaza from the historic Mint building (it’s opening in the former Thermidor space). Executive chef and owner Jason Fox of Commonwealth has partnered with Timothy Felkner (founder of Vigilante Hospitality) and is offering a casual menu, with dishes that dip into seasonal and eclectic Californian and Mediterranean flavor profiles. Dishes are meant to be shared, although the single bites section is just for you, ranging from halibut chicharrón topped with salmon roe and crème fraîche to salt cod croquettes with preserved garlic aioli to flavorful grilled lamb on skewers—these bites make some great bar snacks too.

We attended a family test meal over the weekend (you can view the preview menu here), which featured small plates like a cool and smooth zucchini and mint soup with vadouvan oil on top—it’s a housemade masala (and a beautiful dish for Indian summer!). There’s a beef tartare with a crown of cured egg yolk on top and ancient grain croutons that get flavor-fied with beef fat (mmmhmmm), and another ideal warm-weather dish was the albacore tuna with melon, green beans, purslane, and dollops of whipped lardo. There’s a vibrant green salad, full of fines herbes; potato gnocchi with corn, chanterelles, and pecorino; and a grilled pork sausage with shelling bean salad.

As you can see, there’s a bit more rusticity to these dishes than Commonwealth’s soigné style (the chef de cuisine is Travis Day, formerly of Central Kitchen and Yoshi’s). Look for some charcuterie and whole-animal cooking too.

Large plates to share include roasted whole trout topped with a summer pepper and celery salsa and broccoli on the side; half a chicken with tomato, cress, and Swiss chard panade; and porchetta with grilled cucumbers, potato, and horseradish.

Another fun option is the blind tasting menu, which is like an omakase/chef’s choice scenario—the kitchen will send out dishes, including some off-the-menu picks. We don’t have prices for anything yet; look for the actual menu to post on the Oro website soon.

Appealing desserts include a fragrant honey cake with sweet corn ice cream and huckleberries (you want this), and salted date ice cream with cardamom marshmallow, and sesame and chocolate granola.

The bar manager is Randy Mariani (Tupper & Reed and Foreign Cinema), who has put together a craft cocktail menu with housemade ingredients like syrups, tinctures, shrubs, and infusions, and there’s specialty ice. Cocktails include the Granite Lady with cava, Cocchi Americano, dry vermouth, Strega, and lemon, and the 1854, with Scotch, smoked cherry heering, Benedictine, and Sightglass coffee. There are some large-format cocktails, too, good for four people, like the Octopus’s Garden with gin, Aperol, grapefruit, lemon, Peychaud’s bitters, and soda. You’ll notice the layout of the bar has changed to be parallel with the wall and now features a white marble bar top.

Wine director Kelly Evans (most recently head sommelier at Saison) has assembled a 100-plus bottle list—you’ll find many old-world selections, plus California’s latest. Ballers can request a reserve list. Local and imported beers will have their place on the list as well.

The 100-seat and multiple-level space continues its industrial look, and Roddy Creedon of Allied Architecture and Design has warmed things up with walnut tables, painted reclaimed-wood wall panels, and some texture from gray curtains. There is a fun custom chandelier made of miner-style lanterns at the entrance. The art program is also lending some pops of color—it currently features artwork from Erin Parish, and will rotate. Groups can find comfortable tables and nooks upstairs, and there are high-top tables in the bar area, ideal for walk-ins, snackers, and couples. They plan to start lunch on the patio in a month or so—although it’s tempting to drag your table out there right now.

Dinner is served Mon-Thu 5:30pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm. They plan to open this Friday September 11th, but you can confirm on their Twitter feed: @oro_sf. 8 Mint Plaza (at Jessie), 415-974-1212.