Palette (Temporarily) Opens in SoMa's Former LuLu, Fusing Cuisine and Art


The dining room at Palette. Photo: Rob Williamson, courtesy of Palette.


Tony’s tartare. Photo: Marija Vidal/Ghost Media Inc.

Now open in SoMa is ~PALETTE~ from chef-owner Peter J. Hemsley, previously a sous at Quince, who trained in Paris, including time with Alain Passard (L’Arpege). His menu of creative California cuisine includes the Palette flatbread, Monterey globe artichoke fries, housemade kielbasa, and a whole spit-roasted chicken (the press release said “farm hen,” but I just can’t do it) from the restaurant’s brick oven and rotisserie. Expect: seasonal, local, casual, shareable. Helmsley also has artistic leanings (illustration, watercolor, ink on paper), and it will come across in his plating.

There is also a strong art component, with an art gallery and retail store with a ceramic studio (house ceramicist Andrew Kontrabecki even creates special wares for specific dishes). Look for artwork from local artists that highlights concepts related to food culture. The current exhibit is “As You See It,” from Bay Area artists Juliette Choné and Kelley O’Leary.

There’s a bar featuring wine and Champagne from small and sustainable producers, aperitifs, and craft beers. Interestingly, the original designer-architect Cass Calder Smith (CCS Architecture) updated the space for Palette—LuLu was Smith’s first restaurant project 25 years ago. He will also be designing the permanent space for Palette, due to open in a year or so, at 155 12th St. Open for lunch and dinner Mon-Fri 11am-8pm. 816 Folsom St. at 4th St.