Chef Michael Mina. Photo provided by Michael Mina.
I had a chance to catch up with Michael Mina about his plans for the former AQUA space at 252 California Street. His return to the space, where he was named chef de cuisine at the young age of 21 and worked for 13 years, is certainly a personal one. He has reassembled many individuals from the original team of architects, designers, and project managers that worked on AQUA when it opened in 1991, and who obviously know the space well. Mina is going to be moving and creating a newer and more-accessible version of ~RESTAURANT MICHAEL MINA~, which is currently in the Westin St. Francis on Powell Street, but will be wrapping up in August or so. At the California Street location, he’s going to be offering an à la carte menu that’s built for sharing instead of individual tasting menus, and swapping out the white tablecloths for walnut tabletops. And yes, the big mirrors will be staying.
The kitchen will be overseen by Jeremy Ravitz, the current chef de cuisine at the Westin location. The 18-seat bar is going to have a unique menu of “larger hors d’oeuvres” that you can order four or five of to make a meal (you’ll also be able to order these items in the dining room). But in an interesting twist, only the bar seating will be open for lunch—there won’t be any table service. There are also the 6-8 seats in the lounge, where you can take a seat for a seasonal cocktail and bar items in the evening. The restaurant will be open nightly; the plan is for an October opening. 252 California St. at Battery.
The fate of the Restaurant Michael Mina space in the Westin St. Francis is to be determined: Mina is meeting with the hotel union in June for a new contract, so we’ll have to see what kind of a deal is struck. If the intended and hoped-for deal happens, Mina plans to put a steakhouse concept in the space. Time will tell. 335 Powell St. at Geary, 415-397-9222.