Photo from the Nightbird preview dinner with EatWith. Photo by Liz Subauste (@sobremesasf).
UPDATE: Farnoush Deylamian is no longer involved with the project.
Things are getting closer for Kim Alter’s upcoming Hayes Valley restaurant, ~NIGHTBIRD~, opening in the former Stelline and Las Estrellas. To recap, this is her first solo project (and not part of the Daniel Patterson Group, which she has been a part of for many years, including Plum and Haven). The restaurant is going to have 38 seats and a tasting menu format, plus an adjoining and extremely petite bar, the Linden Room.
The menu will run 5 strong courses, about 10 in all when you count the amuses, bread, and takeaway treat. Alter is thinking the menu will come in around $125, tax and tip included (she feels very strongly about trying to help make the tip-inclusive model work, which will also be the case at the bar). The tasting menu will not be a tedious four-hour experience, though—look for some unique and fun elements.
The menu will change often, starting with every other week, and then expect changes to ramp up to every other day. This is what happens when you go to farmer’s markets daily—a lot of inspiration. The experience will be a bit reminiscent of Septime and Restaurant Le Chateaubriand in Paris—high quality and serious execution (Alter has 20 years of technique we’re talking about) but still casual and fun. For those who previously had Alter’s food at Plum, while she likes having the best local products, there are global influences in her dishes for sure. She is currently meeting with pastry chefs as well and is excited to have one for the first time—she’s been covering desserts on her own all these years.
Another exciting part of the project, and one that hasn’t been announced yet, is who will be managing the Linden Room: the dynamic Farnoush Deylamian. For those who loved her balanced and exciting cocktails when she was at Aziza (she was there for 15-plus years), she will be continuing her style of culinary-driven craft cocktails, with a seasonal approach. Right now, they are stocking up on spirits from the best distilleries (many of them local) and working on housemade jams, peppers, drams, and tonics (their only limitation is storage, not imagination). The menu will have some classics and new concoctions, about 10 in all.
The Linden Room will have a style that feels very Art Deco-meets-New York hotel in the ’30s, with lots of woodwork, etched glass, a carpeted floor, and a muralist will be painting clouds on the ceiling. The barware and glassware will also be vintage—the ladies have found some incredible pieces, like little owl glasses (hello, Nightbird). There are only seven seats at the bar, which will only add to the charm. Guests will enter off Linden Street. Deylamian will also be overseeing the wine list, which will be tightly edited. Pairings will also include sake, beer, and more—it’s about what will go well with the flow of the food.
As for the dining room, there will be wood floors and plaster walls with a hand-touched effect, with an overall organic style and feel. The building is almost 100 years old, and since it has been deemed historic, they didn’t (and couldn’t) make a lot of big structural changes. The tables and chairs are being custom made; additional touches will include flowers, photographs on the walls, and Alter is talking to local ceramists (like Mary Mar Keenan and Melissa Rice) about plates and special custom pieces—she wants it to feel eclectic and not just one style. There will be a window into the kitchen, but the glass will be frosted so it’s not too distracting. By the same token, the dining room windows facing the busy street will have lace panel curtains covering the lower half of the windows.
So the big question of course is…when? Alter is eyeballing spring for the opening, maybe May. Looking forward to hearing the night bird sing. 330 Gough St. at Hayes.