A report by Dana Massey-Todd. As covered in tablehopper in November, the former Sage space in SoMa has become 1601 BAR & KITCHEN. The new restaurant should be opening in the coming weeks and will be a cool opportunity for diners to check out Sri Lankan cuisine. Chef-owner Brian Fernando previously worked at Le Papillon in San Jose, and he hopes to bring that elevated technique to this new project, but with different flavors and a more casual atmosphere.
The new space, which was designed by Brent Kanbayashi, is sleek but comfortable, with a large L-shaped bar of wood, a communal table, and a private room in the back. Part of the space has very high ceilings, which have been softened with plants and organically shaped light fixtures, plus classic café chairs. A lighting fixture that will hold bottles and glassware is soon to arrive and will provide a focal point over the bar.
The menu is intended to be ordered as small plates, and includes lots of traditional Sri Lankan dishes served in new ways. Egg hoppers, a street food snack of egg cooked in a rice flour and coconut shell, will be available, along with mulligatawny soup, a spiced and meaty soup with lots of tumeric. For a quick crash course in Sri Lankan flavors, check out this glossary so you’ll be at least a little informed when you go.
The beverage program is mostly focused on wine, with 85 different bottles from around the world that have been selected to pair well with the food’s unique flavors. Camron Mashayekh, who worked with Fernando at Le Papillon, consulted on the wine program. There will be about 10 wines available by the glass, plus four on tap, and a handful of beers including local standby Trumer Pils.
It will still be a couple of weeks before they are able to open, because inspections are still pending and that light fixture needs to be installed above the bar. When the doors do open, it will be for happy hour Mon-Fri 4pm-6pm, and dinner Mon-Thu 6pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 6pm-11pm. Closed Sunday. 1601 Howard St. at 12th St., 415-552-1601.
Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.