We finally got some images, so let’s take a look at the newly reopened CAFE DU NORD, whose building dates back to 1907. To recap, The Bon Vivants and Ne Timeas Restaurant Group (flour + water, Central Kitchen, Salumeria, and Aatxe) are behind the project, and while it isn’t the live music venue it used to be, there will still be some live performances (more on that in a minute). The team also really wanted to honor the long legacy of the iconic space, which was designated a San Francisco Historic Landmark in 2015.
The design of the subterranean space is now more Deco than Victorian bordello—Ne Timeas partner David White drew design inspiration from the Cafe du Nord of the 1930s and ’40s (you’ll note wood wainscoting, vintage wallpaper, Deco light fixtures, and more).
There are two rooms: first, the bar, with 20 stools and an area with café tables (also room for 20). Farther back into the 4,500-square-foot space is the Viking Room, with a 5-seat bar, 30 seats for guests seeking a full-service dining experience (you can make reservations), and a stage for musical acts, which will highlight local artists nightly. Look for jazz, blues, and cocktail piano—so, no more punk, sorry. As a reminder, Noise Pop Concerts is behind all the music performances in the Swedish American Hall, which is just upstairs.
Chef and partner Thomas McNaughton’s menu (view it in its entirety here) is a salute to classic American dishes, so you’ll find raw oysters (which are just $1 after midnight, to go with the Champagne, you see), broiled oysters Kilpatrick (with bacon and Parmesan), shrimp cocktail, beef tartare, cioppino, chicken al mattone, and a rib-eye steak. And, naturally, a burger. There are also some bar snacks, although you can order off the entire menu throughout the bar area.
The Bon Vivants definitely gave the cocktail list an upgrade, highlighting spins on drinks from the past century, but with new ingredients. The list (all drinks are $12) includes the Södermalm (Rittenhouse rye, Punt e Mes vermouth, Cherry Heering, and Cafe du Nord Fika bitters), the Martini du Nord (Ford’s gin and oyster shell-infused Noilly Prat vermouth), the Golden Era (George Dickel rye, maple sugar, and fig leaf bitters), and the Diggers (Tequila Ocho plata, Chablis, peach, zaatar, and lime). See, it helps to know your SF history to understand the names of a few of them. Look for a long list of Scotch and American whiskey too.
Ne Timeas Restaurant Group wine directors Geno Tomko and Samuel Bogue are behind the wine list, with a special focus on Champagne and the wines found throughout that region, ranging from Grande Marques houses to small grower-producers. Best of all: all bottles of Champagne will be half-price after midnight, seven days a week. I KNOW. So let’s say cheers to what sounds and looks like a thoughtful renovation and upgrade to a beautiful and beloved venue.
Open nightly 5pm-2am. Food served until 1:30am. 2174 Market St. at Sanchez, 415-471-2969.
The bar at Cafe du Nord. All photos courtesy of Cafe du Nord.