Back in August, I mentioned chef Robin Song was going to be opening GIBSON in the soon-to-be-renovated boutique Hotel Bijou in the Tenderloin, and boom, it’s opening this Thursday October 5th.
Song’s menu is contemporary American and will be driven by live-fire cooking. You can start with charcoal-grilled sourdough bread with seasonal accompaniments, like curried currant and cauliflower, duck liver mousse, or cultured goat’s milk with seaweed and trout roe. There are bites like charred cucumber with uni bagna cauda, or you can go for a caviar service from The Caviar Co. There’s also a dish of carrots cooked in embers with sunflower, Medjool date and Moorish spices; another vegetarian dish is potato dumplings from the oven with broccoli, pine nut, and fermented peppers.
Larger, meaty mains include Sonoma duck ($23) smoked over the grill with beetroot and blackberry, and grilled heritage pork ($19) with young turnip, kohlrabi, and apple. True to their word, dishes are affordable but not sacrificing quality and sophisticated technique. Song’s culinary background spans Bay Wolf, Plum, Ame, Central Kitchen, and most recently Hog & Rocks.
Beverage director Adam Chapman (formerly of Daniel Patterson Group) has put together an intriguing and culinary-driven cocktail menu, full of unique picks like the Clarified Japanese Bloody Mary (sochu, aged sake, heirloom tomato water, vinegar, spice) served in a ceramic pitcher. And of course, there are plenty of variations on the classic Gibson cocktail, such as the Sea (nori gin, liquid kelp, sake, and sea bean) and the Garden (French oak gin, herbed dry vermouth, green peppercorn, and radish fromage). Radish fromage? To be investigated. Mark Nevin of Tofino Wines is behind the wine list, with wines exclusively from California and France.
The 90-seat restaurant has an Art Deco-inspired style by Oakland-based Mister Important. There’s a bar and lounge, open kitchen, and ceiling mural by Italian artist Marco Battaglini, plus a private dining room and deep turquoise leather banquettes.
Open nightly 5:30pm-10:30pm. 111 Mason St. at Eddy.
Manila clams cooked in hay. Photo: Alison Christiana.