The BAR TARTINE team of Cortney Burns and Nick Balla have been hosting a Monday night series since August called Motze Mondays, where they have been exploring more Japanese-influenced dishes in a family-style format. It has also been a way for them to recipe test their new restaurant concept, MOTZE, which they are going to open in the former Herbivore on Valencia.
This sequel restaurant is going to have a short-term lease, just 1 1/2 years, so they are avoiding sinking too much into the space for this self-funded and handmade project. It will have 40-something seats, and it’s going to have high energy and feel lively and experimental.
They have lined up a great team and are excited about putting forth a fusion-y menu that has more Japanese influences, with a rustic and spicier profile than Bar Tartine (as Balla says, “more heavy metal!”). It will integrate family influences from how and where they grew up, which will include input from their sous chef from Laos. Balla explains further: “It’s the food we really like to eat—especially on the couch at 2am after a couple beers.” Expect lots of tastes, flavors, textures, and yay, good value.
When they launched Motze Mondays, the initial family-style menu included a range of bites like salmon belly in chrysanthemum sauce and black koji and flaxseed crackers with salmon roe, followed by larger dishes like chicken fat dumplings with egg and shiso, and eggplant with rye shoyu, plus some sweets (like quince steam cake). Of course the menu has been been evolving each month.
Like we previously mentioned, the name isn’t a spin on matzoh: the name is in honor of a fifth-century Chinese philosopher, Motze.
The plan is to be open five nights a week, expanding to seven, and they are considering daytime too. The opening should be within the month, I’ll keep you posted. 983 Valencia St. at 21st St.
Making narezushi. Photo: Pete Lee.