Opening on Thursday November 10th is the latest beauty in the Bacchus Management Group portfolio, THE SARATOGA, which is unexpectedly nestled on the corner of Larkin and Post—yup, right there in the TenderNob, with Mr. Holmes Bakehouse just up the street and Jane on Larkin down the street.
When you see the space, you’ll see why principal Tim Stannard couldn’t resist the building, which was built soon after the 1906 earthquake—it dates back to 1907 (when it was the Elk Hotel) and then rebranded one year later as The Saratoga. Stannard says they discovered the spacious basement and were inspired to make it into a two-level supper club and bar.
They took care to highlight the Carnegie steel throughout the space, and there’s even an imprint on one of the support columns that says “Folsom Street Ironworks 189?” (they can’t make out the last digit). They also kept the original blade sign outside, of course, outfitting it with some new neon.
It’s rather stunning. As you approach the building, you’ll see the tremendous wall of backlit booze shimmering dramatically, along with a custom tiered chandelier designed by Stephen Brady and Magnus Schevene, who did a lot of the metalwork, including the bar shelves and details.
Upstairs is more of a dark yet warm industrial bistro vibe, with room for 64. Tables circle the stairwell that leads to the 23-seat downstairs—a more formal dining room with white tablecloths and a beautiful bar of Carrara marble and a tufted base. There’s also a small lounge area tucked near the stairs. The lighting is very sexy and flattering, and this swank downstairs bar is where you’ll want to start your next hot date, mark my words. Stannard was inspired by a favorite bar in Paris, and the grey mohair walls adorned with vintage art, selected by Lost Art Salon, add to a timeless, salon-style vibe.
The menu by chef Mark Sullivan and chef de cuisine Jason Wittek is a playful take on New American cuisine, but of course using the best ingredients, with produce from BMG’s SMIP Ranch. There are bites good for upstairs or downstairs, like seven-spice chicken sliders with ‘Bama white sauce and dill pickles, or ‘Toga tots with Fiscalini cheddar, chorizo, and scallion. Of course there’s a burger (with Taleggio cheese and slaw on an onion bun) and a fun Cubano frank, which is a deep-fried dog topped with slow-roasted pork, Swiss cheese, yellow mustard, and mojo relish on a Mayfield Bakery roll (yeah, it’s pretty amazing).
Vegetable dishes include a warm Chantenay carrot salad with avocado, toasted seeds, and vadouvan, or a bagna cauda-poached tomato, with grilled levain, garlic cream, and basil. The berbere-spiced chicken paillard is accompanied with labneh, while a classic Flannery dry-aged New York steak will come in Cognac-peppercorn sauce.
Desserts are full American nostalgia, from their version of a Ho Ho to Cracker Jacks to fried apple hand pies. Pricing couldn’t be confirmed at press time—you’ll need to check the site for the menu in a couple of days.
Barman Brandon Clements, who has been with Bacchus since he started as an hourly bartender at Spruce in 2007, is now a partner in this venture, and he has created quite the extraordinary list. He said he has been “hoarding” the past 1 1/2 years and has sourced some vintage and extremely rare spirits, more than 800 bottles in all and focusing on Chartreuse—he even has a Chartreuse from the 1920s on the list. (His goal is to be the number one Chartreuse bar in the country.) Other vintage herbal spirits are also highlighted, including Benedictine (from the 1940s and onward), Fernet (1950s-1970s), and there are other Pimm’s to try—he found #2, #3, #5, and #6. Vintage bourbons, rums, and more will be added too.
Obviously these come at a premium, so those who are just seeking a well-made cocktail will be happy to find an extensive and fairly priced list ($12-$14). The bar team is starting the first week with highballs and some shaken and stirred numbers, and the following week will ramp up with Chartreuse cocktails from all over, including some New York bar recipes.
And if you’re with a group, there are some stunning large-format vessels with enough to serve six people—Clements will be using old “Cocktail Bill” Boothby punch recipes (he found some that date back to when The Saratoga opened). Expect a fantastic wine list from BMG wine and spirits director Andrew Green.
Hours are Mon-Thu 5pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-1am. 1008 Larkin St. at Post, 415-932-6464.
The eye-catching custom chandelier suspended over the stairwell to the downstairs. All photos: © tablehopper.com.