Due to open on Wednesday December 18th is VERBENA in the former Marbella/Rex Cafe space on Polk. The project is from Berkeley’s Gather team, with chef Sean Baker leading the kitchen. You can look at the contemporary and seasonal California menu here, which has some bites ($5-$7), an extensive vegetable section (with six choices, $10-$13), and both smaller and larger seafood and meat dishes ($15-$28), like sardines, quail, swordfish, and duck meatballs. Yup, this is a perfect place for vegetarians and carnivores to coexist nicely at the dinner table. You’ll also notice the gorgeous pottery: most, but not all, is custom from Jered’s Pottery, as is one of the chandeliers.
Michael Ireland (French Laundry, Quince, Meadowood) is behind the producer-driven (and international) wine list; you can look at his initial by-the-glass selections here. There is also a full bar, with cocktails ranging from $11-$12, and four beers on draft (including Green Flash West Coast IPA and Linden Street Urban People’s Lager).
The space was designed by Abueg Morris Architects (Nopalito, Comal, Hi Lo, Roam), with room for 58 in the dining room (including bar seating). There is also an upstairs mezzanine with room for 12 guests, plus seating for 16 at sidewalk tables, weather permitting. There’s an exposed brick wall, plenty of wood, and a splash of bright cobalt on the back wall. You’ll also notice quite the stash of backlit pickled items on the wall flanking the bar—no trying to sneak up the ladder to get your own, okay?
Verbena’s hours will be Sun-Wed 5:30pm-10:30pm and Thu-Sat 5:30pm-11:30pm. Weekend brunch will begin in the spring of 2014. 2323 Polk St. at Green, 415-441-2323.
The former Verbena’s front door. Photo by Carmen Troesser.