April 25, 2014

Memo From San Francisco: What’s Trending

Tech isn’t the only thing that’s booming in San Francisco. From Korean taco trucks to the flavor mash-ups at State Bird Provisions, the city is bursting with inventive dining options. The past two months alone saw the debut of The Square, an upscale tavern from Teague Moriarty and Matt McNamara (the guys behind Michelin-starred Sons & Daughters). On its heels came Charles Phan’s British-inspired Coachman, located in the increasingly trendy Mid-Market neighborhood. Designed by the chef’s mom, Debbie McNamara, who also designed Sons & Daughters and Sweet Woodruff, The Square features a copper bar, long communal tables, and brick walls. Longtime Phan designer Olle Lundberg spearheaded The Coachman’s look, which showcases organic touches like a wall of glowing amber panels filled with California honey and a curved bar made from a single 30-foot-long slice of cypress.

And things are just getting cooking. Culinary options to come include Bon Marché, a French-inspired brasserie and bar in Market Square (aka the Twitter building) from Matt Semmelhack and Mark Liberman, the duo behind AQ and TBD; Michael Mina’s fifth San Francisco offering, Pabu, a modern izakaya and sushi bar; a Chinese restaurant helmed by former Bar Agricole chef Brandon Jew; and Corey Lee’s French bistro, Monsieur Benjamin.

In keeping with its obsession with all things “craft,” San Francisco has been on a decade-long cocktail bender. With the opening of Trou Normand in March, mixologist Thad Vogler and the team behind Bar Agricole have given San Franciscans another place to sample refined spirits. Designed by Boor Bridges Architecture (featured in “Insider’s Take”), the airy restaurant is on the ground floor of the recently renovated 1925 Pacific Bell building at 140 New Montgomery, a Perkins + Will project that’s also home to Yelp and Lumosity. Trou Normand features dark oak cabinetry, tufted brown leather banquettes, and a long bar and tables made out of marble from the building’s elevator lobbies.

The tech industry’s “work hard, play hard” ethos has crept into the dining scene with a number of new eateries that attempt a sophisticated spin on the Dave & Buster’s recipe. The latest among them is Urban Putt, the passion project of former CNET and PC World editor Steve Fox. Local architect Matt Hollis, whose previous credits include the popular Mission Bowling Club, was hired to design the space. Opening in May, Urban Putt packs a 14-hole indoor mini golf course, a 9,000-square-foot restaurant, and two bars into a former mortuary on South Van Ness. Similar to Mission Bowling Club, which paired six lanes of bowling with a sophisticated drink and dinner menu, patrons will be able to dine on upscale bar bites, such as poutine with duck confit. The Bay Area-themed course includes shaking Painted Ladies at the 1906 earthquake hole and an underwater challenge outfitted with glowing phytoplankton made from 130 motion-sensitive LED lights. 

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