In sync with brisk fall weather, another intimate, clubby, neighborhood restaurant and bar has opened. Café Claude Marina is located on Greenwich Street in a historic turn-of-the century building near Fillmore Street. It’s the sister outpost to Franck LeClerc’s longtime success story, Café Claude, downtown.
Nostalgia is hot right now, and this 49-seat spot oozes old-world charm, with its antiqued-tin ceilings, burgundy flocked wallpaper, wood wainscoting, and vintage French chandeliers. In addition to outdoor seating, Café Claude Marina also boasts a six-person private chef’s table with a crescent-shaped leather banquet.
“I chose the location for Café Claude Marina because while there are plenty of bars in the neighborhood, there are very few casual places nearby for people to stop in to enjoy a meal. We offer a welcoming, friendly place for locals to have a glass of wine and approachable French food,” said LeClerc. He admits to getting miffed e-mails from Marina residents indignant because the restaurant is actually in Cow Hollow, but somehow, “Café Claude Cow Hollow didn’t have the right ring,” he says.
Chef Doug DeGeeter, wine director Sarah Knoefler, and bar manager Carlos Yturria have concocted menus that feature traditional bistro-style cooking and regional classics. The bar features a plentiful wine list with a focus on grape varietals from the Loire Valley, a selection of aperitifs, international and locally made beers, and a low-alcohol aperitif cocktail list designed to open the palate before a meal. Aperitifs include the Greenwich Stoli, with pineau de charentes (a fortified wine), lime and honey, and a citrus twist; and the Bitter Grin, with bonal (an infusion of gentian root, quinine, and herbs), lemon juice, and soda water. On a recent weeknight, the bar was busy but low key; it was not necessary to raise one’s voice to carry on a conversation.
Serving dinner (and soon, brunch), Café Claude Marina features French bistro classics such as charcuterie, cheese and pâté plates, onion soup grantinée, and steak tartare; and mains that feature a salade niçoise with seared albacore tuna, red romaine hearts, cherry tomatoes, green beans, and fingerling potatoes; roasted chicken with greens; New York strip steak and frites; and of course, Le Burger with a brioche bun, red romaine, tomato-shallot jam, and aioli. Desserts range from tarte aux pommes to mousse au chocolat and crème brûlée. The assortment of cheeses, served both as an appetizer and after dinner, is an offering of three or four different French cow, goat, and sheep cheeses with fruit compote, candied walnuts, and walnut levain. Nightly specials include short ribs and bouillabaisse. Espresso drinks are also available.
Francophiles, neighbors, and afternoon shoppers can all delight in this charming cafe poised to please a variety of palates and appetites.
Café Claude Marina: 2120 Greenwich Street (at Fillmore), 415-375-9550, www.cafeclaude.com; aperitif hour Sunday–Saturday 4:30–5:30 p.m.; dinner Sunday, Tuesday & Wednesday 5:30–10:30 p.m., Thursday–Saturday 5:30–11:30 p.m.