The Tablehopper

The Commissary opens in the Presidio, Fleur de Lys closes

PRESIDIO

Now open is the new restaurant from the Presidio Trust, Traci Des Jardins, and Bon Appétit Management Company: The Commissary (101 Montgomery Street, 415-561-3600). This destination restaurant is on the Main Post in the former mess hall of the Montgomery Street Barracks. The historic structure integrates many elements from sites around the former post, including the tabletops made from a salvaged 125-year-old Douglas fir and lighting fixtures reclaimed from a historic Army gymnasium. It’s meant to have a simple and American look, with lots of light, and there’s even a shaded front porch where you can dine. Inside is more seating, including a communal table, bar seating, and a chef’s counter that looks into the open kitchen (there are 112 seats total). There’s also a private dining area (up to 20 guests) and a semiprivate space in the open kitchen. Working with Des Jardins is culinary director Robbie Lewis, and executive chef Reylon Agustin (previously at Jardinière).

The menu is Spanish-influenced Californian, with smaller dishes like sardines escabeche, cured tuna with radish and fennel pollen, and octopus with potatoes, olives, and pimentón; larger plates include striped bass with clams and toasted almond-garlic picada, and a fennel and baby artichoke paella. There’s a full bar, too. You can get coffee and a light breakfast in the morning, and there are both dine-in and takeout lunch options, with full dinner service in the evening.

The Presidio Trust announced there is also a big project moving into The Presidio Officers’ Club. The new project will include another restaurant from Des Jardins, called Arguello (50 Moraga Avenue), slated to open in September. It will be an authentic Mexican restaurant, with seating for 118 people inside and on the heated patio. During the day, the model will be similar to Des Jardins’s Mijita restaurants, with casual service intended to accommodate various visitors’ needs. In the evenings, it will become a more traditional full-service restaurant. They’ll have a full bar, which will definitely make that heated patio a fun place to be, and the restaurant will aim to be family friendly and comfortable for visitors and locals.

RUSSIAN HILL

Newly open is the San Francisco location of the Belcampo Meat Company (1998 Polk Street) butcher shop and restaurant. (They also have locations in Marin, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara.) What’s unique about Belcampo is their organic meats are humanely raised and free range on their farm in Mount Shasta; they also have their own state-of-the-art slaughterhouse facility, one of the few USDA-certified, multispecies meat-processing facilities to open in California in the past two decades. The butcher shop carries a variety of pastured, free-range, and grass-fed meat, and includes heritage-breed hogs, cattle, poultry, and rabbits. At their old-fashioned butcher counter, you can find both traditional and untraditional cuts. The butcher shop is open daily 9 a.m.–8 p.m. The restaurant is open for dinner nightly 5:30 p.m.–10 p.m. (11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday); it has great blue leather booths, tall ceilings, and some tasty steak frites on the menu.

NOB HILL

One of our city’s most well-known fine dining institutions, Fleur de Lys (777 Sutter Street, 415-673-7779), is closing. The restaurant has been open for 28 years with Hubert and Chantal Keller, the site of so many romantic dinners, anniversaries, birthdays, and proposals (the location first opened in the late 1950s, and Maurice Rouas purchased it in 1970 — he brought on Hubert Keller in 1986). So you can just imagine how many people flurried to make a reservation for one last goodbye before the restaurant closed Saturday, June 28. The Kellers brought in an extra hostess to handle all the calls, and most people said, “We’ll take anything that’s open!” The Kellers have been so touched by the outpouring of kindness.

Chef Hubert said that they knew at some point they were going to need to step back. So as a couple, they made the hard decision that now was the time. It’s a unique scenario, because they own the building and the restaurant. Instead of trying to sell the business, Keller said they wanted “less headaches” and will be selling the building. It will be a great deal for whoever takes it over — the Kellers completed a $4 million renovation that included upgrading the foundation and bone structure of the building after the fire in 2001. It’s such a rare opportunity to be your own landlord, so whoever takes over the space will have quite the plum. The Kellers will still be busy with their multiple Burger Bar locations and Fleur in Vegas, and chef Keller also hinted that he has another book in him, so he hopes to be able to dedicate some time to writing it in addition to doing more of his television series, Hubert Keller: Secrets of a Chef. Best wishes to the Kellers and everyone on their staff — it’s quite a family over there.

UNION SQUARE/DOWNTOWN

And now some good news for downtown: The beautiful Aveline (490 Geary Street, 415-292-6430) and its neighboring bar and lounge, The European, are now open in the former La Scene in The Warwick San Francisco. It’s a fantastic location, one that will especially appeal to theatergoers, industry folks who work in the area, and Union Square shoppers and workers. Chef Casey Thompson, whom many of you will recognize from the early days of Top Chef, is overseeing Aveline, while The European is bar industry vet Adam Wilson’s baby. Aveline has a lighter design sensibility, with a neutral and calming palette. There are two seating areas (one is closer to the open kitchen) with 60 seats in all (with four at a chef counter), two illuminated wine walls, tufted banquette seating in caramel, two kinds of chairs (including a very comfortable padded gray chair), and softly glowing teardrop pendant lamps and artwork (from Sarah Atkinson and Patrick Wright) adorning the walls. Thompson’s personal cuisine style is New Californian, and will highlight her relationships with local farms, artisans, and more (her French training and Southern roots are also apparent). Dishes include abalone with wood ear mushrooms, succulents, and pepperoni ($27), and fried chicken with kimchi powder and pickled vegetables ($26). Or you can sit at the kitchen counter, which doesn’t have a menu (chef’s choice!) and features cocktail pairings. There will also be a bar menu in The European, and while there is a burger, it’s not your usual bar food, with “chips ‘n’ dip” of chicken skin “chips” with charred onion, smoked eggplant, and trout roe.

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