Now open is the latest beauty in the Bacchus Management Group portfolio, The Saratoga (1008 Larkin Street, 415-932-6464), which is unexpectedly nestled on the corner of Larkin and Post — yup, right there in the TenderNob.
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 to 1907 (when it was the Elk Hotel) and then rebranded one year later as The Saratoga. Stannard says when they discovered the spacious basement, it inspired them to make it into a two-level supper club and bar.
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 has a more 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. The lighting is 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, and 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).
Larger plates include berbere-spiced chicken paillard accompanied with labneh, while a classic Flannery dry-aged New York steak comes in Cognac-peppercorn sauce. Desserts are full American nostalgia, from their version of a Ho Ho to Cracker Jacks to fried apple hand pies.
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 1½ 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.) 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 with highballs and some shaken and stirred numbers, and followed by Chartreuse cocktails from all over, including some New York bar recipes. Monday–Thursday 5–11p.m., Friday–Saturday 5 p.m.–1 a.m.
The ever-changing series of dinners at Mina Test Kitchen (2120 Greenwich Street) continue. Up now is Postcards from La Costiera, a concept featuring coastal Italian cuisine. Chef Adam Sobel’s menu highlights seafood like crudos, shellfish, pastas, and whole fish. The five-course, family-style menu is $59, classico wine pairings are $30, $40 for the riserva. Italian-inspired cocktails by Brian Means are also available. Tuesday–Saturday dinner.
The ladies at Lower Pac Heights’ Gardenias (1963 Sutter Street, 415-621-7122), Dana Tommasino and Margie Conard, have launched weekend brunch. The menu will shift up a bit weekly, but the recent version includes a soft scramble with tarragon, chives, and Fontina (um, heaven), and pork pozole verde with a fried egg.
And then there’s the socca cake with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, roasted fennel, tatsoi, herbed tahini, shaved Parmesan, and a poached egg, because that’s how they roll. Some toasts, salads, and sweeter options like a mixed grain porridge complete the story, and a grilled burger and even more light (low-ABV) cocktails will be coming soon. Saturday–Sunday 10 a.m.–2 p.m. — and don’t forget that lovely back patio with flowers and vines, a little oasis of peace and quiet.