The Tablehopper

Two chic new restaurant openings

The light-filled and natural-chic dining room at Sorrel. Photo: ©


Just opened in Laurel Heights (3228 Sacramento Street), and what a beaut Sorrel is. Anyone mourning the loss/move of Nico from Sacramento Street to North Beach will be happy to see such a stylish and considered (and utterly San Franciscan) restaurant taking its place. Co-founder and chef Alex Hong and co-founder and director of operations Colby Heiman have done a bang-up job of designing the restaurant themselves, and it’s a perfect fit for the charming neighborhood.

Sorrel started as a pop-up and now chef Hong (Jean Georges, Quince) gets to craft an entire dining experience in a dedicated space. You’ll note some Italian influences in his elegant Northern Californian/New American dishes, which all reflect the height of seasonality and quality local ingredients (including those from their roof garden).

Starters on the à la carte menu include oysters ($4.50 each), with sorrel, oro blanco grapefruit, and Asian pear, and warm sourdough focaccia ($6), which comes with the option of a green garlic bagna cauda dipping sauce or cultured butter (each $3). Vegetables and light fish dishes round out the starters, plus a spring lamb tartare ($16). Everything comes on ceramics from Mary Mar Keenan, and the focaccia’s clay pot dish was custom made.

Pasta lovers will be thrilled with the entire column of house-made pastas, from tortellini in brodo (stuffed with smoked duck) to the cappellacci in whey, with English peas, mint, green garlic, and sheep’s milk ricotta (both $17). Mains include striped bass ($34) with wild ramps, roasted artichokes, cauliflower, and the perfume of saffron and a dry-aged duck for two ($85), brightened with accents of fennel pollen and kumquat. Desserts continue to hit the seasonal notes, like a bright strawberry number with elderflower, black pepper, and white chocolate.

You’re in great hands with wine pairings from beverage director Samuel Bogue (wine director for the Ne Timeas Restaurant Group), from crowd-pleasers to some more esoteric selections. You’ll also find some low-ABV/aperitif-style cocktails — perfect to enjoy at the bar along with some bites.

The space is welcoming and chic, from the eight-seat marble bar with ribbons of green, to the blue-gray palette and skylights. Down the center of the room are two walnut slab tables (by Ben O’Hearn at Modern Millwork), with large suspended planter boxes and teardrop globe lights hand-blown by Guido Gerlitz at Effetto Glassworks. Small tables run along the blue-gray banquette (there are 50 seats in all). I loved the stylish, comfortable chairs, and the table setting is elegant and well chosen.

There is an exposed kitchen in the back, and the private dining room has space for 16, with bold artwork, more globe lights, and a record player, so make yourself at home. The music is a bit upbeat, and the service style is professional but relaxed — you’re supposed to enjoy yourself. And you will. Dinner Tuesday–Saturday 5–10 p.m.


Another brand-new opening is Avery (1552 Fillmore Street, 415-817-1187), marking the transition from Rodney Wages’s RTB, in the former Mosu space on Fillmore for the past year. This new incarnation has Wages continuing to partner with Matthew Mako (G.M.) — they were both previously at Atelier Crenn and Saison and are no strangers to luxury ingredients and Zalto glassware. New team members include chef de cuisine Kristina Compton (Plum, Atelier Crenn) and sommelier Daniel Bromberg (True Sake, Dassai Sake, Les Clos).

The nightly tasting menu options include the Cello Player ($89), 7–9 courses with optional supplements; Shades of Spring ($189), a seasonally changing 10– to 15–course menu (the name will also change with the seasons); and Avery’s Room ($289), in Avery’s private dining room (with room for six to eight guests), and showcasing a special menu from the kitchen. The modern American cuisine will feature top seasonal ingredients, with East Asian influences.

The artistic names are in reference to artist and modern American painter Milton Avery’s oeuvre — and as you are now figuring out, the restaurant was named after him as well.

Mixed beverage pairings, with a special focus on Champagnes, beers, and sakes (including sake-only menu pairings), featuring a range of artisanal sakes. The list will have an emphasis on junmai, nama (unpasteurized), and aged options.

The space was designed in collaboration with Noz Nozawa of Noz Design. It will now feature some deeper colors inspired by the Earth and sea (like charcoal, hunter green, and deep teal), plus materials like dense felts, mohair accents, and brushed brass, along with Italian-designed white Calligaris chairs. There are also custom Venetian plaster wall treatments from local artist Victor Reyes. Some elements will change in the room based on the season; for example, winter will bring tablecloths, while the summer may feature exposed wooden tabletops. Dinner Wednesday–Sunday 5:30– 9:30 p.m.


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Marcia Gagliardi writes a popular insider weekly e-column, Tablehopper, about the San Francisco dining and imbibing scene; get all the latest news at Follow @tablehopper on Twitter and Instagram for more culinary finds!