Running a successful restaurant is no small feat, and it takes a village of dedicated employees doing everything from greeting guests to cooking your rib-eye steak just as ordered to making sure the flatware and crystal are sparkling.
And when chefs find a winning formula and get every detail just right, they want to see if they can do it again. Bay Area chefs are expanding their empires with additional restaurants, often more casual than the one that made their name. We’re all dying to see The Progress from the team at State Bird Provisions later this year, and husband-wife duo Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt of Tartine Bakery and Bar Tartine just revealed they’re opening a dream bakery and restaurant in the Heath Ceramics building in the Mission. That won’t open until 2015, but in the meantime, here are some of the spinoffs you’ll want to experience:
Teague Moriarty and Matt McNamara earned international acclaim for their original restaurant Sons & Daughters, a tiny spot that crafts distinctive dishes with produce from their own garden. They get to spread out at The Square, a neighborhoody space in North Beach that opened in March with brick, natural wood and a copper bar. Nibble on gougères (filled with fromage blanc and chives), beef tartare with housemade salt-and-vinegar chips or a local seafood-and-shellfish broth for two with artichokes and grilled bread.
If you liked Incanto, check out Porcellino.
Does it count as a new spinoff if a chef closes the fine-dining spot that made him famous and recasts it as a casual restaurant serving fine fare? Let’s say it does, since that’s just what Chris Cosentino of Incanto did. His Noe Valley restaurant has been rebranded as a more casual eatery and market that’s still very pork focused — porcellino means “piglet” in Italian. You’ll find salumi platters, porky pastas such as carbonara, chicharrones with rosemary and pecorino, and mortadella hot dogs.
Chef Mark Liberman made a name for himself with AQ, a Mid-Market restaurant that’s so hyper-seasonal the décor even changes depending on the time of year. His latest is just two doors down and focuses on dishes that are grilled, smoked or hearth-baked by the grillmaster. Expect fare such as charred octopus with kohlrabi, black truffle and green garlic, and a grilled pork chop with fennel and strawberries, paired with an amazing selection of sherry and craft brews.
If you like Benu, check out Monsieur Benjamin.
Corey Lee, formerly of Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star The French Laundry, has been stunning critics and diners with his exquisite and precise, Asian-accented cuisine at Benu. And we are eagerly anticipating his second act: Monsieur Benjamin, which is slated to open this spring in Hayes Valley. Lee describes his new spot as a modern French bistro where steak tartare is reimagined with a silky egg yolk purée, thin sheets of anchovy and caramelized onions, and sweet crêpes are stuffed with gâteau filling such as hazelnut ice cream, banana buttercream, vanilla sponge and cocoa nibs. Jason Berthold, an alum of The French Laundry, Five-Star Per Se and RN74, will run the kitchen.
Daniel Patterson of Coi fame has been a busy man; he just opened Alta CA in San Francisco’s Mid-Market neighborhood anchored by the Twitter headquarters. With its rustic modern interior, craft cocktails and relaxed air, Alta CA seems more inspired by Haven in Oakland than his prix fixe restaurant. The menu offers everything from a cheddar-bacon burger to Pacific black cod with broccoli, dumplings and black garlic.
Photos Courtesy of Julia Spiess, Alanna Hale and Mark Liberman