I wanted to take this opportunity of a new year to reintroduce myself to all of you, providing some positive updates on things that I have been working on at Palette over the last couple of months, and shed light on the massive amount of development that this small independent restaurant has undertaken throughout 2020 and into 2021. I am not one to shine my own stars, but the challenges my staff has faced, and the direction we have pursued in the last year cannot go uncomplemented. And so, I will get to that too in the span of this communique.
First off, let’s start with Palette. What is it?
I would assume that for many who have visited and have dined with us frequently in the past, this question may strike you as obvious, but an incredible amount of our followers and other persons in the community have had a hard time understanding exactly what Palette is. This is not surprising, as the concept has undergone almost constant evolution since it started in April of 2019 as a short term cafe-styled “pop-up” restaurant. We evolved in that year into a full service restaurant, developing the cuisine and refining the style, but not nearly to the fullest extent of the vision of the concept. At the outbreak of the pandemic, I immediately began renovating the space, with the intention of creating a more elaborate, thought provoking, and personally touched, multi-format fine dining experience.
So, as the renovations are nearly complete, and the vision closer to becoming a reality, allow me to introduce Palette, again, in its current and final format.
Palette is a seasonally inspired fine dining restaurant that draws its inspiration from the California coastline’s bounty and beauty - “Cal Coastal”. I work with a network of tremendously talented vendors and purveyors that bring us the best of what is available seasonally, and as a chef-driven restaurant, we scour the farmer’s markets 2-3 times a week to ensure the freshest and most diverse California produce that we can source locally. I also work with foragers that elevate our cuisine by providing us with wild, hard to find, unique edible California.
The Pacific Ocean is my biggest influence. I draw from its visual impact, from the diversity of fish, mollusks, and sea plants, from the sands on its shorelines, to the wind and fog that blow my way by virtue of its chilly presence. People, animals, and plants thrive here along the coastline, confirming almost daily to me that the Bay Area is a sacred place.
Part of my mission is to keep that specialness relevant and alive to guests when they walk through the restaurant’s front door. Palette can be seen as a bridge between the edible and natural Bay Area, and an urban one. We are located in downtown San Francisco, near the financial district, the Moscone convention center, and the museums out of Yerba Buena, so urbanism is admittedly also a part of our dialogue. As Palette is both a theater for social interaction and soul nourishing consumption, we hold a privileged position that allows us to impress upon our guests a message beyond what is written on the menu. So much of the experience of a restaurant is wrapped up in intangibles of space and its people, and so I invite you all to come see us in the future, and partake in the new vision of that experience that we have been working so hard to curate for your enjoyment.
Future guests to Palette will have 4 ways to enjoy the space:
1. The Terrace
The Terrace and Bar boast seasonally inspired menus, artfully crafted cocktails, and an ambiance that is relaxed and inviting. Like many SF restaurants, we built out our Terrace during the pandemic, a space that occupies the front of our building along the sidewalk. Though through the eyes of the CITY, this is a temporary allowance, we hope that it becomes a permanent fixture, as we have all discovered that SF, not shockingly, has great weather, and eating outside is really enjoyable.
2. The Gallery
The Gallery is an art destination by day, and a cocktail-forward lounge by night showcasing the talents of mixologist Trevin Hutchins. The experience highlights absinthe and personally influenced renditions of classics. Groups between 4-12 are encouraged, and the ad hoc nature of the “build your own” experience is supported by a menu that ranges from small nibbles to the likes of large format seafood platters. The art that adorns the walls in this space changes every 2 months, providing guests with even more reasons to come back to see, taste, and “consume” something new.
3. The Main Dining Room
The new Main Dining Room draws its energy from the central hearth and wood fired oven. This is where I have worked most intensely in creating food experiences that reflect my own sensibilities, influences, and personal touch. The menu is based on a prix-fixe 4 course model, with many additional supplements, caviar pairings, seasonal specials, and beverage curations. A la carte options are also available upon request. The intention is that guests will have the comfort to craft the scale of their experience based on their appetite and mood. Additionally, wine has a spotlight role in the dining room, with a two tiered serving kiosk built around the central column of the oval dining room, showcasing our selections, decanters, and esteem for the art of the fermented grape.
4. The Private Dining Room
The Private Dining Room is the brand new addition to our culinary programming. With a custom built-in wine cellar as the anchor of the space, hand-crafted Japanese-styed burnt wood “Shou Sugi Ban” design finishes from ShopFloor Design in the Dogpatch, and a long, live-edge cedar table to accommodate up to 20 guests, this space is intimate, comfortable, and well appointed for very special dining occasions. Menus here are flexible, drawing inspiration from the Main Dining Room menu, the Cal Coastal ethos, and seasonal highlights.
Part of the silver lining of the pandemic has been an imposed period of time to collect and reorient the restaurant. The Palette story has changed, and we are now looking to reopen a permanent institution on Folsom street in the SOMA. I am looking forward to this overture in Palette’s story, and I am excited for past guests to rediscover us, new guests to find us, and for the evolutions that will inevitably come as Palette presses forward into the future.