Off Menu Scoop: Alembic is Changing Chefs!
OFF MENU IS SPONSORED BY EMPEROR NORTON’S BOOZELAND THE TENDERLOIN’S NEWEST HISTORIC DIVE. HAPPY HOUR NOON – 7PM
photo from SquirrelFarts (yes that’s the real name)
Restaurants are in a perpetual state of flux. A dishwasher at Gracias Madre is caught smuggling quinoa back to the Bolivian farmers who originally produced it and is shown his walking papers; a pastry chef and assistant manager at Gary Danko, nude except for a couple of heavy parkas, are interrupted in the walk-in freezer mid-coitus, white powder rimming their quivering nostrils. They are quickly shown the door, the manager struggling to hide his huge Levitra-fueled boner as he walks out into the cold night air of Ghirardelli Square.
Nothing so sordid is going on at Alembic, a restaurant/bar in the Upper Haight whose cocktail program has had a huge influence on the S.F. drinking scene for around a decade. The main shift that I’m here to report is one of culinary leadership: after less than a year since their kitchen reopened after a long renovation, executive chef Ted Fleury is bowing out. His chef de cuisine Dave Faro, a man of long experience in many a fine Bay Area kitchen, is moving into the position. He’s already had a strong hand in guiding the menu, keeping it creative, seasonal and palatally stimulating. Some classics, (like the jerk-spiced duck heart skewers) remain, but most everything else is subject to constant change; chances are you won’t even miss the old as the new never fails to delight and surprise.
The menu’s structure, however, will be altered somewhat as soon as the restaurant itself metastasizes further into the space left vacant by the dearly-departed Red Vic Movie Theater. Mr. Faro and I are acquaintances, having worked under the same roof at Verbena over in Russian Hill during that restaurant’s too-short run. He came out to say hello and fill me in on some details, making mention of a charcuterie program currently in production, with various meats curing themselves at an un-disclosed location into a state of funky, delicious umami. Also, some large, family-style plates will be available, especially for those customers who avail themselves of the large communal table that is planned to occupy part of the new space. The bar itself, Alembic’s original raison d’être, will also be extended by a few seats.
As for the departing chef, things are so amicable between him and his former baby that he’ll actually be filling in as head chef for three weeks in September while his former underling goes on a (presumably) much-needed vacation in France before being swallowed by the all-consuming demands of running one of the best kitchens in town. After relinquishing control for the last time, Mr. Fleury will dedicate himself full time to Stag Dining, a company based in San Francisco that is involved in everything from catering to clandestine dining. Be not afraid: we’re not quite losing him to the voracious maw of the better-paying private dining sector which is quickly leeching talent out of our restaurant scene; Stag Dining holds monthly public events at Off the Grid, no reservations required.
1725 Haight St.,