With the recent openings of Monsieur Benjamin, Gaspar Brasserie, and Nico, French food, specifically casual cool bistro fare like brandade, steak tartare and escargots, is all the rage right now in SF. Here’s the hautest five French joints in Le City.
The newest restaurant to take Sacramento Street by storm is Nico, from husband and wife team Nicolas and Andrea Delaroque. A Paris native and fine dining vet (his experience includes Manresa and Atelier Crenn), Delaroque has crafted a compact menu of exciting and interesting French-inspired dishes that feature California ingredients. It changes nightly. The inviting space is handsome with gray walls, rustic wood tables, and wide open window panes.
3228 Sacramento Street San Francisco, CA 94115
2 Gaspar Brasserie
Restauranteur Frank LeClerc has opened his fifth and most spectacular French bistro in the heart of downtown SF near the Crocker Galleria. He completely transformed the interior — the small bar that was always downstairs is now upstairs with plenty of room to lounge in the dark, intimate space. The dining room looks down on Sutter Street and there's a chic sexiness to the restaurant that's reflected in the moody decor (tufted leather seats, sleek tables), the cocktails which are heavy on champagne (the julep features cognac, bubbly, and mint), and the food which is also glamorous (the crepes are layered with buttery smoked salmon and jewel-like salmon roe).
185 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94104
3 Monsieur Benjamin
Over in Hayes Valley, chef Corey Lee has opened Monsieur Benjamin, a restaurant that pays homage to the French cooking and lively bistros of Paris in a contemporary and sleek way. The space is filled with lots of stainless steel and black and an adorable little fox is Lee's mascot and a sign of his playful take on classic dishes. Although much more casual than Lee's two-Michelin starred Benu, no small details are overlooked - everything is meticulous prepared and intricately crafted.
451 Gough Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
If you're after a more authentic escapade, head to Gamine, a hidden gem of a bistro on the far end of Cow Hollow's Union Street. Walking into Gamine feels like you're being transported to France: the boisterous and friendly owner, a plump Frenchman named Stefan, greets you and escorts you to a small table in the crowded and warm room. There's nothing remarkable about the decor, but the food and bustling atmosphere will have you dreaming of your next meal there. For brunch, the eggs en cocotte with prosciutto are not to be missed and for dinner, a big bowl of mussels in a delicious brothy wine sauce are finger-licking good.
2223 Union Street, San Francisco, Ca 94123
5 Absinthe Brasserie & Bar
For a very San Francisco take on Parisian cuisine, you can't go wrong with Absinthe. The restaurant and superb adjoining bar are open all day long, every day of the week. It's the perfect spot to enjoy a bottle of champagne, platter of oysters, and selection of cheese. Feeling hungry? Order the croque monsieur or coq au vin, both are expertly prepared and ample portions. The best thing about Absinthe is it caters to your every whim and fancy. If you want a fine dining experience, you can get that in the dining room, but if you prefer a more casual setting complete with tiled floor and wicker chairs, you'll find that in the bar.
398 Hayes Street, San Francisco, CA 94102