With a name like the Grill, one might think that the new restaurant at the St. Regis in downtown San Francisco is a casual spot that serves up cheeseburgers and chicken wings. However, that’s not the case at this grill from executive chef Franck Desplechin. The Grill started out as an eight-week pop-up, but it was so popular that the St. Regis decided to make Desplechin’s concept the permanent restaurant. While the decor hasn’t changed much since the space’s old days as Ame, there is a lightness to the mood and atmosphere. Colorful accents pieces like bright yellow Glassybaby candles, plush satin pillows, green foliage, and artwork from the SFMOMA Artists Gallery at Fort Mason breath youthful life into the intimate dining room.
Desplechin has an impressive resume with over 15 of years of experience in hotel restaurants. Creating a menu for a hotel is much more complicated than crafting a menu for a stand alone restaurant. The kitchen is open all day and there needs to be plenty of options—something for everyone, from the family visiting from Europe to the couple celebrating their honeymoon. Desplechin understands the responsibility of a hotel’s food and beverage outlet, but also isn’t afraid to showcase his culinary prowess. At the Grill, there is the aforementioned cheeseburger, but it’s made with certified angus beef, caramelized onions, artichoke aioli, Swiss cheese, and comes with hand-cut fries. Hungry hotel goers can order this and a variety of other delicious entrees—including a 12-ounce Kurobuta pork chop, Australian rack of lamb, and pan-roasted salmon—from Desplechin’s a la carte menu.
If you’re in the mood for a real treat, let Desplechin take you on a tasting menu journey. Wine pairings are not an option—they are a must, the manager and sommelier makes thoughtful and provocative selections. Sip the most interesting Riesling of your life or have a glass of something more traditional like the Schramsberg Sparkling Brut Rosé. As for the food, Desplechin’s offering an affordable three-course meal inspired by whatever is in season. On one recent evening the meal started with a trio of sensationally briny and bracingly cold oysters on the half shell. A strawberry gazpacho is so smooth, creamy, flavorful, and unique it’s a revelation. Seriously, you’ve never tasted a refreshingly light strawberry soup like this before! Sea scallops are crusted in potato before being seared and plated with juicy heirloom tomatoes, crisp corn, ham, and barbecue aioli. The ingredients may sound like an odd mash-up, but they come together wonderfully. However, these dishes may be off the menu by now, it changes roughly every two weeks, which is reason enough to book a reservation at the Grill at least once a quarter. Bon appétit!