Spanish cuisine is definitely the new hotness in SF right now, with Coqueta, Traci des Jardins’ soon-to-debut The Commissary, and the forthcoming 888 Brannan restaurant from the Absinthe Group all riding Iberian-style. The Castro is the next neighborhood to get in on the sabor, as the duo behind four-year-old Bisou, Nick Ronan and Damien Chabaud-Arnault, are opening a Spanish restaurant right around the corner, with the appropriate name of Beso. (Bisou means “kiss” in French; Beso means the same in Spanish).
Ronan, who took a working holiday two years ago to stage in 23 different kitchens across Europe, was inspired to move into Spanish food by his travels and by a stellar meal at the Spanish-run spot Cambio de Tercio in London. Chabaud-Arnault grew up in the south of France and spent a lot of time in Spain, so it was a natural fit. The menu will lean heavily on reimagined “new Spanish” tapas like potato croquettes with Worcestershire bearnaise, duck-fat roasted new potatoes served bravas-style, smoked mackarel with pine nut-gazpacho sorbet, and a cheese cigar pastry with quince jelly “matches.” Larger plates will include a Spanish riff on Bisou’s tableside beef tartare, as well as two rotating seasonal paellas. Ronan’s longtime friend Anthony Lemortelle, who works at NYC Spanish spot Boqueria, will be consulting on the menu as well.
The 54-seat space is being designed by Tecta Associates, and as shown in the rendering above, features a lot of exposed brick and marble. Unlike Bisou, it won’t have full liquor, but will have a strong wine list emphasizing Spanish vintages. All the produce for both restaurants comes from the duo’s farm in Napa, which they’re looking to turn into a food-centric retreat called the Northern California Bistronomy Center, where visitors can spend a day picking produce and cooking in an indoor and outdoor kitchen. Both that project and Beso are currently set to open in mid-June.