It’s been a long eight years since husband-and-wife Jeff Banker and Lori Baker closed their eponymous San Francisco restaurant, Baker & Banker.
Now, they’re back — in a big way — cooking and baking as partners alongside good friend and fellow pastry chef-restaurateur-owner Aaron Toensing at Maybeck’s in San Francisco’s Marina district.
It’s a reunion for the three, who first met way back when they were all working at iconic Postrio in San Francisco.
Banker and Baker, who did private chef gigs and consulting in the ensuing years, are clearly happy to be back at a restaurant, as was evident from their smiles last weekend, when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.
If you’re like me, and still dining primarily outdoors, you’ll be glad to know that Maybeck’s recently added a couple of outdoor tables on the sidewalk. They might look a little spartan, as they’re small high-top tables with bar stools. But they’re dressed up with a bud vase and a heater in case it gets chilly.
Plus, if you haven’t been to the Marina lately, you’ll discover it’s really hopping post-pandemic, especially with outdoor dining. Many of the restaurants have sidewalk tables or parklets, creating a very festive street scene that can’t help but draw you in.
Opened barely a month ago, it’s already drawing crowds, as evidenced by what I saw last Wednesday night when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant. Even at 5 p.m. on a school night, every seat was taken at the eye-catching bar done up in glazed emerald tiles, along with about half the tables.
Kaiyo Rooftop is the sister property to Kaiyo restaurant in the Cow Hollow neighborhood, both of which specialize in Nikkei cuisine, a blend of Japanese and Peruvian In fact, a similar Kaiyo restaurant is expected to open on the ground floor of the hotel by the end of the year to serve more substantial fare like its Union Street sibling. In contrast, Kaiyo Rooftop’s menu is designed to be more bar food. Even so, it’s ample food for a meal.
Just be sure to dress in layers, and don’t forget a scarf or hat, too. That’s because the winds can be fierce up top, and the chill will definitely set in once the sun goes down, despite heaters being all around.
I’m sure I’m not alone in mourning the 2019 closure of Michelin-starred Commonwealth in San Francisco due to a rent dispute. With its laid-back vibe, skillful ingredient-driven cooking, and a tasting menu with a price that didn’t leave you shell-shocked, Commonwealth was the kind of place every city would be glad to have.
Its chef-owner Jason Fox moved on — in a big way. He went from overseeing one restaurant to three when he was scooped up by The Proper Hotel in downtown San Francisco. As its executive chef, he now oversees Villon restaurant, the trendy Charmaine’s rooftop bar, and La Bande, formerly a coffee shop that he’s since turned into a tapas place.
Fox’s arrival was to have been heralded with a big splash. But because it occurred in January 2020 — two months before all restaurants would be forced to shut down due to a worldwide pandemic — that never really came to fruition. Instead, he was left to deal with navigating an ever-changing roster of health mandates.
With the Bay Area in a much better place than it was last year, Fox has now been able to roll out the plans he had all along.
A couple weeks ago, I was invited in as a guest to enjoy an overnight stay at the hotel, as well as dinner at the newly revamped La Bande, a compact yet cozy space resembling a Spanish mercado with a few indoor seats, as well as tables outside, which is where my husband and I dined.
How fortunate is San Francisco to have the only Michelin two-starred Mexican restaurant in the world?
Now, chances are that in your lifetime, you’ve had more than your fill of tacos and tostadas.
But not the way they and other dishes are interpreted at Californios.
This is Mexican cuisine that is elevated, elegant, exhilarating.
Last year, Californios relocated from its snug spot in the Mission District to a roomier property in SoMa, which formerly housed Bar Agricole. Following a remodel and the throes of the pandemic, it opened its doors earlier this spring.
While Bar Agricole didn’t really make use of its sizeable front patio, Californios certainly has. High walls encircle it, painted deep, matte charcoal gray like the restaurant’s interior. Steel beams run across the top, from which large light fixtures dangle. In case of rain, there is a retractable roof, with space between it and the top of the walls to allow for air flow.
My husband and I sat at one of the white tablecloth-draped tables outside, which had heaters both above it and to the side to provide ample warmth, no matter how chilly the evening. Done up with potted plants, the patio has a chic starkness to it.