The Financial district has two exciting new drinking establishments with bar bites and small plates from acclaimed chefs—a seeming new trend where the food compliments the cocktails but takes a second seat to the act of imbibing fun libations. And Hayes Valley has what is perhaps our city’s first and highest quality fast food casual concept. Happy eating and cocktailing!
Now open in the nexus of the busy financial district at 115 Sansome St. at Bush is a new watering hole and eatery called The Treasury. Located in a historic Beaux arts building constructed in 1912 as one of the original headquarters of Standard Oil Company, the project comes from industry veterans Arnold Eric Wong (Bacar, EOS, E&O), Phil West (Bacar, Range, Third Rail), distinguished bartender Carlos Yturria (Bacar, A16, Range, Absinthe) and partner Steven Werney of Teutonic Construction (Twenty Five Lusk). The stunning interior was designed by Geremia Design (Hogwash, Coffee Bar, Churchill) and features double-height ceilings, marble tables and leather seating. The long and striking bar is composed of beautiful black soapstone and winds its way around to a Victorian style sitting area with a red leather banquette. The entire space feels like a European bistro with its massive chandeliers and brass finishes.
Photo by Tory Putnam
The cocktails—while both sophisticated and playful—are designed to be served in a quick fashion as opposed to the last trend of drinks so complicated they needed a 10-minute lead time. Start off with the classic Standard Oil (Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey, Dolin rouge vermouth, Drambuie). Other favorites include the Glass Ceiling (Absolut vodka, bergamot, Manzanilla sherry) and the Bamboozled (Pommard de Normandie, amontillado sherry). There is also an excellent rose wine on tap and a selection of bubbles to cleanse your palette between libations. The kitchen is focused mainly on bar bites rather than full entrees. The chilled white gulf shrimp (“Bloody Mary cocktail sauce & little gem lettuces) is one of the best renditions of the ubiquitous and usually not very good “shrimp cocktail.” There is an excellent chicken liver mousse (giardiniera, cornichon & toast), Treasury pigs in a blanket (savora mustard) and the Louisiana blue crab roll (Pinkie’s poppy seed roll, cabbage and fennel). The Reggiano parmesan gougeres make for the perfect light bar bite with lots of flavor. The kitchen also offers several types of caviar service as well as a daily rotation of oysters on the half shell. The Treasury is open daily from 3pm until midnight, closed Sundays.
Leo’s Oyster Bar
Just a few blocks over from The Treasury is another newcomer to the financial district. Located in the former Wexler’s space at 568 Sacramento St. at Sansome, Leo’s Oyster Bar hearkens back to the glamorous 1950s era. Co-owners Ana Weinberg and James Nicholas (Park Tavern, Marlowe, The Cavalier) hired designer Ken Fulk and Jon de La Cruz to design the 40-seat space. Inspiration came from a specific episode of Mad Men where Roger Sterling and Don Draper spend hours in a NYC restaurant sipping martinis and indulgently downing oysters. The jewel box-like space features a long onyx-topped bar that is lit from below, casting a glamorous orange glow throughout the space. The main dining room has leather banquettes, rich mahogany paneling, hanging ferns, gilt scallop shell sconces and a hammered brass raw bar.
Photo by Patricia Chang
Chef Jennifer Puccio’s seafood-centric menu of mostly small plates is designed to compliment the cocktails and Champagne. Start off with Leo’s deviled egg with wing-dried oyster or the tasty oyster carbonara with crispy pancetta. There are a variety of playful bites such as the house-made tater tots (brandade and tapenade) and the French fries with “Marlow” burger dressings. Other must try dishes include the sea urchin toast (ginger, soy, scallion) and the fluke crudo (celery root, apples, preserved lemon and celery). If you are looking to make a more substantial meal there are a few larger plates including a very delicious New England style lobster roll with French fries. Leo’s Oyster Bar is open daily from 3pm on, closed Sundays. Lunch service will start soon.
Hayes Valley has a new fast-casual concept located inside a brand new building at 400 Grove St. at Gough. The project is from Eric Lilavois (former COO at the Thomas Keller Group), chef Dave Cruz (formerly chef de cuisine of Ad Hoc) and John DiFazio (CFO). The food is focused on farm to table N. California cuisine and showcases ingredients from prominent family farms like Marin Sun and 5 Dot Ranch. All of the dishes are free of dairy, gluten and refined sugars. The 2,000 square foot industrial space was designed by Boor Bridges Architecture (Sightglass, Trou Normand) and has floor-to-ceiling windows and Douglas fir wood chairs made by Treasure Island-based Four Quarter. All of the wood for the bar, shelves and ledges comes from a single reclaimed American elm tree in Marin.
Photo by Kimberly Hasselbrink
Cruz’s menu allows guests the freedom to build their own dishes from a selection of vegetables, grains and potatoes, meat and fish or choose from chef-composed plates such as the King of Hayes (King Salmon, red quinoa, kalamata olives, almonds, wilted spinach, lemon scallion vinaigrette). Two dishes that really stood out in terms of freshness, taste and presentation are the red quinoa and avocado salad (Belgian endive, frisee, pickled red onions, lemon and olive oil) and the grilled trumpet mushrooms on Rancho Gordo beans and rice with Tuscan kale and a tomato-bacon stew. Little Gem is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
James is a food writer and Bay Area chef who owns and runs a private dinner party and cooking class business specializing in regional Italian and Spanish cuisine. See CookWithJames.com