A while back we heard the news that bar star Reza Esmaili had bought Long Bar & Bistro (2298 Fillmore), and was looking to give the place a makeover. Yesterday, the Scoop caught wind that part of that makeover is coming from the consulting services of Erik Hopfinger, the former Top Chef-testant who recently left his post at The Waterfront, and who's been pals with Reza for years. "He used to work down the street from me," Reza tells Grub Street. "We've always been friends and had mutual friends and partied together and everything, but never had a chance to work with each other. Then I ran into him on the street recently, and it just clicked. I was like, 'You're my guy.'"
"Erik's known for sensible, American, approachable food, and a killer brunch. Stuff people want to eat. That's what I'm going for. I've lived in this neighborhood for four years, and it's got all the niche regional cuisines covered, with DOSA, Florio, the elevated Roman cuisine Matt Accarrino's doing at SPQR. What we've needed is a straightforward place with a good burger, nice salads, steaks, multiple soups, and a well mixed cocktail."
Reza's makeover at Long Bar, which has never been much of a food or fancy cocktail destination, has already begun. "I'm already proud of what's on the plate and in the glass," he tells us, and there are already four dishes on the menu conceived by Hopfinger.
But don't look for any crazy muddling or the kind of high-end mixology Reza was known for at Conduit. He'll be serving vermouth on tap, but that may be as cocktail-forward as the place gets. "The majority of my bar sales are beer and vodka drinks, so we're going to give people what they want but do it well."
The place will be getting a new name shortly, and will close for a few days in early November to get a quick facelift inside. Hopfinger, while not signing on as the full-time chef, will likely be working a few days a week in the kitchen for a while, and will continue to help redo the menu. As for whether the place will continue to be more of a bar, or a restaurant-bar, Reza says, "We'll let the customers decide that. If it's more of a bar that serves food, I'm fine with that."