Behold, your first look at what is destined to be the hottest opening of the season. On Friday, Grub Street took a hardhat tour of upcoming Flour + Water spinoff Central Kitchen (Florida and 20th), as well as its next-door cousin, daytime sandwich shop Salumeria. The restaurant space, as promised, is indoor-outdoor with a vaulted ceiling and slightly industrial feel (see an earlier rendering here), but be prepared for a dining experience that's both more high-end and much less Italian-focused than Flour + Water.
Chef de cuisine Michael Gaines, formerly a sous chef at Manresa and Gary Danko, says that he and executive chef Thomas McNaughton are working on a menu that highlights the flavors of the Bay Area with focus particularly on fish and vegetables. "When people talk about Northern California cuisine," Gaines says, "We want to part of that conversation." Gaines's fine dining experience and David Kinch-trained aesthetics pretty much guarantee some more refined plates than one finds at the more rustic Flour + Water, and you're not going to find pasta or pizza here either. A central feature of the new, very open kitchen is a wood- and coal-fired rotisserie grill that will be used to enhance meat and fish preparations using different types of coals. Central Kitchen is expected to open by late February.
As you can see from our slideshow below, the 49-seat dining room will be open to a covered outdoor patio, with a long communal table running down the center. Given the patio component, open kitchen, the menu, and a promise from McNaughton of a Led Zeppelin and Rolling Stones-heavy playlist in the dining room, we're envisioning a slightly dressed down version of the early days of Saison a welcome addition to the neighborhood now that Saison is shortly relocating downtown.
Next door, Salumeria will open about four weeks later, serving as a daytime component to the complex (around the corner, cocktail bar Trick Dog from the Bon Vivants is also set to open sometime after). The old-world-style deli is housed in what was formerly the cooler room of a German sausage factory that existed in the space over 75 years ago. The design keeps the raw concrete walls and casement windows intact, and adds a new reclaimed-wood ceiling using boards from the former Mission High School gymnasium.
Expect more updates on the project, and more menu details, as the opening date approaches.