As we reported several months back, the owners of longtime Russian Hill staple the Rex Café (2323 Polk Street) decided it was time to shutter and re-concept, and the replacement restaurant, Marbella (pronounced mar-bay-ah), is now set to open April 18. New chef Nelson German who most recently worked at Supperclub and previously was in New York at Jerry's Café tells Grub Street that he'll be doing what he calls "progressive Spanish cuisine," putting some modern twists on traditional recipes, with a few new techniques thrown in.
As far as inspiration goes, German says he's done a lot of traveling in Spain, and he's especially influenced by the food of Barcelona. "Also," he says, "I'm Dominican, and Spanish cuisine is the biggest influence on our cuisine." Back in New York he points to one restaurant as well as an inspiration: Sala One Nine in the Flatiron district.
He says he'll be using a mix of imported ingredients from Spain along with fresh local ingredient, and he's most excited about one dish in particular, which is kind of a twist on the traditional croqueta not often seen outside Spain: crispy stuffed goat cheese. It's a panko-breaded, fried goat-cheese ball with Camembert in the center, so the result he says has a "soufflé-like quality" when it bursts open. He'll be serving those topped with caramelized onions and wild clover honeycomb.
Below, the draft menu, which is still subject to change.
Marbella - 2323 Polk Street - 415-441-2244 - Opening April 18