Beginning Thursday, April 7, guests at Villon, the commendably “eclectic cool” restaurant on the first floor of the San Francisco Proper Hotel, can once again slide into a tufted leather bench to dine beneath rimmed chandeliers. For the past two long years, the restaurant has been mostly inactive, open for breakfast, lunch, and cocktails primarily to serve hotel guests, and completely closed for dinner. Now chef Jason Fox, who arrived at the hotel just before the pandemic turned everything upside down, is ready and able to launch the streamlined but tech-focused dinner menu he’s dreamed of for years.
Fox, a former chef and owner of the Michelin-starred Commonwealth (which closed after a landlord dispute in 2019), says he draws inspiration from a number of sources when it comes to the new menu. For one, he’s concerned with the hotel’s aesthetic, which gives a modern update to “early pre-modern European styles.” He was also considering the restaurant’s location near the city’s arts and theater district and hopes to inject a little theatricality into the dining room. Finally, he draws on the variety of produce grown in Northern California—from Japanese citrus to Italian chicory—to give the menu a distinctly Californian flair.
The result is a menu that ranges from San Francisco classics like a seafood tower, to a dim sum-inspired scallop and shrimp roll, to beef tartare with the unexpected addition of pear kimchi. In a nod to old-school institutions and their elegant style of service, there’s also a two-course dinner for 2, starring a gemstone salad, smoked mushroom and beet salad, and lamb grilled over redwood – both rolled into the dining room on carts. The team is also playing around with some interesting cooking techniques: roasting carrots over hay to serve with date ice cream and grilling spring asparagus over charcoal.
On the drinks side, the clever San Francisco-themed Bon Vivants Hospitality (Trick Dog, Chezchez) menu, first curated for the bar in 2017, is back — with a notable new addition. Bon Vivants’ Josh Harris says the 7×7 modular menu, which features an impressive seven themed sections featuring seven classic cocktails for a total of 49 drinks, now includes a non-alcoholic cocktails section. Today, bartenders have an “unprecedented” number of zero-proof ingredients at their disposal, Harris says, adding that he’s excited to introduce two non-alcoholic vermouths from Martini & Rossi, as well as Ghia, a non-alcoholic beverage with a similar flavor profile to an aperitivo.
With 45 seats in the elegant dining room and lobby lounge, Villon remains relatively small but ambitious. The restaurant will continue to serve breakfast, lunch and cocktails and will be open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 5pm to 10pm beginning April 7th.