SF Gate

Trestle, the new prix fixe concept from Stones Throw team, opens tonight

Trestle, the latest restaurant from Hi Neighbor, the group behind Stones Throw and Fat Angel, will officially open tonight, Tuesday April 28, offering its $35 three-course prix fixe menu on a nightly basis.

The 49-seat corner restaurant is located at Jackson and Columbus — the intersection between Chinatown, North Beach, Jackson Square and the FiDi. It’s a primo patch of real estate, which Hi Neighbor partner Ryan Cole says the restaurant group essentially lucked into.

“A very good friend of mine actually bought the building. He called me the day he bought the building and was like, ‘There’s a restaurant downstairs and their lease is up. Will you do something here?’”

The space, which had housed decades-old Chinese restaurant Great Hunan, was in desperate need of some TLC, but Cole and the rest of the Hi Neighbor leadership team (Tai Ricci, Jason Kirmse, Cyrick Hia and executive chef Jason Halverson) felt it was potentially a “diamond in the rough.”

“We loved the location and thought it could be great. We just thought, it’s funky, but we can make it work,” says Cole.

Making it work involved completely gutting the space and essentially starting from scratch and rebuilding the entire restaurant, including a entire second floor under the restaurant where the prep kitchen and storage are located.

“When we took over, literally, there wasn’t a hand sink in the kitchen. You walk in and you have to see past that. You couldn’t see this brick, it was all plastered up over it. You couldn’t see the ceiling height, you had to climb up and rip off panels of the ceiling to see how high it actually was.”

To aid in the remodel, the team brought on Michael Baushke of Apparatus Architecture, who also helped design Melissa Perrello’s Frances and recently-opened Octavia.

Construction began January 1. The transformation, which took place in just four short months, is dramatic to say the least.

“Now we’re sitting here. Never would I have imagined this is what it would look like,” says Cole. “It’s gonna look too nice for our concept.”

As far as that concept, to handle the constraints of a small kitchen, executive chef Jason Halverson devised a prix fixe menu of his takes on comfort-driven fare like short rib pot roast and warm brownie sundaes. Three-courses will run $35, with an optional pasta fourth course for $10 more. (See below for the opening menu.)

One of the inspirations behind Halverson’s simple, yet exceptionally-prepared food stems from a meal that Cole had at Chez Panisse several years ago:

“I remember specifically one dish,” says Cole. “It was a minestrone soup with a pesto puree underneath. Just this perfect minestrone soup — and yes, they stress the farm-to-table and that is a big component for them — but for me that wasn’t what caught my eye. It was just such a simple dish, prepared well.”

Helping Halverson pull off the regularly changing menu will be executive sous chef Ryan Cerizo, who was promoted from his role as sous chef at Stones Throw.

The beer and wine list, curated by Jason Kirmse, takes a similar straight-forward approach. In addition to food friendly brews from around the globe and wines by-the-glass, Kirmse has created a cherry-picked list that’s divided into two categories: “Satisfying & Friendly” features bottles that are $50 or less. The “Refined & Splurge Worthy” section will offer wines that are $100+. But here’s the catch: nothing is marked up more than $40. According to Cole, these wines are about 60% cheaper than what they might run you at other restaurants.

“We don’t want to have a wine list that’s a showpiece. We want to have wines that are on your table.”

The team, which is known for its heavy focus on hospitality — partners Ricci, Cole and Halverson are all fine dining vets from Michael Mina — will continue this emphasis at Trestle.

“This is the cutting edge. The cutting edge is you go back to the basics and say, it’s about hospitality. It’s about hiring the best possible staff from front to back. It’s about getting an environment that feels comfortable and exceeding your expectations and not taking you for a ride,” says Cole.

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