San Francisco is having a bit of a love affair with French food right now, and frankly, it’s about time. While our haute cuisine boasts a Californian label, its foundations lie firmly in French techniques. (New York is much more forward about its influences, although that could be attributed to its geographic proximity to the country as well as a lack of a defined “New York” style of provisions.)
Les Clos, a brand new café in SOMA only a little over a week old, is carrying the torch in the rejuvenation of French food. It is unabashedly French, inviting you into a cozy atmosphere to dine. The rectangular space hosts a wine cellar, cheese shop, coffee bar, and leather sofa for customers to create the experience they choose.
The menu is simple and efficient, broken into Daily Breads, Le Daytime, From the Larder, Le Nighttime, Coffee, and Wine. There is an evident focus on the wine list; “Les Clos” actually means the closed space of a vineyard, and Cara Patricia, the general manager, was the former wine director of Saison.
Naturally, I visited for brunch, which meant a sampling of their Le Daytime menu. The Les Clos Déjeuner – specialty toast with butter, fruit and cheese, came perfectly portioned. The Rye Waffle, which is gluten-free, arrived warm with a hefty dollop of lemon Chantilly – not whipped cream, as the American term would be. In true French fashion, my friend and I sipped complimentary glasses of Prosecco at 10 a.m. as we dined, ending our meal with a canelé baked perfectly with a crunchy shell and boozy custard interior.
Les Clos is not meant to emulate the grab-and-go lifestyle of America. Rather, as Cara explained to me, it is an homage to the Burgundy wine bars she frequented in France. It provides a sense of place, where locals and passers by can stop in for a pastry, return for lunch, and linger until dinner, enjoying quality cuisine and unfettered conversation. It is a restaurant that San Francisco silently yearns for, a small slice of simplicity in our web of technological chaos.
234 Townsend Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
Open M-F 8am – Midnight, Sat-Sun 10am – Midnight