As of last night, Verbena, the spinoff of popular Berkeley spot Gather, has opened at 2323 Polk Street. The space was the longtime home of Rex Cafe, and then briefly Marbella, and it's gotten a hefty remodel with (wait for it...) a lot of reclaimed wood.
The design looks pretty, though, with some backlit shelving lined with brightly colored mason jars of pickled things, and a revamped bar area lit from above.
Chef Sean Baker has won raves over the past few years for his vegetable-focused-but-omnivore-friendly menus, and Verbena's follows along the same lines. Check out the menu here, and you'll see it's dominated by vegetarian and vegan small plates, with just under half the items containing meat or fish, a mere seven dishes. Dishes include artichoke with garlic and pickled green tomato; cardoons and parsnips with charmoula, yogurt, and kale; sardine with trout roe, cauliflower, and horseradish; and a beef shortrib with rapini, mint, and garum.
There's also a full cocktail program, and a wine list focusing on sustainable wines, curated by Meadowood vet Michael Ireland.
Eater has some swell photos of the space, so check them out.
Verbena will be open for dinner seven nights a week from 5:30 p.m. on, closing at 10:30 Sunday to Wednesday, and 11:30 Thursday to Saturday. Brunch is set to kick off sometime in the spring.