Chef Kim Alter, who's done a lot to impress Bay Area foodinistas the last couple years with her work at Haven and the former Plum in Oakland, is, as promised, getting a chance to shine on this side of the Bay with her own Hayes Valley spot. The Daniel Patterson Group (Coi, Alta CA, Haven, Plum Bar, the upcoming Aster) has inked a deal to take both the former Stelline space on Gough and Linden as well as the next-door space occupied by Las Estrellas to build a roughly 40-seat restaurant, as Inside Scoop first reported.
Hoodline had previously caught the abrupt closure of Stelline earlier this month, noting that a sign said it was only closed for renovation.
Alter's much awaited new concept is due later this year, and does not yet have a name. But she says she's been inspired by the little restaurant Septime in Paris, which has a nightly changing prix fixe in the range of $45. The plan is to do something a bit more refined than at Plum and Haven, and to get a full liquor license.
I've always been a huge fan of Alter's food, ever since her bold work at the short-lived Plate Shop in Sausalito. She's had a ton of high-end training, including work in the kitchens at Ubuntu, La Folie, Coi, Gary Danko, and Manresa, and Patterson clearly has great respect for her in backing this latest project. Back in 2012, in an SF Weekly review of Haven, Jonathan Kauffman wrote that Alter's food often goes "for brawn as well as beauty," and she's certainly a fan of bold flavors and unpretentious but often unusual combinations, as well as elegant plating. Examples: grilled squid with fiddlehead ferns, green strawberries, and a green strawberry-onion soffrito; a Buffalo wing-inspired salad with little gem lettuces, pickled celery, blue cheese, crispy chicken skin, and red chili puree; and a rich, Americanized version of carbonara with tagliatelle, smoked-onion purée, butter, and smoked bacon.
She has said that while she leans toward a casual style now, she's had plenty of kitchen experience at the very high end of things. "I'm from very strict French brigades where you weren't allowed to speak." She also says that being a chef wasn't her goal as a teenager. "I was on the road to becoming a doctor. I wanted to go Stanford, I was in all AP classes... but something clicked in me and I said, no, I want to create something. I want to do something creative."
For more on her philosophies and tastes, you can check out this interview by Eater from late 2013, and watch this brief interview on YouTube where she talks about her past experience, after the opening of Haven.
Look for updates here on her unnamed new restaurant in the coming months.