The refrains about our current restaurant scene are getting a bit repetitive — from diners, it's "too expensive" and there seems to be some ongoing fatigue with fine dining; and from restaurant owners it's the fact that San Francisco is impossible to do business in, and price hikes are going to remain the norm if they want to stay afloat. Four high-profile closings, all of restaurants open a year or less, struck the mid-Market and SoMa area this summer in a clear signal that things have shifted, and/or that there's an over-saturation happening when it comes to a certain level of dining experience. But, nevertheless, fall is a traditional time of year for restaurants to debut, and this year there are several exciting projects that are entering the fray with hopes high.

The Morris
Delayed slightly after an opening that was scheduled this week, Paul Einbund's new passion project in the former Slow Club space (2501 Mariposa Street) promises to be a notable one. Einbund, who's served as beverage director of Frances and Octavia and now has his own wine brand, says he loves "all things liquid," and has been working hard to create a great cocktail program as well as to collect great wines, which he's been doing for years, to fill the restaurant's cellar. As discussed a couple weeks back, dishes on the opening menu include crispy pork trotters with pear, fennel, and caper mustard vinaigrette; and a smoked Muscovy duck, either half or whole, served with rosti potatoes and meant for sharing. Check out the full menu here, and expect The Morris to debut October 11, or maybe the following week.


Finn Town
Last we heard, late October was the goal for the opening of Finn Town (2251 Market), chef Ryan Scott's new Castro project that marks the Top Chef alum's most ambitious restaurant project in SF to date. Taking over the former Barracuda space, the tavern-themed restaurant should be a welcome addition to the neighborhood — particularly since the menu and restaurant experience at nearby Cafe du Nord got scaled back. Chef de cuisine Jason Raffin, formerly of The Coachman and Scala's, will be contributing to the menu as well, which will include items like gruyere popovers, crab tater tots, and sweet tea-brined fried chicken. And yes, there's a full bar and cocktail program coming too.

Namu Gaji's stonepot with steak. Photo: Liv A./Yelp

Namu Stonepot
The Namu Gaji spinoff from the Brothers Lee is set for a fall opening, as we learned last month, and it's headed into the former Jay's Cheesesteak space (553 Divisadero). Namu Stonepot will feature Korean-style stonepot dishes not unlike the popular one served at Namu Gaji, as well as standard rice bowls. After this, look for Namu Noodle to open in Dogpatch at 2405 Third Street.

The Starling
We first heard in July about the upcoming project at 388 Fulton Street from former 1760 chef Adam Tortosa, and it's going to be entire sushi-focused, with an omakase menu. Tortosa worked under master sushi chef Katsuya Uechi in Los Angeles before coming to the Bay Area, and he says that this restaurant will be "more what I believe in" than the eclectic menu of 1760.

Katina and Kyle Connaughton plating up a dish of cherry wood smoked Mt. Lassen trout with a sauce of Japanese scallion, malted rice and salt kogi, served with a salad of radish, negi and young ginger bud, at Meadowood in December. Photo: Bonjwing Photography for Meadowood

Single Thread
We've been hearing about this very high-end, ambitious Healdsburg restaurant for many months now, and now Single Thread is coming together for a possible late October opening — though it was originally slated for both August, and then September. The restaurant is a first solo venture for husband and wife Katina and Kyle Connaughton, who's worked at majorly famous international spots like The Fat Duck and Michel Bras Toya Japon. It's a fine dining spot with its own farm and a couple of hotel rooms, and Eater already declared in late 2015 that this would "The Biggest Opening of 2016." The restaurant is just 54 seats, with only one seating a night, and an 11-course, Japanese-inspired, seasonal tasting menu that will be driven by a Japanese farm almanac of 72 micro-seasons. As the Business Times notes, the opening menu will be $225 a person, with optional wine pairings, and the cool part: the first two courses will be served on a rooftop garden patio, overlooking the vineyards and surrounding landscape.

Stay tuned for updates on all of the above.

Finn Town rendering courtesy of Finn Town/Jim Maxwell