Chris Bleidorn, a former chef in the kitchens of three of San Francisco's most acclaimed restaurants with a combined total of eight Michelin stars, Saison, Benu and Atelier Crenn, is breaking out on his own to create his first solo restaurant effort, Birdsong. Inside Scoop reports that by this winter, Bleidorn plans to open the restaurant in the now vacant AQ space in SoMa, which comes already equipped with a high-end kitchen.
In a release today, Bleidorn says he plans to create a "celebration of Pacific Northwest heritage cuisine" with his menu, "reviv[ing] cooking techniques of the past" in a space that will highlight the connection between city and nature." And those ancient cooking techniques appear to include skills he put to use at Saison including open fire and smoke, dry-aging meat, and fermentation.
Extending our "local" culinary palates to the north, Bleidorn plans to feature cold water shellfish and wild game like elk and buffalo, as well as berries, mushrooms, and other seasonal ingredients found in Oregon, Washington, Alaska and British Columbia. The plan is to have a 12-course tasting menu option with optional wine pairings, as well as an à la carte menu with dishes that can be shared, with hinted highlights including whole roasted aged duck, lamb shoulder, and whole trout.
As for beverages, the plan is to highlight wines and craft beer from the Pacific Northwest, but unfortunately the full liquor license that belonged to AQ is in the process of being sold, as Inside Scoop points out.
AQ closed with a sad air of defeat in January after five years in business, with owner Matt Semmelhack (who still owns Fenix next door) saying that he watched his profit margin plummet after the first couple years of buzz and accolades.
But the restaurant business has never been kind, and Bleidorn is following the path forged by many ambitious chefs including his former employers, Josh Skenes, Corey Lee, and Dominique Crenn, in busting out on his own to make a name for himself.