The new plant-based restaurant concept from Adriano Paganini's Back of the House restaurant group opened on Friday evening in the former Belga space, on the prominent corner of Union and Buchanan Streets.
As we learned a few weeks back, the four-year-old Belgian sausage and beer restaurant was pivoting to something new for Paganini's restaurant empire: an entirely vegan restaurant called Wildseed.* Following a quick remodel, Wildseed opened its door Friday, and you can find the full opening menu here. It includes an assortment of salads, grain bowls, and plant-based small plates like brown rice, black bean and mushroom "neatballs" with coconut masala; and "Andalusian" salad with butter lettuce, red chicories, Marcona almonds, coconut bacon, black ash cheese, and a honey sherry vinaigrette; and beet "poke" with macadamia nuts, baby cucumbers, ponzu, and sesame and seaweed crackers.
There's also an Impossible Burger with grilled onions, chipotle aioli, tomatoes, butter lettuce, and optional non-dairy cheese; and a rigatoni Bolognese made with Impossible Foods' ground meat substitute.
The chef is Blair Warsham, who Paganini says "brings an omnivore's palate to the table," and who's previously worked with Back of the House on their fried chicken sandwich spot The Bird.
"I wanted to create this restaurant because I work across the street and this is a concept that I felt was missing in this neighborhood," Paganini says. "Wildseed is about giving everyone a chance to make a better choice... I am very passionate about this project and have been working on this concept for the past year, including spending time in LA doing research and working with a dietician on my own personal health journey."
Paganini previously said that while Belga was doing perfectly well in the neighborhood, "We're not in the restaurant business for doing OK. We want to be very successful."
Back of the House has become the most prolific local restaurant enterprise, with over 20 outposts now around the Bay Area. These include popular restaurants like Delarosa, Beretta, Starbelly, Lolinda, A Mano, and the new-ish Barvale, as well as the Super Duper burger chain. Wildseed marks the first time the group has ventured into vegetarian or vegan food.
And for those who aren't familiar, this enormous, 132-seat space began as a restaurant almost a decade ago with the buildout of Cafe Des Amis, which closed in early 2015 and the space was snapped up by Paganini for Belga later that year.
Wildseed is currently open for dinner only, from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Lunch and brunch are coming soon.
* This post has been corrected to clarify that the menu at Wildseed is entirely vegan, and all the cheese options listed are non-dairy.