One of the city's most celebrated pastry chefs, Belinda Leong, has teamed up with a former coworker and fellow alum of the Manresa kitchen to open Routier, a full-service French restaurant nearly two years in the making.
Named for the roadside bistros in France that serve French cuisine to truckers and motorists, Routier is a "Franco-American" concept, as chef John Paul Carmona told Eater back in 2018. And it opens this weekend with a concise takeout menu — a test-drive of sorts debuting some delicious-sounding weekend treats like caramelized brisket, and a perfect-for-summer lobster "Grand Aioli."
As Eater reports, the pandemic delayed Routier's originally scheduled spring opening, but such delays aren't really anything new for SF restaurants — with permitting and inspections that often push things by months. In this case, though, while Leong's B.Patisserie has continued to do some brisk business with bread and pastry on weekends, the opening comes just as people are still mostly opting to dine at home, with some limited sidewalk dining options scattered around town.
The team is beginning with takeout service from Friday to Sunday only, and the food will no doubt be in demand considering the pedigree — Leong is a James Beard Award winning pastry goddess, and Carmona was a Chronicle and Star Chefs Rising Star during his stint as chef de cuisine at Manresa a decade ago, before spending the last eight years as a private chef.
Routier was among just a handful of hotly anticipated restaurant openings this year — a year when, months before the pandemic hit, was already shaping up to be another rough one for the restaurant industry here and elsewhere. And it's opening in the former Wild Hare space at the prominent corner of Divisadero and California Street, next door to Leong's seven-year-old patisserie.
The place is also offering a very French-style and reasonable prix-fixe menu, or "formule," with three courses for $39. This week the offering is a roasted beet and strawberry salad, followed by a choice of brisket or roasted cauliflower entree, and chocolate mousse for dessert.