While beloved Castro restaurant Frances still has not announced its official reopening date, chef Melissa Perello over the weekend announced a series of prix-fixe dinners at the restaurant with no set menu that she will be curating and cooking herself — a return to the kitchen after several years in which chefs de cuisine have done the day-to-day work at her two SF restaurants, Frances and Octavia.
"Throughout the pandemic, I was ruminating on this idea of hosting a series of dinners that would provide an opportunity to reconnect with our neighbors and friends, as well as purveyors and farmers, and create a different menu every week that’s a departure from what we normally offer at Frances," Perello writes in an Instagram post.
"I was inspired to keep the menu unwritten for these dinners because, truthfully, this is how I love to cook. I want to let the ingredients speak and create a meal around what’s freshest and most delicious in the moment. I want to be able to use fleeting ingredients and let the land dictate to me — rather than the other way around."
The dinners will run for three weekends, starting September 17 and 18, and then Thursday to Saturday the following two weekends — after which, presumably, Frances will reopen as normal with new outdoor seating.
Tables are going fast for the dinners but there are still early reservations available here.
"Words can’t begin to express my excitement to share these dinners with you," Perello says. "I’m grateful to have the opportunity to open the doors and reunite with our neighbors, friends, and family- you who have made it possible for us to even be here- especially given the events of the last year and a half."
Octavia reopened in late June with help from new Chef de Cuisine Nico Pena, who previously served as executive chef at Tartine Manufactory. Perello explained to Hoodline that the two restaurants could not both be reopened at once, because after long closures that lasted all of last year and much of this year, it is "more or less... like opening two brand new restaurants."
Frances opened to immediate rave reviews in December 2009, following Perello's acclaimed stints at Charles Nob Hill and Fifth Floor. The restaurant is known for comforting and creative take on California cuisine with some influences from Perello's grandmother, for whom the restaurant is named. It remained a relatively tough reservation to get, especially last minute, for eleven years, until the pandemic forced it to close last year.
Frances earned a Michelin star, a feat that was later repeated at Octavia after it debuted in 2015.