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TBD, AQ's Casual, Fire-Driven Sequel

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[Photos: Patricia Chang]

Tomorrow is opening night for TBD, the highly anticipated spinoff from the team behind SOMA's uber-successful AQ, including owner Matt Semmelhack, chef Mark Liberman, sommelier Kristen Capella, and bartender Tim Zohn. Located just two doors down from the mothership, TBD will be more casual than its predecessor, with a focus on live-fire cooking and a wide-ranging drink program. (It's the first salvo in an AQ expansion boom: Mission cafe Mélange and French brasserie Bon Marché are both due next year.)

TBD's focus is on live-fire cooking, with every dish prepared exclusively on a massive Grillworks grill and custom-built hearth. Former AQ sous Alex Phaneuf is leading the kitchen with Liberman, and his dishes are priced by tiers ($6, $12, $18, $24) and organized by type (Raw, Smoked, Hearth & Embers, Grill, Plancha, Sweet). The extensive options include cured wild salmon with a rye waffle and dill; hunter's stew with rabbit, oloroso sherry, and whey; sole with mountain spinach and lemon; and cabbage with local clams, hot peppers, and bonito. For dessert, there's fire-roasted s'mores and a rotating weekly soft-serve ice cream. Here's the full food and drink menu.

The drink menu has four different core competencies: Capella's extensive collection of sherry, with nearly 25 options by the glass or bottle; a serious beer lineup, featuring 18 drafts from locals like Cellarmaker, Calicraft, and Devil's Canyon; a 50-bottle wine list emphasizing Rhône varietals from small and progressive winemakers; and a "loophole" cocktail program from Zohn, which gets around the restaurant's lack of full liquor with twists on classics like a porter old-fashioned, sherry egg cream, and "nogroni" with fino sherry and vermouth.

The 50-seat space has a retro camping vibe that's intended to emphasize the primal cooking style, with lots of raw wood, cute red lanterns, hunting blankets, antlers, and other charmingly kitschy elements. Seating is a mix of two- and four-seat tables along the ground floor and mezzanine, plus communal tables and counter seats facing the open kitchen. There's also a small front lounge, intended for happy hour. Hours will be Monday-Thursday, 5-10 pm, and Friday-Saturday, 5-11:30 pm, with lunch and happy hour coming online early next year.

· More Details on TBD, the AQ Team's New Spot [~ ESF ~]
· The Big Reveal On AQ's New Project Next Door: TBD [~ ESF ~]
· SF's 10 Most Anticipated Fall Restaurants [~ ESF ~]

AQ Restaurant & Bar

1085 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103 415-341-9000 Visit Website