3228 Sacramento Street
Phone: (415) 359-1000
Laurel Heights has a new dining option with the arrival of Nico, a brasserie whose laid-back air belies the pedigree of its offering. The spot is owned by Andrea and Nicolas Delaroque, and it's named for Nicolas' nickname. He's also the chef, and brings extensive experience from fine-dining spots like Luce and Manresa, as well as bistros Le Garage in Sausalito and L'Appart in San Anselmo.
Nico has been softly open for over a week, and the Delaroques are finally really ready to make it official. The menu will be market-driven and change daily based on what's available, but think French-inspired California cooking that showcases fresh ingredients. Delaroque's goal is not to have a fine-dining restaurant, but rather to apply those techniques to a more approachable setting and price point. The sample menu includes bites like oysters and goat-cheese beignets, starters like salsify soup and rock-cod "fromage de tête," and entrees like halibut with clams and snap peas and lamb leg with butternut squash and kohlrabi. Cheese plates and desserts like a clementine chiboust with granita and meringue round out the sample offering. (See the sample menu here.)
The wine program is helmed by GM Malcolm Brownson, who's put together a solid list as well as nightly rotating wine by the glass. He also plans to pop a magnum of Champagne every night to pour by the glass to discerning drinkers. For teetotalers, a couple of housemade sodas will be on offer, as well as Lillet-based "loophole" cocktails.
The former retail space's buildout took over a year, as the team had to install plumbing and build a kitchen from scratch. The result is a warm 40-seat dining room with cozy wood accents, plus a small pewter bar and private dining room in back that can comfortably accommodate 12. Opening hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from 5:30pm to last reservations at 9:30pm.