Unless you've been living under the last rock in SF without an Oracle logo on it, you're probably aware that the America's Cup kicked off this weekend down on the Embarcadero. And with it comes a bunch of new restaurants and bars, including many representatives from New Zealand, one of the race's four competitors. The crown jewel: Waiheke Island Yacht Club, a pop-up restaurant from Tony Stewart, the acclaimed owner of leading Auckland restaurant Clooney. Named for an island off the coast of Auckland, the restaurant came together in a remarkable six weeks, with the America's Cup authority giving Stewart a last-minute chance to lease the open space at Pier 29.
Clooney chef Des Harris developed the menu and has flown over to get Waiheke going, though he'll eventually leave the restaurant in the hands of head chef Hayden McMillen. Though it was originally designed as a four-course prix fixe experience ($80), the owners took some guest feedback and decided to allow a la carte dining as well. (Lunch, meanwhile, offers two-, three-, or four-course options.) The plates, from venison tartare to ceviche to lamb, are highly artistic, on the level of what you might find at Coi or AQ—all the more impressive considering that the chefs don't have access to gas, and are putting together the menu entirely via induction burners, ovens, and sous-vide machines. There are a lot of imported ingredients from New Zealand, from the familiar (oysters, snapper) to the exotic (feijoa, a tart citrus), but local ingredients are also a major part of the presentation. Here's the full dinner menu.
Sadly, said New Zealandness doesn't extend to the wines, as a partnership with Napa Valley for the America's Cup bars the restaurant from serving any wines other than theirs. Happily, there is some New Zealand beer from craft brewer Moa, as well as water from Kiwi producer Antipodes. There's also a bar with full liquor and cocktails from Clooney's bar manager, Needham Woodward, as well as a bar-bites menu. Much of the staff has been imported from New Zealand for the occasion, so you'll also get some Kiwi charm with your meal. Here's the full drinks menu.
The 97-seat space is fairly spare, with an enormous raw wood deck, railings, and tables. Chairs are covered in soft leather hides, and there's a big view of the open kitchen, along with a communal table and chef's counter. Heat lamps hanging from the ceiling provide warmth inside the cavernous warehouse. Hours are 11 am-2 pm and 5-10 pm daily, with the bar open from 2-5 pm. They'll launch brunch service in August. With a set shutdown date of December 31, this one's definitely a limited-time offer, so make plans if you're hoping to go.