Charles Phan has a penchant for keeping his projects under wraps until the last possible second, and so basically no information besides the name leaked on The Coachman, his revamp of the former Heaven's Dog, until this week—even though it's set to open on Monday. Tablehopper and Inside Scoop broke the story simultaneously, with an interesting twist: in a departure for Phan, the restaurant will serve British food. Ross Wunderlich, a former Hard Water sous, will be running the kitchen, with dishes inspired by Fergus Henderson's St. John and other farm-to-table British restaurants. As others have already observed, this is something of an unusual move, given that SOMA already has an upscale British restaurant, The Cavalier, only two and a half blocks away. Whether the market will have room for both is yet to be seen.
Phan's reasons for pursuing the project are familial: the restaurant is named for the Powell Street British restaurant where Phan and his father both worked (as a busser and janitor, respectively) when they first emigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam in the late '70s. It's meant to be a tribute to the elder Phan, who sadly passed away seven years ago. Dishes will include modernized takes on prime rib, Waldorf salad, Yorkshire pudding, blood sausage, and other across-the-pond delicacies, and Phan's right-hand barman Erik Adkins will be concocting takes on punches, cobblers, flips, and other 19th-century favorites. Two English-style ales will be served on cask.
Heaven's Dog, a Chinese spot from Phan which closed in 2012 after a flood, and then stayed closed due to poor business (a fate that also befell its very similar Mission sister, Wo Hing General Store), will still be recognizable to those who went there; Olle Lundberg's decor has been tweaked only a little bit, with gray fixtures replacing red and the wall between the kitchen and lounge area coming down. The glowing honey walls from Out the Door's Westfield location (another of Phan's recent casualties) have also re-emerged in the space. The biggest change is that the former dining room will now be an extension of the lounge, and the former private-dining room will be the dining room. As mentioned above, The Coachman is set to open on Monday; we'll have photos and full food and drink info then.