After years of glitzy French cuisine and Art Deco interiors, the Hotel Monaco has unveiled the latest renovation to their ground-floor bar and restaurant. What was once the front oyster bar for the sprawling Grand Cafe has now become BDK Restaurant & Bar, an American tavern named for hotelier/Kimpton group founder Bill Drennon Kimpton and helmed by chef Heather Terhune (of Chicago's Sable Kitchen & Bar), who Top Chef fans might recognize from the Texas season that aired in 2011. Bartender Kevin Diedrich (Jasper's Corner Tap, Bourbon & Branch) is on cocktails.
Handling the redesign is noted San Francisco taxidermy fan Ken Fulk, whose interior work diners might recognize from Marlowe, the exclusive The Battery, or the $14 million renovation that went into Crystal Jade Jiang Nan. The designer's latest is meant to invoke the feel of "a modern public house," with lots of polished chrome, stark contrasting tiles, dark wood and a rack of antlers.
At 113 seats, including 17 counter spots, BDK is a more intimate room than Grand Cafe, and Terhune has also shifted the menu to a more casual mode, starring playful, modern American classics and comfort food. Bar snacks include items like Thai coconut red curry popcorn (paging Mr. Bauer) and bacon jam served with a baguette and brie. Mains include pickle-brined fried chicken thighs with mini buttermilk biscuits or spaghetti with pork & veal meatballs. "Bill [Kimpton] loved chefs," Terhune told the Chronicle earlier this month. "He was the front-runner of building chef-driven concepts inside hotels. He was selling chefs."
Likewise, the wine list will tip a hat to Bill Kimpton, who was reportedly a fan of Chianti. As for the drinks, Diedrich has mixed up a list of cocktails named for their strongest flavor, like "Smoke" and "Herbal Licorice," which lead the opening menu. For anyone who needs to get straight to the point when drinking in a hotel bar, there will be Old Fashioneds on tap, along with craft beer and wine.
BDK Restaurant & Bar opens tomorrow, March 26th, for weekday breakfast (7-10 am), daily dinner (4-10 pm), and late-night drinks. Weekend brunch service will follow sometime down the road.
Update: an earlier version of this post mentioned the restaurant has 83 seats. It's actually 113.