Adriano Paganini, the prolific restaurateur behind Beretta, Delarosa, Starbelly, Lolinda, Super Duper and more, is ready to talk about his plans for 2000 Union Street, the former home of Cafe des Amis. The "exciting, yet unpretentious" restaurant he alluded to in January will be a Belgian brasserie. "It's a concept I've been wanting to do for years," said Paganini. "I was just waiting for the right location."
Don't expect straight-ahead beer and frites. Just as Paganini's Lolinda is a loose interpretation of an Argentine steakhouse, the to-be-named Cow Hollow business will take its inspiration from the European brasseries Paganini used to frequent in his 20s. "It's not just a bar with food," added Paganini. "This is going to be a fun spot that's good for all day. And as always, we're very inspired by what it means to be a restaurant in California."
Lolinda's director of operations, Brian Reccow, is partnering on the project, and he'll oversee a beverage program led by Belgian-style beers: 10 on tap, many in bottles. Bartender Nora Furst will create a drinks list to compliment, with a few beer cocktails thrown into the mix for good measure.
The team plans to "lighten the space dramatically" with the help of designer Hannah Collins. They'll restore the black-painted wood to its original state, removing partitions, adding the requisite communal tables, and generally opening up the floor plan to make it easier for patrons to see outside. The predominant tones will be gray and natural wood. A retractable awning will help maximize the prime sidewalk seating on the corner of Union and Buchanan.
Although the team is still working through chef tryouts, the general gist of the menu is clear. Steak frites and moules frites are definites, along with lighter fare: salads, vegetables and Belgian cheeses. Paganini is also intent on using the wood-burning oven to fire out smoky house-made sausages.
"Union Street used to be a destination," said Paganini. "But now with the Mission exploding and Divisadero, it's been eclipsed. I want this to be the beginning of Union Street's renaissance."
The team is targeting an opening date of May 1. Have a look around the stripped-down space below.