The restaurant scene in Hayes Valley is heating up, with the addition of Little Gem, a casual, quick-service restaurant from industry heavyweights. The concept focuses on food that is dairy-, gluten- and sugar-free, something that founder Eric Lilavois has struggled with in recent years. Formerly the chief operating officer of the Thomas Keller Group, Lilavois has pulled in longtime friend and coworker Dave Cruz (former executive chef of Keller's Ad Hoc) and Wall Street veteran John DiFazio as partners on the project.
The menu will focus heavily on what's in season, featuring customizable Market Plates, in which diners can create their own dish or choose from combinations of proteins, grains, potatoes and vegetables. There'll also be a healthy selection of brothy soups, salads and wraps, made with "NON," a cheekily titled gluten-free naan. And for those who'd rather drink their glutenless, non-dairy food, smoothies will be on offer, including a spinach and avocado-based Green dream. There will also be wine and beer, which we can assume will include gluten-free options as well.
Designed by Boor Bridges Architecture (Sightglass, Trou Normand) and San Francisco firm Tecta Associates, the 75-seat eatery will occupy the ground floor of the newly constructed 400 Grove building (which features 32 lovely and high-priced condos above it). Little Gem is one of many new restaurants planned for the area in the upcoming months, along with Dominique Crenn's casual concept Petite Crenn, a still unnamed restaurant from Kim Alter, and the upcoming debut of Cala, Mexican chef Gabriela Cámara's first stateside restaurant.
Slated for a fall opening, Little Gem plans to open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with brunch on the weekends.