Bellota, the upcoming Spanish restaurant from the team behind Hayes Valley classic Absinthe, is nearing completion. The ambitious project has been in the works for what seems like forever (though it's really been more like three years), and is now slated for a mid-May opening.
The restaurant takes its name from a very fancy cured ham, Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, made from pigs that are exclusively fed acorns (bellota). Along those lines, chef Ryan McIlwraith (former chef de cuisine of Coqueta) is planning a traditionally Spanish menu based around the space's eight-foot wood burning hearth and oven, where he'll be roasting whole animals and fish, vegetables and paellas. Pintxos (Basque-style tapas), bocadillos, traditional tapas, family-style plates and possibly one of the areas largest selections of paellas will also be featured. Spanish-inspired desserts will come from Stephanie Kimura, Absinthe Group's executive pastry chef; drinks will also skew Spanish, from Johnny Raglin, the bar director for the restaurant group. Think sherry, sangria and dry cider, as well as Spain's favorite cocktail, the "gintonic."
The 5,300-square-foot space is located at 888 Brannan Street, a four-story building that also houses the Gift Center and Jewelry Mart. It will offer a mix of communal tables, high-tops and booths, as well as a wrap-around seating facing the open kitchen. And, there'll be "live lounge performances" with a baby grand piano (enhanced by a super high-end sound system from Berkeley's Meyer Sound).
Stay tuned for photos and more details on the menu as opening day approaches.