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Clams in hay

Inside Gibson, a Glam Art Deco Throwback in the Tenderloin

It’s a stunning remodel with a menu built around fire

For anyone hungrily wandering the streets around Union Square, there’s now another dining option nestled within a hotel with the addition of Gibson. Lead by chef Robin Song (Hog & Rocks, Central Kitchen), Gibson is a sparkling art deco throwback, with a menu built around the wood-fired hearth in the kitchen.

The menu, which has an entire section devoted to grilled bread, is mostly designed to be shared, and much of it to be eaten with your hands. Song says he wants to do away with too much stuffy service, making a tasting-menu worthy meal more approachable, shorter, and more fun. “If were are going to take a three hour meal and fit it into an hour and a half, what does that feel and look like?” said Song.

The space was designed by Mister Important, an Oakland firm also behind Chambers Eater and Drink, with a sleek, Art Deco style look. Tiles, patterns, shiny gold surfaces and mirrors, and a mix of modern art are all part of that look, with a bar and lounge area, and 90 seat dining room.

The dining room at Gibson

“I feel like something in San Francisco has been lost lately. Anyone that is really conscious of technique and quality is too serious, and there are all these rules to dining and service,” Song told Eater. “I just want to have a fun place with attention to detail and amazing food.”

Song, who was on the verge of signing a lease for his own Korean concept called Junju, joined the project in January after another high-profile SF chef pulled out. “The hearth was already going in,” said Song. “They needed someone who understood [cooking with fire].”

Smoked trout with farmer’s cheese and cucumber on rye

Carrots cooked in embers with sunflower, medjool date and Moorish spices

Sonoma duck smoked over the grill with beetroot and blackberry

Cocktails are from beverage director Adam Chapman, and wines from Mark Nevin of Tofino Wines. Savory ingredients are a big component of the cocktails, which include a “fermented French 75,” with gin, citrus oil, verbena, and Champagne, and “Sea,” a concoction of nori gin, liquid kelp, sake, and sea beans.

The bar at Gibson
Patricia Chang

Sea, made with nori gin, liquid kelp, sake, sea beans
Patricia Chang
Clarified Japanese bloody mary with sochu, aged sake, heirloom tomato water, vinegar, spice
Patricia Chang

Junju, Song’s personal project, is still in the cards for the chef, but the stability and flexibility of Gibson — plus a gorgeous, new kitchen and restaurant space — made sense for now.

In the meantime, head over to Gibson for smoke, fire, cocktails, and escapism. Starting October 5, the restaurant will be open Monday through Sunday from 5:30 p.m.- 10:30 p.m.

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