When Bar Tartine closed at the end of 2016, the space’s future was uncertain. Chefs Nick Balla and Cortney Burns moved on with their own project, Motze (which is now a Hungarian-influenced restaurant called Duna), but the new owners of the prime real estate have been unknown. Now comes news that Stonemill Matcha, a cafe and retail space focusing on premium matcha, will inhabit the storied and prized Valencia Street address.
Named after the traditional method of grinding matcha, Stonemill Matcha is Japanese founder and CEO Eijiro Tsukada’s effort to assimilate premium matcha’s peaceful energy and harmony into San Francisco culture. That harmony also includes a collaboration with Tartine Bakery, who will provide matcha-related pastries exclusive to the cafe. There will also be a menu of Japanese cafe items that could include bento boxes and Japanese breakfast.
Fans of the bright green tea can, naturally, expect matcha lattes and the like, but the focus will be on exposing customers to a better-tasting matcha, and educating them along the way. (It turns out matcha ice cream isn’t a really great example of good matcha.) A “slow bar” will allow drinkers to watch their matcha being whisked; an actual stonemill will allow ambitious matcha drinkers to grind their own tea. Equipment like whisks and bowls will be available for sale alongside teas, so that customers can take the experience home.
Construction is already underway on the aging building, and includes a seismic retrofitting among other major changes; design will be by Boor Bridges. Tsukada says he’s aiming to open by the end of the year, though knowing San Francisco’s penchant for delays, stay tuned on that front.