When Rodney Wages left his post as chef de cuisine of Atelier Crenn, he was coming off a series of stints in high-profile kitchens including Saison, and it was time for a change. Thus RTB Fillmore, a pop-up bearing one of Wages’ past kitchen nicknames and promising a laid-back fine-dining experience, was born.
Now the pop-up is growing up from its hastily conceived roots, evolving into a permanent restaurant by the name of Avery with backing from a team of fellow fine-dining pros: partner and general manager Matthew Mako (Benu, Saison), sommelier Daniel Bromberg (TrueSake, Les Clos), and chef de cuisine Kristina Compton (Atelier Crenn, Plum).
It’s matured from Wages’ initial concept considerably, which was a brief step away from fine-dining’s tasting-menu driven experience. Since moving from temporary set-ups in the kitchens of Izakaya Kou and Dabba, then finally into the former home of Mosu — the Michelin-starred restaurant with a stark interior at 1552 Fillmore — RTB adopted a more formal menu format, in part because of the space. “RTB was meant to be a casual, boisterous restaurant with a lot going on, and people being rowdy,” Mako told Eater SF. “When the opportunity came to take our current space, it didn’t translate as well. It’s a lot smaller and more intimate.”
In this case, intimate means seats for around 38 guests (including private dining, which will open later in the year) in a space smaller than 2,000 square feet. Wages and Mako are planning a two-week closure for a remodel with designer Noz Nozawa (Noz Design) to add some life to Mosu’s austere interior. And because the switch to Avery is in part an homage to Milton Avery, an American painter known for his colorful, abstract landscapes, a colorful installation from artist Victor Reyes (known for his murals around town) will be part of that inspiration. “The space is going to feel like a home,” says Mako. “Lots of color and texture.”
Avery’s menu will remain similar to that of RTB for now, priced at less than $100 with multiple courses and optional supplements like caviar and wagyu and a focus on seasonal ingredients. “It’s an evolution,” says Mako “We’re not starting from scratch.” To accompany that menu, which includes many Japanese techniques and ingredients, sommelier Daniel Bromberg is bringing a serious sake presence to the table with the addition of a sake-only beverage pairing. “We want to showcase the different ways sake can be food-friendly and fun,” said Bromberg. “And in the same way, with a pairing dedicated to Champagne.”
For now, RTB Fillmore is operating normally and accepting reservations; it will close in early March for two weeks, and will reopen as Avery. Stay tuned for more details.