As Noosh, a self-described Eastern Mediterranean restaurant on Eater’s national list of the most anticipated of 2018, inches ever nearer to an opening date in Lower Pac Heights, it’s also adding a dash more talent to the bill. Joining chefs Laura and Sayat Ozyilmaz (a married couple who bring experience from Saison, Mourad, Eleven Madison Park, and Blue Hill at Stone Barns) and partner John Litz (also a Lazy Bear partner), is beverage director Andrew Meltzer. To accompany Noosh’s all-day dishes, from breakfast sandwiches to falafel and spreads like muhammara (made with California almonds and fresh pepper), Meltzer will offer tea, coffee, beer, wine, cocktails, and cider.
Meltzer is coming off four years as president of the US Bartenders Guild’s SF Bay Area branch, and five years at North Beach classic 15 Romolo, where he was bar manager. In 2016, he was the US bartender of the year at the United States Bartender’s Guild’s annual World Class competition.
And as might be expected, he’s highly opinionated when it comes to drinks. “Cocktails sometimes have nothing to do with the names of what the hell you’re ordering, so you need symbols for tall and fizzy,” Meltzer complains. That’s one thing at cocktail bars, where there’s no food menu to dwell on. But when pairing drinks with food, “I don’t want a key to explain what I’m ordering.”
By contrast, Noosh will serve 8 to 12 cocktails “with names you’ve heard of” or can quickly place. There’s a martini, a Noosh mule (on tap for speed), an Irish coffee variant, and so on, with brief descriptions of each.
But ease of ordering doesn’t mean Meltzer’s drinks are simple. That martini, for example, is made with St. George vodka or Tanqueray gin and a preserved lemon brine from Noosh’s kitchen for a complex, savory element. Another focus of Meltzer’s beverage program will be shrubs — fermented vinegar-based syrups — including a cocoa nib shrub. He’ll add that to a Westland American single malt whiskey and soda highball (with a rim partially coated in Valrhona chocolate powder, eggplant ash, and clove powder).
For wine, Noosh will offer 16 options by the glass: Three sparkling, three amber and rosé, five whites, and five reds. A major emphasis will be on “ancient world” wines — think Lebanese reds in lieu of Bourdeaux — tracing the roots of winemaking to regions like Georgia, where grapes are fermented in buried clay vessels.
“Orange wines are trendy, but the Georgians invented them,” says Meltzer. Californian natural wines will also be on he list, as will California beer, some local ciders, and some international ciders.
For coffee, Noosh will serve Oakland’s Mr. Espresso. Teas are to include some wild-foraged options from an Armenian-Georgian co-op. And for something you literally can’t buy anywhere else in SF, chef Sayat Ozyilmaz’s father is sending wild pistachio coffee to Noosh from his home in Istanbul. That’s akin to chicory, ground and mixed along with coffee beans for a nutty flavor and aroma.
Stay tuned as Noosh continues to come into focus at 2001 Fillmore Street, where the team is finishing a buildout of the space.