Former Bar Tartine chefs Nick Balla and Cortney Burns ended 18 months of their experimental restaurant model in the Mission this May with one final concept: Smokebread, a menu based around Hungarian potato flatbreads.
Starting Tuesday, July 10, Smokebread will be available for lunch at the uber-sustainable mid-Market restaurant the Perennial. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement for Perennial owners Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz and Balla and Burns: Lunch has been a tough nut to crack given the Perennials bandwidth, and Smokebread needs a space.
“We have been talking about ways to partner together for years, and they have never done a lunch program,” says Balla. “It’s about bandwidth and what the offering is, and this one made a lot of sense for their space and location.”
After the closure of Bar Tartine, Balla and Burns took their talents to 983 Valencia, where they tested a variety of service styles, tipping models, and menus. They opened as a Japanese-influenced restaurant called Motze before shifting to an Central European restaurant called Duna (read Eater’s review here) and, eventually, Smokebread.
Balla says Smokebread will launch with a short menu of salads — which Balla calls “spoon salads” — with add-ons like flatbread and a soft-cooked and brined egg.
“It’s a great all-in-one meal,” says Balla. “The main tenet is they’re very juicy so you can eat them with a spoon or dip bread into it. We make a vinaigrette with all the vegetable juices and vinegars and brines.”
When Smokebread opens at the Perennial, diners can order at the bar and grab a seat to wait for their food. The concise menu is designed with limited staffing in mind, and as service progresses, Balla plans to add more of the dips, spreads and condiments that were popular at Duna. Ultimately, he plans to reopen Duna in its own location as well, though the hunt for the perfect space continues.
Beginning July 10, Smokebread will open for lunch from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., with plans to expand days and hours down the line.