Bay Area bar luminaries Thad Vogler (Bar Agricole, Trou Normand, Obispo) and Jon Santer (Emeryville’s Prizefighter) have taken Beyoncé’s surprise-album-drop approach to their new San Francisco bar and restaurant, Nommo. The sizable new destination for charcuterie, oysters, burgers, and cocktails opened Tuesday without advanced fanfare at 396 Harrison Street, tucked inside a shiny new residential building in San Francisco’s condo-rich Rincon Hill neighborhood.
Readying Nommo in relative secrecy had “plenty to do” with Vogler’s recent experience opening Obispo, the bar owner says. One of the city’s most delayed and drawn-out openings in recent memory, Obispo finally greeted customers with rum drinks and Caribbean food in December. Five years after signing his lease, opening Obispo “couldn’t be anything other than anticlimactic,” Vogler said.
With Nommo, he and Santer instead played their cards close to their chests, deciding to open as soon as they could. “We thought, when it’s possible to open, let’s open. So we just started making drinks and serving charcuterie.”
Those drinks are more Prizefighter than Bar Agricole, says Vogler — although there’s plenty of rum to go around. Santer, who opened seminal SF bar Bourbon & Branch, where he met Vogler, has developed a reputation for un-fussy, patio-friendly cocktails at Prizefighter.
Nommo’s cocktails, which lack fancy, confusing names, include a “tequila cocktail” with blanco, vermouth rosso, and bitters; a “PX Old Fashioned” with rye, pedro ximenez, and bitters; and “La Iguana,” with mezcal, vermouth bianco, and chili. There’s also a full selection of beer and wine, several sherries, and a “wee dram” option: A one-ounce pour of spirits that “are hard to find or too dear for everyday consumption.”
Charcuterie and food items come from Evan Blackburn, Bar Agricole’s in-house butcher. Blackburn makes a selection of salumi at the group’s Oakland commissary, using Mangalitsa pigs raised just for them at Dinner Bell Farm in Grass Valley, California. Options include coppa and mortadella, served on small or large boards for sharing.
Nommo’s menu also highlights seafood like oysters from Washington and British Columbia. The bar’s name connotes land and water: Nommo is named for an amphibious ancestral spirit in Mali, a sexually ambiguous god depicted in folk art.
Beyond charcuterie and oysters, Nommo serves a full menu of small plates like chicory Caesar and Mangalista lardo toast, plus larger items like a burger and moules frites. The whole menu (below) is rolling out over the next few days, with everything available soon.
Wylie Price (Ramen Shop, The Progress, Obispo) designed the Nommo space, which Vogler likens to a loft, with lots of reclaimed redwood and custom fixtures. Rincon Hill, with its new residential towers like a miniature Vancouver, is a neighborhood that has yet to develop much of a bar and dining identity — but new residents might well be hungry for salumi and well-mixed drinks.
“In Japan, you’ll be in this ultramodern neighborhood, and you’ll go into a building that’s just five years old, and be in a soulful, compelling interior,” says Vogler. “And we thought it could be worth trying to do something cool like that.”
Nommo Opening Menu by on Scribd