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Apple Rosette Tart
Marija Vidal, courtesy of Palette

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Dreamy SoMa Art Gallery and Cafe Opens Monday

Palette is taking over Lulu’s Folsom Street location with art, and art-like food

A new, 18-story hotel will join open just down the street from the newly minted Virgin Hotel and its flashy restaurant Commons Club at 816 Folsom Street — eventually.

In the meantime, the building that was previously home to Lulu’s has transformed into Palette (not to be confused with upcoming Palette Tea House), the first iteration of an ambitious combination cafe, art gallery, and shop. The permanent version will ultimately land on a scrappy stretch of 155 12th Street, but for now, a sleek space designed by CCS Architecture will open on Monday, March 25.

The interior of Palette at 816 Folsom Street
Rob Williamson, courtesy of Palette
The gallery
Rob Williamson, courtesy of Palette

Chef Peter J. Hemsley is behind it all, leveraging his experience working with Michael Tusk at Quince and under Alain Passard at L’Arpege with a personal interest in art. The result is a serious co-mingling of the two: A house ceramicist, Andrew Kontrabecki, creates plateware for Palette alongside Hemsley’s menu, and for sale in its retail shop, while food-related art exhibitions are shown in the gallery. Palette’s opening exhibition will be As You See It (April 5- June 28), with work from Bay Area artists Juliette Choné and Kelley O’Leary.

For those less concerned with art and more interested in the contents of their stomachs, the cafe will be channel Hemsley’s fine dining background, but in a more casual atmosphere. Some dishes will come out of the restaurant’s wood-fired oven and rotisserie, like flatbreads and a roasted chicken, while others, like Tony’s tartare, look like works of art themselves.

Stay tuned for more on when the temporary installation of Palette will end at 816 Folsom, though the space appears worthy of a long tenure.

When it opens on March 25, Palette will be open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m.– 8 p.m. There’ll be tables saved for walk-ins, but reservations are also available here.

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