Foundational Hayes Valley fine dining restaurant Jardinière will close next month after 21 years in business. The restaurant is “pretty healthy,” but “not thriving” chef/owner Traci Des Jardins told the New York Times, who broke the sad news.
Jardinière’s final dinner service will be held on April 27. After the restaurant closes, Des Jardins will turn her attention to her other restaurants — The Commissary and Arguello, partnerships with the Presidio Trust, as well as Mijita, School Night, and Public House.
Des Jardins, a James Beard Award-winning chef, opened Jardinière with then business partner and swanky restaurant designer Pat Kuleto in 1997. Hayes Valley was downtrodden; off the beaten path. She was just 32 years old, but exuded confidence and charisma.
And Jardinière was a hit: In its early days, amid a heady, booming economy, dinners were “balls-out crazy,” according former executive chef Robbie Lewis. Portions were gargantuan; matched only by tips. The restaurant weathered economic downturns and upswings, and all the while, Des Jardins promoted an impressive list of chef alumni.
“I’m so proud of this place and what it is and the food we serve and the service and the people who work here,” Des Jardins told Eater SF.
Rather than revamping the restaurant, which she considered doing over the last three years, “I’ve examined [the idea] very carefully, and at the end of that process, I said, ‘this restaurant is awesome.’ It opened in this graceful, amazing way, and I don’t want to change it, I want to close it the way I opened it.”
Over the years, Jardinière’s focus remained on French-influenced cuisine — Des Jardins’ father is of French Canadian ancestry — even as she personally gravitated more toward Mexican cooking — her mother’s family is from the state of Sonora. Now, she’ll dedicate more of her focus to Mexican cooking and casual dining.
“Over time I’ve just evolved. Your interests change, how you like to dine changes, and so I’ve gravitated toward a different style of service,” says Des Jardins. “If I had 35 years of my career back, I think would have deeply entrenched myself in Mexico.”
There’s still time for that: Des Jardins says she’s looking forward to more travels to Mexico, and “continuing to be a student” of Mexican cuisine.
A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that Jardinière would close on March 27 — it will close on April 27. This post has also been updated to include comments from Traci Des Jardins.