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Sorbets at Palette Kelly Puleio

SoMa Art Space/Restaurant Palette Reopens in a Wildly Imaginative Outdoor Space

Slurp oysters in front of a sea foam mural, and feast on halibut under a net of lights

Palette, the fine dining restaurant slash art gallery, has splashy news. After five months of renovations, the team is unveiling a completely reimagined design, including a new space for outdoor dining. That also means a deep menu featuring artistic plates and creative cocktails — cheers to finally landing that full liquor license.

It’s been an ongoing evolution for the high-profile restaurant that opened just last year, first in a temporary space on Folsom, while waiting to move into a permanent location on 12th Street. But when the pandemic struck, it put those ambitions on hold, potentially for years. The team settled into Folsom for the foreseeable future, and has been serving takeout, while refinishing the floors, repainting, and kitting out the kitchen.

Installation complete, now they’re flipping on the lights. The new Palette is a restaurant, gallery, and outdoor space all combined into one immersive design. And they really know their audience here by the Bay, where tech lovers like to feast on coastal ingredients. A striking black mural by Nathan Richard Phelps almost looks like sea foam bubbles undulating across its facade.

Rendering of the Palette exterior Palette

Chef-owner Peter Hemsley, who came through Quince, and project manager David Middleton, who built out restaurants for years with the Palm Restaurant group, didn’t hire a design firm for the whole space this time around. But they did tap ShopFloor Design, the custom metalworker in Dogpatch, to build its outdoor space.

They’re calling it a terrace, which sounds like a parklet by any other name, taking over four parking spots in the front. But it’s not temporary — built with industrial steel, it’s intended to last for at least the next two years, and it’s fully thought out with landscaping, heat lamps, and blankets. Rope lights strung overhead shine almost like the strands of a fisherman’s net.

While Hemsley is no doubt still grateful for any and all takeout orders, he does sound excited to be coming back around to fully finished dishes. Palette blends food, tech, and art, and with that kind of restaurant, it’s about the plating. “The menu has tremendously evolved,” says Hemsley. “Takeout was a deep exercise for the team … it isn’t easy for anybody. Getting back to plating food, for people who are in the space, is the bread and butter for the chefs on my team.”

“Where we are now is a much better representation of the true vision of the defined full-service restaurant I was going to roll out. We’re just doing it here right now because we had the opportunity to redevelop the space.”

Halibut at Palette Kelly Puleio
Steak from Palette Kelly Puleio
Strawberry dessert from Palette Kelly Puleio

Any outdoor diners willing to brave the exposure and the elements will dive into a deep menu. We’re not talking half a dozen items — it’s a full menu, with sections for snacks, starters, mains, desserts, and even sorbet, featuring everything from oysters and caviar to wild halibut and whole rockfish. And finally, now that they have a full liquor license, that includes wine and cocktail pairings. The carefully crafted drinks list courtesy of Trevin Hutchins, who most recently dazzled at One65 (remember that rye concoction nested in a tree branch?).

Palette is now taking reservations for outdoor dining, which officially opens on September 18. Opening hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 4 to 9 p.m.

Palette

816 Folsom Street, , CA 94107 (415) 865-0529 Visit Website

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