Luce is a star restaurant that’s remained dark throughout the pandemic, but the fine dining destination is finally reopening this Friday, October 8, with an ambitious new chef. Located within the InterContinental Hotel, Luce is known for a soignee tasting menu, as first crafted by opening chef Dominique Crenn in the late aughts, and while Crenn made way for other chefs within a couple of years, Luce consistently held a Michelin star for a decade. But the restaurant underwent a major renovation in spring 2019, the last head chef departed in fall of that year, and the dining room has remained closed to the public for the entire pandemic. Altogether, Luce has not had a head chef helming the kitchen for two years. And when the Michelin guide for California was announced last week, the cuts reflected that: Luce had lost its star.
But now, Luce is finally reopening on Friday, October 8 — and with a new chef and new menu, it seems poised for a polished comeback. Rogelio Garcia, an experienced chef who’s cooked across star restaurants in San Francisco and Napa Valley, from Spruce and the Commissary to Cyrus and the French Laundry, is stepping in to lead the kitchen. He’s debuting new tasting menus showcasing local farms and muscling European techniques for the Luce fine dining room, as well as a more casual menu for the Bar 888 lounge, pulling in his Mexican heritage with fresh tortillas and ceviche and mezcal and tequila cocktails.
Pre-pandemic, Luce had a nine-course tasting menu, as well as a la carte options. But now, it’s dropping down to an eight-course tasting menu for $145, or a four-course tasting menu for $95, which is pretty approachable by fine dining standards. The courses roll out housemade Castelvetrano-studded sourdough with cultured butter; Norwegian king crab with heirloom tomato gazpacho poured over; dry-aged local duck with plump figs and a sweet port reduction; and Australian wagyu and oxtail, both seared and braised, rendering big fat and flavor. For dessert, late season stonefruit stars in a honey panna cotta, while a warm chocolate torte is drizzled in caramel and topped with almonds. Check out the full menu, below.
Garcia was born in Mexico City and grew up in LA and Napa. His family moved to wine country when he was 15, so he went to high school in Napa. His first part-time job as a teenager was washing dishes at the Hotel Vellagio in Yountville, so it’s a full-circle moment for him to lead the team at another acclaimed hotel restaurant in San Francisco. “All through my career, I’ve worked under a chef, and worked under a mentor … ” Garcia says. But now with his own team, who he hopes to treat as equals, “We’re super excited to bring it on full blast, and showcase that longtime experience in SF and Napa.”
Luce reopens on Friday, October 8. Hours are Thursday to Sunday, first seating at 5:30 and last seating at 9 p.m.