Black Cat is finally reopening on August 4, 2021, at which point, the jazz club will have been even darker than usual for nearly a year and a half. It first opened in 2016, restoring a century-old corner of the Tenderloin into a swanky space, featuring a horseshoe bar on street level, descending down into an intimate lounge, serving jazz, cocktails, and supper club plates. It was always a fun experience, although the food might not be the reason you came; the opening menu got a harsh review from the restaurant critic at the SF Chronicle, with a cat food allusion, no less, but he changed his tune a couple years later.
But now, Black Cat is back with a whole team, from the chef to the bar to the manager, and finally, the shrimp croquettes and pork belly buns might be just as hot as the jazz lineup. Chef Yainiel Negró comes from the Michelin-starred Commonwealth and Proper Hotel. Born and raised in Corozal, Puerto Rico, he says he plans to treat Californian ingredients with Caribbean island flavor. Negró says he’s always been drawn to music, and he was given full creative license to completely throw out and redo the menu. “It’s a big fusion. It’s a big party,” Negró says, describing how the new dishes came together. “The same way different people love the same music. It feels good.”
In addition to crowd-pleasing burrata with seasonal produce and grilled ribeye with fresh Romano beans and Nardello peppers, he says the shrimp croquettes riff on bacalao flavors, with cured shrimp in place of the salt cod, and taro instead of yams, packaged into fritters and sunk into a roasted shrimp broth. He’s also dusting potato chips with adobo, hitting pork pinchos with pique spicy vinegar, tossing halibut ceviche with chiles and avocado, and piling pork belly sliders on pan de leche buns. Check out the full menu below.
Bar lead Jason Moser (Proper Hotel, Forgery, Central Kitchen) is crafting the cocktails, including riffs on jazz classics like martinis and sazeracs, as well as a fresh “set list” including a “Mission Penicillin” with blanco tequila, mezcal, lemon, coconut honey, and ginger. And in sparkles, sommelier Eric Forbes (Foreign Cinema) will be pouring a list of nearly a dozen grower Champagnes, which is a rare treat.
New manager Olu Gartin knows good music, joining the team after a decade running the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York. And partner Fritz Quattlebaum says he spent quarantine “immersed … in full-length vinyl albums.” Miles Davis helped restore his vision for the club: He’s trying out a new residency program, so artists will be staying for a couple of weeks at a time, giving them an opportunity to “breathe and workshop.” The lineup includes trumpet players Theo Croker, Maurice “Mobetta” Brown, and Keyon Harrold, who have respectively been nominated for a Grammy, played the Tonight Show, and recorded with Jay Z and Beyoncé, among other distinctions.
Black Cat reopens on Wednesday, August 4. Hours are Wednesday and Thursday 6 p.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday 6 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., and Sunday 6:30 p.m. to midnight. Check out the calendar for dates and details on the live jazz performers.