It’s been almost six years since wife-and-husband duo Lori Baker and Jeffrey Banker announced the closure of their eponymous Lower Pac Heights brasserie Baker & Banker, where they earned a reputation for offering sophisticated cooking and creative desserts. Now they’re back — to help co-owner and chef Aaron Toensing give Marina restaurant Maybeck’s a suave new look and menu debuting Thursday, June 30. Toensing first opened the restaurant with a previous business partner in 2015, but took the pandemic as an opportunity to reimagine both the space and food, ultimately recruiting his longtime friends Baker and Banker to transform the neighborhood spot into more of a culinary destination. “The whole idea is that it’s more thoughtful,” Baker says. “I feel that it’s harder and harder to find thoughtfulness at an affordable price.”
The menu is about 90 percent new, but for those who may be familiar with Maybeck’s previous incarnation, there are some items making their way back onto the table. For example, the restaurant will still serve beef Wellington — these days it’ll be a Wednesday night special sized for two diners as opposed to a massive hunk of beef carved ceremoniously in the kitchen. There’s also radiatori back on in the mix, served with smokey Bolognese and fermented chili oil, and naturally, a burger of the smashed variety. Overall though, Baker says diners can expect the food to feel “lighter” and “not so meat centric,” a result of both the way the chefs agree they like to eat these days and an effort to make the menu a little more environmentally conscious.
The focus on lighter fare and less meat led to the addition of a four-seat crudo bar in the back dining room, so a daily selection of oysters will be ready on ice. Plus there’s a preserved tangerine hamachi crudo, mackerel escabeche, and a striking abalone and koshihikari rice porridge dish that arrives nestled in a shell atop a bed of seaweed. And while meat eaters will still find plenty to fill up on — the aforementioned smashburger, sweet and spicy duck wings, and slow roasted lamb served with white beans — there’s also a new focus on pushing seasonal produce like fatty Brokaw avocados, which take a turn on the grill before being paired with puffed rice, and a baby beet “lasagna” layering fresh ricotta with toasted walnuts, herbs, and citrus.
And yes, Baker is back on desserts, including thick towering triangles of her fan-favorite Brooklyn Blackout Cake, served at Maybeck’s with a personal-sized bottle of chocolate stout egg cream. You’ll be able to wash it all down with any of a number of beverage options; the restaurant will have a full cocktail list from bar manager Brian Walker, plus beer and wine. Come fall the partners plan to open a separate bottle shop inside the space, where customers will be able to pick up something from wine consultant and certified sommelier Rebecca Chapa’s selection.
The space should also look and feel different for those returning after many long months away. When Maybeck’s reopens later this month after closing in 2020 due to the pandemic, it’ll return in a flurry of rich peacock colors: the walls now sport a deep teal shade of blue, balanced by the golden glow of the bar’s well-worn copper top. Warm wooden tables, modern recessed light fixtures, and textured tin ceiling tiles round out the sophisticated new look. MMclay, the San Francisco-based ceramic studio run by MaryMar Keenan, has supplied all of the serving ware.
Maybeck’s (3213 Scott Street) reopens on Thursday, June 30 and serve dinner from 4-10 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and 4-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.