Executive chef Srijith Gopinathan, who earned two Michelin stars for his California-Indian cuisine at San Francisco’s Campton Place is leaving the restaurant after 15 years. “It’s extremely bittersweet for me,” Gopinathan says. “By virtue of being in one place for almost 15 years — in this era, nobody stays very long — that itself makes me feel like I am part of Campton Place, it’s very hard for me to detach myself from there. But that’s life: All great things come to an end, to start another great thing.”
Gopinathan’s last day with Campton Place is June 30, and he says the restaurant will change after his departure, calling the food a “very unique, very personal” style which he developed during his time there. “It’s a new opportunity for newer people,” Gopinathan says. “There’s definitely an opportunity for a new cuisine, a new story.”
The reason behind Gopinathan’s decision to leave is twofold. The chef is focusing on his newer restaurants Ettan in Palo Alto, which opened in February 2020, and fast-casual Little Blue Door at State Street Market. He’s also working on research and development for his yet-to-open restaurant at 1700 Fillmore Street, which he’s developing with business partner Ayesha Thapar. “I could not stretch it any thinner,” Gopinathan says. “I tried my best, and I decided the best decision would be to leave Campton and then focus on these two things … it is an extremely happy time of my life, for sure, and we achieved a lot for the place, as well as for myself.”
Gopinathan’s new project, which was first announced by San Francisco Business Times in April, takes over the 6,600-square-foot former Dosa space and is set to open in early fall. The food will differ from both Campton and Ettan, Gopinathan says, and will be more personal — “frill-free cuisine close to what I’ve eaten in my childhood,” Gopinathan says. He grew up in Kerala in India and the new restaurant focuses on southern India and the coast, specifically Kerala and the surrounding areas. “The reason why I’m doing [this new restaurant] is I feel Bay Area palates actually are ready to taste something more than the basic, cliche Indian food or what you see always here,” he says.
Expect seafood, Gopinathan says, and a lot of vegetables as main dishes; Gopinathan expects to use plenty of local ingredients in his cooking, but is also looking to introduce diners to tropical fruits and vegetables. What he’s looking forward to most in his post-Campton Place era, is cooking in San Francisco again, especially since Campton Place is currently still closed. “I’m definitely looking forward to cooking something which is very, very personal to me and very close to my heart in terms of cuisine — what I’m going to do, it’ll definitely be a pleasant surprise for most people,” Gopinathan says. “It’s something which I have never done before, something which I’ve been thinking for a very, very long time to do, and I’m finally getting to do it.”