Laurel Heights residents who were happy to keep Nico to themselves certainly noticed the eatery’s quiet departure from the neighborhood last summer.
Luckily for the rest of us, the Michelin-starred restaurant has resurfaced in a more central locale: in San Francisco’s Jackson Square (we’ll miss you, Bocadillos).
Husband-wife team chef Nicolas Delaroque and Andrea Delaroque are, of course, bringing their impeccable taste to the new location, which has all the upscale ambiance you’d expect of a Michelin-lauded restaurant, but Nico still feels downright relaxed.
You’ll be met with a marble-topped bar, which contrasts with the building’s original exposed brick walls and graphic black-and-white tiled flooring inspired by classic French bistros. If you don’t yet feel welcome, take a few more steps in and witness the work of hospitality happening live in the open kitchen; the 34-seat dining room, designed in neutral hues and warm lighting by Studio BBA (Flora Grubb Gardens, Stonemill Matcha), is also inviting.
Flawless service matches the atmosphere and the food, which is as elevated as you may remember it (chef Delaroque is classically trained in French cooking and counts Manresa among his bona fides). The bistro takes an expectedly Northern Californian approach to regional, seasonal fare; but unlike many of our city’s fanciest dining spots, you can also enjoy the chef’s talents at lunchtime. Have a proper midday meal in the form of two- or three-course prix fixe menus ($32 to $38); or, of course, indulge in a big dinner with four- and six-course options ($62 to $75). The latter gives Delaroque carte blanche to craft a feast of his choosing.
If this is all just a little too much, feel free to just have a drink and a perfectly civilized bar snack—think pork belly croque monsieur or wild mushroom waffles with Atika cheese.
Find the Nico just off Columbus Avenue in Jackson Square.
The L-shaped marble bar is open for casual bites—be sure to admire the pretty black-and-white Parisian-style tile.
Founder of Wild Craft Wandering Bar Service, Danielle Peters helped devise Nico’s petite cocktail program with a mix of classic and modern cocktails. Try Le Chat Noir (left) with calvados, gin, and activated charcoal.
Small pieces of wild mushrooms are weaved into the batter for this savory waffle, topped with a dollop of frothy Atika cheese.
Nico is known for its expert use of our favorite spring veg. Here a mountain of peas hides beneath a hill of roe on a slice of brioche.
The striped bass is delicate, accompanied by shavings of fennel, spinach leaves, and naked segments of fruit.
Tender cuts of lamb are paired with meaty cubes of potato and spinach for a hearty yet fresh dish.
The most refreshing of spring desserts: creamy white chocolate topped with a quenelle of celery sorbet and fresh strawberries.
The large kitchen is completely open to the restaurant, offering diners a view to the action.