Hotel restaurants don’t always get the hype they deserve (and many don’t deserve the hype they get), but in the sparkling new Proper Hotel, Villon holds its own.
It’s tough earning street cred in the culinary Arcadia that is the Bay Area—particularly as a hotel, which can often be skimmed past as overpriced and probably lacking in local cool factor. But so far, the Proper Hotel has effectively positioned itself on the map of San Francisco hot spots, first luring us for the fabulous Kelly Wearstler design and craft cocktails on the rooftop patio at Charmaine’s, and now convincing us to stay and dine.
At the upscale, eclectic Villon, James Beard Award–nominated chef Jason Franey (formerly of New York’s Eleven Madison Park and Monterey’s 1833) manages to shake up American and continental fare with a surprise ingredient on nearly every plate—you may find a deviled egg in your tuna tartare or apples alongside the sashimi.
Of course, those stuffing their bellies at the restaurant still get the intoxicating perks of an evening at Charmaine’s: Villon shares the bar’s menu of 49 craft cocktails, compliments of the Trick Dog team, and the hotel’s decor, with all of Wearstler’s signature playful glamour, mingles throughout.
There’s no need to check into the hotel to get a taste of Proper’s celebrity style. Kelly Wearstler’s funky-luxurious design—replete with curvaceous velvet sofas, bold patterns and a hodgepodge of art—welcomes guests to Villon in the colorful foyer just outside.
Just a hint of Art Deco style informs the dining room, which strikes the right balance between masculine and feminine. Dusty teal walls soften black leather banquettes, while romantic skirted chandeliers juxtapose against graphic patterns on the chairs and floor. It’s a moody atmosphere as equally suited for girls’ night or a clandestine rendezvous.
Sharing the same Trick Dog–designed menu as the rooftop lounge Charmaine’s, the bar has, quite literally, a lot to offer. Expect seven pages of libations in categories including “Drinks created at hotel bars” and “We made these up, so be nice.”
The tuna tartare is a savory two-bite delight, with a piece of crispy chicken skin serving as a raft for the mound of fish. A smear of deviled egg hides beneath.
Raw bar lovers’ mouths will pucker over the halibut sashimi, brightened by tart slices of Granny Smith apples and a swipe of horseradish, and textured with crispy golden daikon radish.
You can’t really go wrong with sweet Hawaiian rolls crusted in thick “everything” seasoning. Rip them open and slather with cultured butter, apricot preserves, or strawberry chicken liver mousse.
So long, gnocchi. Hello, gnudi. These naked ricotta dumplings, skinny-dipping in sunchoke fondue sauce, are so good you’ll want to order seconds.
Carnivores can sink their fangs into a festive take on the petite filet, accented with a comforting creamy sauté of swiss chard, smoked potatoes, and a thick fried onion ring.
For dessert, the Honey Bombe cake is as delicious as it is pretty, with layers of pluot preserve, crumbly crust, and a scoop of homemade ice cream.