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Upheaval at Orson

In all the hustle and bustle of last week (closing our November issue, dodging Fleet Week drama and the release of the 2009 Michelin guide) we received a press release from none other than Elizabeth Falkner, the executive chef behind both Citizen Cake and Orson. Unfortunately, the release confirmed what we feared might eventually happen over at Orson (for our early article and video about Orson, click here).

For while we applauded Falkner’s “think outside the box” risk-taking and appreciated the novelty of a savory course that employed pop rocks and parmesan cheese, it seemed pretty clear that the restaurant never quite got traction. Then came word that the bartender extraordinaire, Jackie Patterson, was moving on (expect to see her behind the bar at the soon-to-open Zinnia, Sean O’Brien’s new spot in the former Scott Howard space).

The press release revealed that chef de cuisine Ryan Farr will be out beginning on October 25 and following his departure we should expect a full revamp of Orson’s menu. This is a familiar story, unfortunately—often when the economy takes a nose-dive, pop rocks must give way to pot roast. So Falkner plans to take the menu in a “brasserie style,” citing such additions as a “modern ceaser [sic] salad, boudin blanc, a burger, and steak frites with creamed spinach pudding.” Somehow, we knew this was coming, but still it makes us feel a little sad. Does San Francisco need another restaurant serving  Caesar salad, no matter how modern? Are Elizabeth Falkner’s talents best showcased through burgers and steak frites? Only time will tell.