If there’s one thing that doesn’t fly during a downturn, it’s the status quo. But when faced with the option of either shuttering or reinventing, restaurateurs have been opting for the latter, like Madonnas of the dining world. Although Acme Chophouse has just changed into Mijita/Public House, a proven success of this kind of 180 would be Coco500, which, until 2005, was Loretta Keller’s beloved Bizou.
Taking a page from Keller’s book, the Australia-inflected South Food and Wine Bar was transformed mid-February into Marlowe, an homage to the Boston butcher shop run by owner Anna Weinberg’s grandfather. Gone is the red, white and blond wood decor of old, replaced by penny tiles, thick rustic wood tables and chalkboards sketched with drawings of various animals. Gone too are the South chef, the South menu and Weinberg’s partners, notably Aussie celebrity chef Luke Mangan. Oz has left the building.
Baked oysters on a salt bed; the remodeled interior.
Not surprisingly, Australia has been replaced by our old friend Cal-Bistro, a hybrid that these days means the menu will likely include the beefy holy trinity: bone marrow, tartare and, of course, a burger. Marlowe has all three on its tightly edited menu, executed by former Cortez chef Jennifer Puccio, along with more classics, among them radishes with whipped goat cheese and a variation on shrimp cocktail—four plump head-on specimens set alongside a squat glass jar containing a spicy, boozy, Bloody Mary-inspired “cocktail” sauce. It’s too soon to tell if the about-face will secure the longevity of the Townsend Street restaurant, but it’s a bold move during a time that requires just this kind of pluck.
330 Townsend St., 415-974-5599, marlowesf.com