San Francisco music lovers may already have the jump on this new spot: Serving concertgoers at The Chapel, as well as Missionites looking for a drink on a patio, Curio has quietly slipped into the spot that was once home to The Vestry.
And the change is welcome: The new concept from Chapel owner Jack Knowles is intended to spark the imagination.
We never say no to a plate of burrata. Curio's is fried—we repeat, fried. A cluster of smoked tomatoes and fresh wild arugula help balance out the salty goodness.
With a design refresh care of Michael Brennan (Jardinière, Trademark & Copyright, Harry's), the interior is intended to be playful and mysterious, with a rather quirky nod to the location's past life as a mortuary. Vintage Italian chandeliers, neon signs tucked away in dark corners, golden skulls, grandfather clocks, and wood from the old mortuary come together for a quasi-edgy, morose vibe that conjures thoughts on life and time.
While you're pondering your mortality, you'll want a drink, and the seasonal cocktails here—designed by mixologist Darren Crawford (Bourbon & Branch)—pick up on the theme, named after such mythical creatures as the Phoenix and Chupacabra.
Chef Mario Tolentino (from the Food Network's 2010 season of Chopped) leads the kitchen in a menu of share plates and mains that blend American flavor with a Californian farm-to-table ethos. Dig into a shellfish tower of oysters, shrimp, lobster, and clams, or play it safe with the Holy Grail burger topped with cremini mushrooms, tomato jam, fried onions, and raclette cheese. Southern-inspired classics—think buttermilk biscuit Benedict and shrimp and grits—rule at brunch.
If dark-and-creepy's not your jam, take a seat on the spacious, sunny patio and order up a frosty glass of frosé.
// Curio,775 Valencia Street, curiobarsf.com