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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Hidden Dining Room ― Could Benu Spark a New Trend?

Posted By on Tue, Jul 6, 2010 at 11:15 AM

Corey Lee and Richard Bloch. - TAMARA PALMER
  • Tamara Palmer
  • Corey Lee and Richard Bloch.
During a special hard-hat tour of Benu, the future SOMA restaurant from former French Laundry chef de cuisine Corey Lee, we learned that Lee has plans to reinvent more than just food. He wants to change the overall dining experience, too.

Working with veteran restaurant designer Richard Bloch (Masa Takayama, Masa, and Bar Masa, New York and Las Vegas), Lee has designed a whole new aesthetic in the former Hawthorne Lane/Two site. After entering through a tranquil garden, the first sight will be the kitchen, with the dining room hidden away in the back.

"It's important for us that the kitchen is the first and only visible element," Bloch explained, "and that you have to continue through these layers to find the restaurant. We want you to lose yourself in this world."

Lee said he isn't concerned that diners might be able to see ― or hear ― into the kitchen.

"We're a quiet kitchen, very gentle," Lee said. It's clear that Gordon Ramsay he ain't.

The restaurant is tentatively projected to open in August. In the meantime, for more on Benu, hop over to Inside Scoop SF's Benu School series, which is documenting everything from the wine program to the custom-designed porcelain place settings.

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Tamara Palmer

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