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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Cafe du Nord's Renovation Is Spectacular

Posted By on Tue, Jul 21, 2015 at 4:30 PM

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We really need to put in a good word for Café du Nord, the renovation for which was a little scary in our current climate of ceaseless closures. The Swedish American Hall’s basement venue was long overdue for a tummy tuck and brow lift, as the place was looking sadder than the Verdi Club’s bar and almost as dated as the pre-reno General’s Residence at Fort Mason.

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Luckily, the surgeons knew where to stop, because now it’s as sexy as basements get, all spiffed up with burgundy booths and tiles that present the illusion of 3-D and maybe the odd Victorian portrait or two. The sightlines to the stage are preserved, and a partition keeps the outer bar feeling more like an anteroom to the main action in the Viking Room than a truly separated space.

While the prices are more than reasonable for the sparkling wines and the fries (with Neptune sauce!), you can get a little fancy with Oysters Kirkpatrick ($19/half dozen), market price crudo, or caviar at $95 an ounce. A $16.50 Burger du Nord and $28 cioppino do a good job at offering revamped classics without getting cartoonishly retro; this is like what you want Louis’ Restaurant (by Land’s End) to be. There’s even an ice cream sundae with pretzel brittle and chocolate sauce for $10. You know who might enjoy that is Wanda Jackson, the First Lady of Rockabilly, when she comes to town on Sept. 5. I dare you to offer her your pretzel brittle.

Lastly, whenever people from a certain nameless metropolis (whose mirror-universe self might go by the name Metropolis) visit S.F. and complain that you can’t find anything to eat after 10 p.m., we can now steer their nasal whining and non-rhotic r’s to Sanchez and Market, because Café du Nord’s full menu is available until 1:30 a.m. A 108-year-old building is a delicate thing, but this renovation was spot-on.

Cafe du Nord, 2174 Market, 415-471-2969.

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About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.


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