Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What's Brewing At the Mint Plaza?

Today I took the day off from work and met a fellow food blogger for a lunch near Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco (detailed review of that mid-week lunch coming tomorrow). Afterwards I caught a movie at the Sony Metreon and then after that I walked around the new pedestrian mall known as the Mint Plaza.

It was my first time at the tiny city space in what was once the Jessie Street alley behind the San Francisco Mint building at 5th Street near Union Square. It was a rainy and cold day so there were hardly anyone sitting outside enjoying the orange chairs set out for people to sit at the plaza. But still, some poor guy had to put out and then collect all the orange chairs. The rain broke by the time I strolled over to the plaza, so there were some nice sunset views through rain clouds overlooking the area.

The Mint Plaza is supposed to be the city's latest restaurant ghetto, with several big-name restaurateurs working to open up dining spots here. But since the plaza opened in November 2007, none of the restaurants have opened. So it's still a pretty quiet alley as the night approaches. The most prominent restaurant set to open here is Chez Papa, the second location of this favorite French bistro in Potrero Hill. As you can see above, the space is actually pretty far along in terms of the main dining room with many of the furnishings already in place. No official word, though, on when it will actually open. But below looks like a good sign...

You can't really tell, but these papers I noticed on one of the tables in the second Chez Papa looks like menus. So it looks like they're at the stage where they're finishing up the details of what will be served. Sorry, I couldn't really get up close to actually read what's on the menu.

This is just a photo of the corner near the end of Jessie Street. The lighting was so pretty I just wanted to take it. But at this corner is actually the only food place that's set to open anytime soon...

It's the first sit down cafe for Blue Bottle Coffee, the local organic coffee roaster that's popular at farmers markets around town. They're served at a lot of high-end cafes everywhere these days, and they've always had their first location out of a stand near my old neighborhood in Hayes Valley. But this will be an actual space where you can sit down and enjoy the coffee inside. You might not be able to read the small sign at the door, but it says it's set to open on Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 8 a.m. Curses, I'm just one day too soon! I couldn't really tell if they really are ready to open because the windows were all blocked out by plastic bags. But if you work around this area of town, check it out tomorrow and let me know!

3 comments:

Eric said...

I went to Blue Bottle on opening day. Coffee was good, but the operation and traffic flow were a mess. It took about 25 minutes to get a to-go cup of coffee, and the narrow corridors that circle around the central bar area do not allow smooth passage of traffic when crowded. Lines degenerated into a mixture of people waiting to order drinks and people waiting to receive orders. Until they settle into their groove more, I'll try to go only at downtime.

It's more of a bar than a cafe. No wireless (with no plans to add it), and all the seating is stools at counters. Obviously I'll be returning (most likely frequently) for the coffee, but I was hoping it would also be a great place to just hang out for a few hours while punching away on the laptop -- it's not really that sort of place, though.

Chef Ben said...

Thanks for the report Eric! It does seem smaller than I imagined. (In the construction phase, BBC had a Flickr account showing the progress and for some reason the photos made the place look bigger.) I bet a lot of people are going to go just to see that $20,000 coffee making machine that's on all the news lately. I don't drink coffee, so won't really be rushing over there anytime soon. But at least Mint Plaza will finally have some place to visit if you're around the area.

Eric said...

Yeah, I was following that Flickr account too! Actually, on one of the photos, I was the person who left a comment saying I'd become a permanent fixture. :) Not sure if that's true, but it's just a short detour off Market, so it'll be tempting to drop by. Hopefully Mint Plaza will get some activity soon, since it's been completely dead so far.