Note: First Looks give previews of new restaurants and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations.
When last we checked in with him, Manny Torres Gimenez was serving fresh pasta and two different prix fixe menus at Roxy's Cafe in the Mission...all without much of a kitchen. At Roxy's, he could basically only boil water on an induction burner; now, he's moved into the old Palace Steakhouse on Mission and Cesar Chavez and installed a real kitchen, complete with rotisserie, broiler, and grill. The chef, who trained at Nobu in New York and SPQR, Quince, and Coi in San Francisco, says of the new space, "Here, this is like my dream. Now I can use my entire imagination."
As at Roxy's, Chef Gimenez and his wife, general manager Katerina de Torres, plan to execute the entire operation pretty much on their own. As soon as the permits come through (they're currently in previews, but plan open on Saturday, June 8), they'll be running service Wednesday through Sunday nights, offering two seatings for the 5-course chef's tasting menu ($50; 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.), with alternate hours for those who wish to dine à la carte. (They also plan to offer organic whole rotisserie chickens to go.)
Inspired by his new equipment, Gimenez knew that he wanted to showcase different techniques in each course of the tasting. "I wanted each dish to be cooked differently, and to have different ingredients," he says. "There are so many ingredients in California—if you go to a restaurant for a meal and eat the same ingredient twice, except maybe garlic or onion, it's a lack of creativity. The chef is playing it safe," he says. "I really want to do everything. One dish grilled, another steamed, sauteed, roasted...I want to buy a smoker, too."
3047 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 (map) 415-666-5218
For reservations, send a text message to 415-666-5218. The restaurant is BYO for now..