James Beard award-winning chef Traci des Jardins and restaurateur Pat Kuleto make a winning team at Jardinière which has been around for ten-plus years, a rarity with San Francisco restaurants. Not only does des Jardins turn out near-perfect French-inspired California cuisine, but the gorgeous bi-level restaurant, complete with a festive central bar and Champagne theme, packs in a well-dressed pre- and post-opera and symphony crowd dining on duck liver mousse and the like upstairs. Downstairs, in the chic J Lounge, a younger crowd gathers for libations and bar bites-but not your typical snacks. Instead, des Jardins whips up the likes of Dungeness crab sliders with mango pickles and lemon aioli for the discerning crowd that nibbles here.
Bare brick walls lend a chic New York vibe to the glamorous restaurant and nightspot with a Champagne theme. Downstairs at the bar, beneath a sparkling golden dome, noteworthy local chefs enjoy casual dinners alongside pre-theatre regulars. The J Lounge is a cosmopolitan venue for cocktails and small plates, while Jardinière’s elegant dining room invites you to don your evening best for a romantic dinner date. Some Jardinière regulars prefer the supper club-style U-shaped booths, but the best seats in the house are really those that overlook the vibrant bar. Proximity to the urbane sommelier station provides ample opportunity to chat up wine director Eugenio Jardim. Those in the know let him pair the wines.