Situated at 252 California Road, this institution beforehand hosted a couple of of Chef Michael Mina’s most noteworthy eating places, together with AQUA, a chic seafood restaurant on which he established his esteemed chef popularity over 20 years in the past. Quick ahead to in the present day and it’s the house of the brand new Estiatorio Ornos, a shiny, vigorous restaurant impressed by the thought of philoxenia or Greek hospitality.
Mediterranean vibes; open home windows; stalactite-like white chandeliers; flowing curtains; coral and sea inexperienced accents; lemon bushes and extra create a singular, enjoyable ambiance that performs up the Ornos Seaside getaway inspiration. Although the eating itself is as upscale as might be, the restaurant itself is something however stuffy or pretentious.
The latest iteration of the area provides friends a formidable tasting menu together with an à l la carte expertise that pays homage to the Mediterranean seafood expertise. The menu is comprised of dishes from three cooks and Govt Chef Daniela Vergara, previously Govt Sous Chef of MINA Group’s high-energy, Hawaiian idea Trailblazer Tavern. The menu highlights elevated eating and cooking methods that includes shareable, seafood-centric dishes impressed by the meals every of them ate rising up at dwelling.
Highlights embrace Mediterranean Sea Bass grilled with steamed greens ‘horta’; Dover Sole phyllo-crusted served with skordalia, haricots verts, and caviar sauce; and grilled lamb chops ‘paidakia’ with cretan-style potatoes; ouzo prawns with scallions, crushed tomato and feta grilled octopus with santorini capers, gigante beans, purple onion and extra.
One of many coolest features of Estiatorio Ornos? The truth that it has on its workforce San Francisco’s first ever fish sommelier. Mark Borges, who has been with MINA Group for over three years, is the fish professional who sources the freshest fish from the Aegean Sea the place the product is delivered in a single day. He expertly guides diners by the specialty fish choices, whereas recommending preparation methods based mostly on the diner’s style – together with grape leaf-wrapped, whole-roasted, salt-crusted, or just grilled.
Including to the eating expertise are different interactive culinary carts embrace a “unfold cart” showcasing dip choices resembling Tzatziki, Hummus, Melitzanosalata (charred eggplant, lemon, and parsley), and Tirokafteri (barrel-aged feta and roasted chili peppers), and a “pastry cart” showcasing conventional Greek sweets.
I chatted to the Estiatorio Ornos workforce on the restaurant’s design, ethos, inspiration and extra. Right here’s what they needed to say.
Inform me concerning the restaurant renovation, redesigned eating room and the expansive bar. It is an attractive restaurant, rather a lot totally different than what it used to appear to be!
Ly Dao, Hennessey Dao Collective: Taking inspiration from Mediterranean grottos of antiquity, Estiatorio Ornos San Francisco marries snug natural textures with fashionable sophistication. The area walks the road between the outdated world and stylish modern design. Its niches characteristic sculptures handmade in Greece and serve to create a way of mythology.
Beneath the dramatically excessive ceilings are massive natural white chandeliers, serving to attract one’s gaze upward. Wrapped across the coral tiled bar is a floating blue mural hinting on the attribute blue water reflections of the caves that pepper Mediterranean shores. All through the gleaming white area are coral and sea inexperienced touches that are pulled immediately from the oceanside villages of Greece itself, transporting friends to the Greek Isles.
Speak about philoxenia – Greek hospitality, and what which means to the restaurant and workers as they welcome friends.
Chef Michael Mina: MINA Group has made a reputation for itself by offering phenomenal, five-star service throughout all of our eating places. Partnering with Chef Niko and Chef Jerry gave us the chance to broaden on this and be impressed by the hospitality paying homage to the Greek Isles. We wish friends to really feel the heat and lightheartedness of a night in Mykonos wash over them at Ornos – being taken care of as not only a diner, however as household.
What’s the inspiration for the restaurant and menu? What are the menu highlights?
Chef Michael Mina: When reopening the 252 California area as Estiatorio Ornos, I needed to return to the seafood roots of its days as AQUA. The menu is a end result of the Greek culinary traditions of Chef Jerry and Chef Niko and the seafood I grew up consuming with my household, immigrants from the Mediterranean seaport metropolis of Alexandria in Egypt.
Should-trys on our menu for me are the Petrale Sole–it’s a tackle a dish I’ve labored on for years, which is phyllo-crusted served with skordalia, brussels sprouts and caviar sauce; the Mediterranean Sea Bream is a stunner, it’s introduced tableside, entire, and salt-crusted, earlier than being deboned and served; and a shock favourite on the menu has been our Spanakopita salad – we’ve deconstructed the traditional dish to current a savory salad layered with spinach, crispy phyllo and goat cheese.
Discuss concerning the spectacular tasting menu and its Mediterranean and Center Japanese heritage.
Govt Chef Daniela Vergara: The tasting menu – the Ornos Expertise – offers us the chance to really show philoxenia. Put your night in our arms and we’ll handle the remainder. The Ornos Expertise is at all times in flux to current our greatest dishes and provides friends a four-course tour, permitting them to expertise each a part of our menu.
You may have San Francisco’s first-ever Fish Sommelier! How did that job come about? Who’s he and what’s his background to have this position?
Chef Michael Mina: The fish sommelier really developed at our restaurant in Hawaii –MINA’s Fish Home. I found considered one of our new workforce members was not only a server, however a top-rated sports activities fisherman. I invited him to tackle a brand new position in our eating room – sharing his professional data concerning the fish, the sourcing, and the very best methods to arrange them with our friends.
As Ornos is so seafood-centric, it was a pure development to introduce this place right here as properly. Now we have promoted Mark Borges, who has been with MINA Group for over three years to be the fish sommelier at Ornos. He works intently with our Govt Chef Daniela Vergara to study concerning the fish and our purveyors, so he’s prepped to teach diners.