Café Claude, a French bistro, will open the doors to its Marina location on September 18. Its sister restaurant by the same name has been a fixture in downtown for 22 years. It is just the latest from Franck LeClerc whose restaurant empire also includes Claudine and Gitane Restaurant and Bar.
Tucked away on Greenwich Street in a turn of the century building, Café Claude’s fastidious design is composed of vivid burgundy walls, antique tin ceilings and chandeliers sourced from France that creates a modern ambiance that is paradoxically timeless.
“We are really trying to recreate something that is old world that has some vintage touches and antique lighting. We want it to look like it is something that has been here forever,” said LeClerc.
The intimate dining room seats just 49 people with additional seating at the bar and at the chef’s table. There will also be outside tables that can accommodate up to eight people.
While the design of the restaurant might be rich, LeClerc said that Chef Doug Degeeter has created a menu that will play to the neighborhood’s audience and have some lighter options that highlight local ingredients.
“Doug is definitely excited to be able to offer some lighter fare. Because as you know, a lot of people think that French is heavy,” noted LeClerc.
In addition to daily specials, diners can expect classic French dishes like steak tartare, escargots, salad Niçoise, roasted chicken and crepes with roasted vegetables. There will also be an assortment of charcuterie, pâté and cheeses on the menu.
“We are going to bring some signature dishes that we already have at Café Claude [Downtown] that are proven and work very well,” said LeClerc. “We are transporting some of those original ideas, but making it affordable and not just trying to shock or educate. Education takes a long time, and we are not in the business of education.”
The restaurant has also constructed a beverage program that it hopes will appeal to the local crowd. Each evening before dinner service starts, Café Claude will host an aperitif hour. Carlos Yturria, bar manager for all of LeClerc’s properties, has put together a focused set of aperitif cocktails that will include liqueurs like Campari and Lillet.
During the dinner hour, the beverage menu will shift to beers and wines. While the downtown restaurant heavily emphasizes French wines, LeClerc and wine director, Sarah Knoefler, have decided to offer more Napa and Sonoma wines at the Marina location to give it more of a California flair.
“Sarah was committed to bringing a lot more California wines. At Café Claude [Downtown] 95 percent is French wine, and I think that being here we have to adapt.”
LeClerc shows no signs of slowing down. Currently, he has Gaspar Brasserie in the works, and while he wouldn't disclose at this time, he still has big plans for Cafe Claude.
Overview of Café Claude Marina
- Location: 2120 Greenwich St., San Francisco, CA 94117
- Contact: (415) 375-9550
- Hours: Sun, Tues-Wed, 4:30-5:30 p.m. (Aperitif Hour) and 5:30-10:30 p.m. (dinner) and Thurs-Sat, 4:30-5:30 p.m. (Aperitif Hour) and 5:30-11:30 p.m. (dinner)
- Credit Cards: Accepted
- Reservations: Recommended