Chezchez, a new bar and restaurant that celebrates terrace and counter aperitivo culture, opens today at 584 Valencia Street in San Francisco’s Mission District, under the direction of Bon Vivants Hospitality’s (BVH) all-star team, including Founder Josh Harris; Drew Record, Chezchez Operating Partner & Sommelier; Jennifer Colliau, BVH Beverage Director; and Timmy Malloy, BVH Chef de Cuisine.
Chezchez opens its doors with a dynamic menu of aperitivo food, aperitifs, cocktails, wines, beers, and drinks without alcohol. Located in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District in the group’s former Bon Voyage! space, Chezchez’s front terrace now offers seating for 50 guests on Valencia, seating for 18 at the counter of the original BV! bar, constructed by Roman Hunt restoration, and another 18 seats at the back counter.
“I couldn’t be more excited to open Chezchez under the leadership of Drew, Jennifer, and Timmy,” says Harris. “Each of these hospitality pros brings a passion, a collection of different life experiences, and such a strong, unique and harmonious perspective to our group."
Harris and team opened up the façade of the building with big, beautiful windows that not that only bathe the restaurant and bar with natural light, but open up to create great energy between the inside and outside seats. A newly installed shallow counter at the window offers some of the best seats in the house. The bi-level space includes the upstairs Salon, one of San Francisco’s most eye-catching event rooms, which is reserved exclusively for private events and groups. The Salon has its own separate bar and is fully customizable, accommodating up to 50 guests. Other design details include new abstracts, original large-format photography and archival images.
Inspired by French, Italian, Spanish and other European destinations that celebrate aperitivo terrace and counter culture, Chezchez’s simple menu was created essentially as a wish list for those times hosting an aperitivo hour with friends. Highlighting the simplicity of ingredients and products with straightforward plating presentations, Chezchez features imported tins of fish, fresh seafood, lots of veggies, meats and cheeses, and more – all served with the team’s favorite, Pain d’Epi baguettes.
A long-time BHV alum of sister restaurants Trick Dog and Quik Dog, Malloy’s menu offers an abundance of vegetables, including Whole Artichoke served chilled with lemon, olive oil and aioli; Beans a la Buvette, giant white beans marinated in citrus zest and olive oil; Champagne-battered and fried market vegetable Fritto Misto with Chezchez Dip; charred Broccolini with olive oil and fried garlic; and more.
A small menu of imported tinned seafood is available and each tin is served with lemon wedges, sea salt, chili flakes, herbs and a Pain d’Epi baguette. Chezchez’s Tintins include Espinaler’s beautiful Baby Sardines preserved in olive oil from Barcelona, Spain; Brisling, or Nordic sardines, which are lightly smoked with heather and chamomile and Cold Water Blue Mussels, marinated with dill and fennel seeds, both from Fangst in Copenhagen, Denmark; and Ramon Pena’s Galician Rias, Atlantic, and Mediterranean Octopus preserved with with paprika, olive oil, onion and salt. Other seafood dishes include Oregon pink shrimp Cocktail; Ortiz Anchovy Filets with olive oil and butter; and Smoked Sturgeon with pickled red cabbage, horseradish and crème Fraîche.
Guests can also choose from simple platings of meats and cheeses, including Campo Seco, dry cured pork salami and mustard; Pork Belly Porchetta, sliced thin and served chilled with fennel and olive salsa; Prosciutto Di Parma with pistachio, chili and saba; thinly sliced Tri Tip, served cold with chili oil and blue cheese; Cowgirl Creamery’s Inverness with fruit compote and toasted seeds; Central Coast Creamery’s Holey Cow with hazelnuts and sea salt; and Angelo and Franco’s Burrata with black olive tapenade.
Under the collaborative direction of Colliau and Record, Chezchez’s drink menu offers classically structured aperitifs and cocktails with sections including Bloodies, Daiquiris, Martinis, Negronis, Old Fashioneds and Spritzes. Each section offers a mix of traditional versions of these familiar drink categories, but also original variations, modern classics, an alcohol-free version, and a few playful suggestions that might not fit the typical idea of that particular cocktail family.
Celebrating the aperitif in all its forms, the drinks menu, like the food menu, is designed to help guests answer the sometimes difficult question of “What would I like to drink right now: beer, cider, soft drink, wine, a cocktail?” In the mood for a Martini? Try a classic, straight-from-the-freezer, in one of three proportions featuring Tanqueray, Sipsmith or Monkey 47 Gin; or try a Coastal Martini with Manzanilla sherry, Svöl aquavit and Routin blanc. Craving something a bit tart instead? An Aperitivo Daiquiri made with Martini Fiero, Fino Sherry and lime sits side-by-side with Amaro and Alpine riffs on the three-ingredient classic. In the mood for an Old Fashioned? Try one with Trick Dog’s Maker’s Mark Private Select Bourbon, or celebrate with a Moet & Chandon Champagne Old Fashioned featuring vintage Champagne syrup made from the BVintage cellar.
Of course, no menu of aperitifs would be complete without sections of Spritzes and Negronis. Colliau and team offer playful takes on the classics, like a Frozen Negroni or a Mojito Royale, finished with a healthy splash of sparkling wine. And for days (or afternoons) that require an eye-opener, Chezchez offers a broad range of Bloody Mary cocktails complemented by a host of ingredients from Chef Malloy’s kitchen, including shrimp cocktail, anchovy-stuffed olives, chile-marinated provolone or chicharróns. With an eclectic mix of spirits, from sherry and scotch to aquavit and vodka, guests can personalize their Bloody any time of day or night.
Wine, often a key ingredient throughout the Bon Vivants’ cocktail menus, is front and center at Chezchez. Record, a certified sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers, has chosen a thoughtful selection of wines to complement the aperitivo food menu. Organized by sections including High Acid Whites, Sparkling Wines, Chilled Reds, Oxidized Orange Wines and more, the wine list ranges from esoteric selections from the Balkans to familiar favorites from France and Spain to up-and-coming producers in California. Thirsty guests can sample the 20 by-the-glass and -can offerings, more than 50 selections on the seasonally rotating list or go wild with a bottle from the BVintage Cellar, a large and eclectic collection of old bottles that Harris sourced from a local estate.
“The wine list at Chezchez was chosen with the same careful point-of-view and strong perspective in mind that have become hallmarks of The Bon Vivants’ approach to food and drink,” says Record. “I couldn’t be more excited to present our group’s largest wine list to-date. There will be a mix of new winemakers just making their first vintages, as well as those whose farming and production techniques haven’t changed in dozens of generations. Regardless of region, ethos, varietal, or winemaking style, every bottle was chosen because it is delicious and celebrates the aperitif in all its glory.”
Chezchez is located at 584 Valencia Street, between 16th & 17th Streets, about a mile from sister restaurant and bar, Trick Dog, the James Beard Foundation Award-nominated cocktail destination and Quik Dog. Chezchez is open Tuesday – Saturday, 4:30 – 10:00 p.m. In keeping with BVH’s philanthropic values, Chezchez will contribute a portion of sales from merch and other items to BV Scholarship Fund and other local causes the team supports.
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