Aurea, located at the Renaissance San Francisco Stanford Court Hotel, welcomes new Chef de Cuisine, Michael Koenig. For the past two months, Koenig has been perfecting a new menu, which launches November 19.
Koenig was raised in a half Lebanese and half German household and grew up exposed to a wide range of culinary styles. Some days would involve helping his mother roll grape leaves, the next helping his father cook bratwurst. Both backgrounds play a heavy role in his signature cooking style, which he joyfully refers to as “Mediterranean comfort food.”
Despite the fact that cooking was a large part of his upbringing, Koenig initially went down another career path that included earning a degree in Chemistry and Environmental Studies at Michigan State University. Although this was a major accomplishment, he longed for the passion he felt while cooking and decided to follow his heart. Over the next 15 years, Koenig climbed the culinary ladder—having most recently worked as the executive sous chef of Grand Café.
The new menu at Aurea pays homage to Koenig’s upbringing while flawlessly integrating the fresh ingredients California is known for. Koenig also pulls inspiration from his daily life, primarily through his daughter, for whom the new peanut butter pot du crème dessert was initially conceptualized. As such, the new menu promises to appeal to the wide range of guests staying at the hotel, as well as neighborhood locals who have become fans of his hearty and inventive cooking-style.
“The secret I’ve found is in using simple ingredients that everyone loved as a kid, and combining them in a way that creates complex and innovative flavors,” Koenig says. “This concept helped inspire an array of approachable and hearty dishes.”
Local and seasonal ingredients take the spotlight in Koenig’s new menus, and show his dedication to California cuisine. Highlights include:
Warren Pear Salad with frisee, candied walnuts, Point Reyes blue cheese, and aged Banyuls vinaigrette
Tri-Tip Quinoa Salad with cucumbers, feta, sundried tomatoes, and avocado
Beef Braised Short Rib with baby root vegetables, community grains polenta, and orange gremolata
Loch Duarte Salmon with Beluga lentils, Tuscan kale, leek chive butter
Also new is Aurea’s revamped happy hour. Playfully called “Chill on the Hill,” the new happy hour features an array of Lagunitas beers on tap and classic cocktails which pair nicely with Koenig’s inventive and delicious selection of bar bites. Popular selections from this menu include:
Bacon Dusted Popcorn
Philly Cheese-Steak Wontons
Corn Flake Fried Chicken
Aurea combines the hotel’s historic roots with modern touches that evoke the effervescent character of San Francisco— from avant-garde seating arrangements beneath an eye-catching, Tiffany-style dome to contemporary, playful sculptures and chandeliers. With a dramatic, glass-encased, floor-to-ceiling “wall of wine” as a design focal point, Aurea features an illuminated wine-centric bar that operates as a classic coffee-bar café by day and transitions in the evening into a lively restaurant lounge. The restaurant is open Sunday through Thursday from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to midnight.