The rebirth of the Villon restaurant at the San Francisco Proper hotel

The San Francisco Proper Hotel is home to three distinct upscale dining concepts that make this trendy downtown establishment not only a culinary destination, but also the perfect place to spend a fashionable evening. VillonThe hotel’s eclectic and visually stunning restaurant on the ground floor, recently resumed dinner service with an all-new, revamped menu under the direction of San Francisco Proper Executive Chef Jason Fox.

With an emphasis on table experiences and sophistication, the seasonal menu is a masterpiece of refined, innovative dishes that remain accessible. The menu features chef Jason Fox’s California cuisine with seasonal produce and local ingredients. Menu highlights include beef tartare with Asian pear kimchee; scallop and shrimp roll; octopus in fermented chilli pork broth; and artichoke agnolotti with burnt lemon beans and black truffle mousse.

There are also the tabletop experiences which are incredibly good and captivating. There’s the Proper Salad, with gem lettuces, smoked mushrooms, beets, candied garlic and a miso vinaigrette; and the epic redwood grilled lamb shoulder, served with onion gratin, smoked polenta, greens and rosemary lamb jus. Entrees include classic American Wagyu beef, New York strip loin and roast chicken with Meyer lemon and scallions.

Villon’s design, attention to detail and atmosphere certainly make it one of the chicest and must-visit restaurants in town right now. We spoke with San Francisco Proper Executive Chef Jason Fox about his new menu, inspiration and more. Here’s what he had to say.

How was the journey to reopening the catering department at Villion? How has the pandemic progressed?

It has been a journey not only to reopen Villon, but to navigate the entire restaurant program through the pandemic. We had many start and stop moments, as we tried to figure out the best time to open each restaurant, not only from an operations perspective, but also really trying to take the temperature of the public and us ensure that we do everything to make everyone feel safe and comfortable. Luckily, I think we’ve gotten past the hardest parts and can really focus on the future.

What can diners expect at Villon that is different from other high-end restaurants downtown?

Without being biased, we think Villon is one of the sexiest restaurants in town. We don’t think everyone gets the benefit of not only being designed by Kelly Wearstler, but we hope the food and drink goes with it. For us, it’s the complete atmosphere, food and drink experience.

We try to serve elegant, whimsical and creative dishes, while being fun and accessible. We are right in the middle of theatres, art museums and concert halls, so we try to incorporate some of these aspects into the kitchen with table presentations and thoughtful dishes.

Talk about the new, redesigned menu. What is inspiration? Kitchen? Style? What’s new?

A big inspiration is Kelly Wearstler and the design of the restaurant. One of my favorite quotes: “Respecting San Francisco’s history with a reimagining of the past and an infusion of the city’s modern spirit and creativity.” That pretty much sums up our culinary philosophy, seeking to merge classic dishes, with a bit of refinement, with new dishes that we try to create, which may be classics themselves one day.

Some fun dishes we make are a modern take on dim sum, with shrimp filling wrapped in scallop paper instead of the traditional rice wrapper, and a dish of grilled asparagus covered in a veil of cheese with melted sheep’s milk.

How did you imagine the table side experiences?

The presentation next to the table comes from the conversation of Mario, the general manager of the hotel, and I had in 2019 when I started. It comes from the esteemed tradition of old school butlers, and we discussed how some of these presentations are becoming a lost art. We both really wanted to offer dishes that matched the grandeur and elegance of the dining room. Hotels were once at the forefront of creativity in the world of fine dining, and we wanted to explore and honor some of those traditions.

The Proper Hotel is home to Villon, La Bande and Charmaine’s – explain how Proper became a one-stop destination for fine dining, great cocktails and a night out on the town in SF.

When I arrived here I was really excited about the hotel’s potential to be a restaurant epicenter. We have three very distinct and differently designed rooms, which I think was a great springboard to reinventing three distinct restaurants. Villon is San Francisco’s elegant upscale restaurant, La Bande is a satisfying and lively European cafe, and Charmaine’s is our whimsical cocktail bar, with quirky cuisine to match.

As a cook, it’s extremely satisfying to have all these different outlets to channel creativity and come up with dishes in different and distinct styles. We want these restaurants to not only be great experiences for our customers, but to be revered and part of the fine dining conversation just like any other independent restaurant in town.

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