We’ve had a dearth of French brasseries, and now we have two on the horizon. Bruno Davaillon’s long-awaited solo restaurant Bullion is receiving its shiny finishings at 400 Record St. downtown, to become a gorgeous, high-end brasserie with his unparalleled classic skills on display. Meanwhile, a new, far more casual brasserie named Up in Knox is set to open in the former Chili’s on Knox in September, with chefs Dennis Kelly and Melody Bishop, formerly of Lark on the Park, at the helm.
The owner behind the spot, which will focus on an oyster bar and wood-fired grill, is Stephan Courseau, well-placed to open a restaurant, being both Parisian and the owner of Le Bilboquet, a few blocks away. For him, the new spot will capture certain elements of a brasserie, including its hours, which will run all day. Design elements will include herringbone hardwood floors, brass detailing, light sconces, and an old-school revolving door under high ceilings. Accordion French doors and a hedge around the patio will create the intimacy of a sidewalk café.
A brasserie, Courseau says, is “a place that belongs to the neighborhood, at the end of the day.”
Courseau will not try to compete with his own Le Bilboquet, or with neighboring French brasserie Toulouse; the menu will be more American than French. “We’re not going to revisit the French classics, that’s for sure,” he says.
Drawing on Kelly and Bishop’s California roots, the menu will focus on seasonality. The seasonality comes particularly from experiences in San Francisco. “It was the first time I had guys coming to the kitchen door even at 9:45 at night with big boxes of produce.” They’ll espouse that ethos as much as possible, reaching out the local farmers as well as ranchers for meat. Kelly and Melody both have experience working with wood-fired cooking at both restaurants in both San Francisco and at Tavern in Los Angeles. “We’re both really excited about that,” Kelly says. “And we’ll fill in with good, local stuff.”
In another coup, the team will include a pastry chef. “I always wanted to have one,” says Courseau, “but at Le Bilboquet we didn’t have the space.” Now they do and there will be pastries like fresh croissants in the mornings as well as a dessert menu that changes throughout the year, drawing inspiration, again, from the seasonal.
Courseau’s favorite brasseries include Brasserie Lipp in Paris and Balthazar in New York. Ultimately, for him, a brasserie, is “a restaurant that was just supposed to be for the people, for the community, the neighborhood.”