Le Fantastique Fuses French and Japanese Cuisine in the Heart of Hayes ValleyAuthor:Michelle Konstantinovsky
Hayes Valley (along with the rest of San Francisco, and, well, the world for that matter) has gone through a tumultuous transformation over the last two years. While many beloved businesses have shuttered, however, new hope has also emerged in the form of retail and hospitality spots that are becoming fast favorites among locals. One breath of fresh air? Le Fantastique, a dining destination from Chef Robbie Wilson and Emily Perry Wilson of Palo Alto’s BIRD DOG.
The Wilsons launched Le Fantastique last fall in collaboration with a team led by director of operations Thomas Powers and pastry chef Joe Hou. Since opening its doors, the restaurant has become the neighborhood’s go-to spot for creative dishes marked by cured and dry-aged fish. Topping off the delectable menu is an assortment French wines and an impressive array of vinyl records played on a custom-built sound system.
The concept behind Le Fantastique’s is a stripped-down approach to French-inspired cuisine executed with Japanese technique. In addition to the many raw offerings (think sea bream in clam broth and opah with welsh onion and smoked vinegar), the kitchen also prepares freshly baked sourdough shokupan and house-cultured butter with optional supplements like mussel glacage or Pacific kelp. One dish that absolutely shouldn’t be missed: the kaluga caviar eclairs punctuated by smoked onion and maple.
Le Fantastique’s main dishes include everything from braised endive with French ham and abalone veloute to cayenne-laced crispy red prawns. Dessert options include kakigori and s’more feuille to round out the menu. Beverage-wise, guests can choose from Champagne, white, and rosé by the bottle or an extensive by-the-glass list that highlights sustainably focused producers across eight regions of France (a selection of Bay Area craft beers is also available).
The decor of the space is just as distinctive as the menu: as a self-described audiophile, Robbie has made it his mission to include music as an integral element of the Le Fantastique experience. The restaurant itself was built with acoustics in mind, and focal points include a 1970s turntable and hand-built McIntosh sound system. The Wilsons designed 44-seat space in collaboration with Studio Ren Architecture, and guests can also enjoy a dining nook and listening lounge off the bar (aka “The Green Room” filled with library-inspired shelving and some of Robbie’s favorite albums.