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Nov 9, 2011 03:20 PM

Orson closed, makeover in progress

"We have closed the restaurant Orson and are in the process of a new big concept in our fabulous space in early 2012. In the meantime we've got several great things in store for you!"

Still available for private events and they're having some special events, such as a Next Iron Chef viewing party tomorrow night.

Orson Restaurant
508 4th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

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  1. I heard elizabeth faulkner is going to use the space to host pop-up style restaurants before its makeover is complete.

    I ate once at Orson. The food was very mediocre and the layout was weird. It had the vibe of a once trendy club sliding into anonymity. Very bare and the empty tables lent a depressing note to the evening. Passing by regularly afterwards, I never once saw it busy so not surprised it's closing.

    Not to be too negative on Faulkner, who is probably a talented chef in her own way, but I also recently tried citizen cake's macarons and thought them to be the worst I've ever experienced. I wonder if I'm missing something about Faulkner's cuisine?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Scotty100

      I've been there when it was full, the space has a nice vibe when it's busy. Weird when quiet.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        It was my favorite SF restaurant and I was very , very sad to hear it was closing. : (
        The service was occasionally quirky but the food was always yummy.
        We went for our 10th anniversary in July with some friends and had a great time.

        Gabriel was the best server in the house recently and Maya is a super-talented young pastry chef from whom I'd love to experience more delicious innovation. If anyone hears about where either of these wonderful people end up, I'd love to know.

        I really like Chef Faulkner and her work, but I looked at Citizen Cake's menu and it just didn't grab me, let alone entice me all the way into the City to try to find parking in that neighborhood.

        So, now my question to you Chowhounds is this:
        Where I can currently find a similar style of menu that is innovative, fun, delicious, moderately priced (under $25/entree) with a loungey, laid back, not-too-loud atmosphere and a nice, reasonable-priced wine list?
        Special priced tasting events/menus, killer desserts, not a lot of emphasis on fish (my husband doesn't eat it) and good, consistent service would make it a home run.
        SF easy to get to from the Bay Bridge with relatively available parking or East Bay near Alameda/Oakland/Berkeley please.
        Looking forward to finding our next favorite place with your help. Thanks!

        1. re: BigWoodenSpoon

          Mua's not always too loud.

          2442A Webster Street, Oakland, CA 94612

        2. re: Robert Lauriston

          Agreed. When full, it takes on a fun warehouse club vibe, and what seems like depressingly gaping spaces when empty becomes refreshingly open breathing space between tables.

          There is one drink that I had there that I remember to this day: it was topped with an osmanthus foam, and named something vaguely Asian (Shanghai something or other?) . I love osmanthus flowers in my tea, and have been trying to get a bar in the city to recreate it for me. To no avail: it is one of those wonderful things that is only meant to be experienced once.

      2. I went to the Next Iron Chef party last night. It was fun eating more or less the same dishes the judges were discussing on screen.

        The pork schnitzel with a mustard sauce, braised fennel, and apple salad was good. She couldn't duplicate what she made for the show as white asparagus and rhubarb are out of season.

        The savory bagel and cream cheese ice cream with smoked salmon concassé, grilled eggplant and black olive purée, and toasted bagel crumbs was one of my favorite modernist / deconstructed dishes ever. It tasted just like bagels with lox and cream cheese, except the textures and temperatures were totally different.

        There were also various pizzas coming out all night, some nice Waldorf salad skewers, and a raffle for some bottles of wine and tickets to the next one.

        $43.19 included three drink tickets. Really fun. Falkner said the next one will be Tuesday, ticket link not posted yet.

        1 Reply
        1. I recently ate at Citizen Cake and had one of the worst dining experiences in a long time. The restaurant was poorly run, the fried chicken was so salty I couldn't eat it and the cases that house the desserts were dirty. The chocolate on one of the desserts in the case had bloomed.

          I have a feeling she won Iron Chef and will be heading in that direction or didn't win, but has been offered a show of her own. Her heart and head doesn't seem to be in her restaurants. I wouldn't be surprised if they gave up the space after New Year's Eve.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Jim

            I wouldn't doubt she won. She has been on every "celebrity" chef competition TV show between Food Network and Bravo some multiple times. So they probably feel they owe it to her or she has finally learned the ins and outs to win.

            1. re: Jim

              We were thinking the same thing. Her performance on the shows so far is certainly consistent with winning.

              I'd be kind of surprised if she gave up the space. I believe they do a good business in private events (Moscone's two blocks away).

              1. re: Jim

                You won't have to put up with Citizen Cake much longer. It, too, is closing. According to news reports, after Falkner moved it to its new location in early 2010, it took nearly a year to complete renovations and open and she couldn't afford to carry the costs any longer.

                This may explain why she was so intent on winning The Next Iron Chef.


                The Food Network web site also has photos of her TNIC journals which have some revealing personal details about her needing a "life changer" in her life.

                1. re: taos

                  If she put as much effort into a restaurant as she did on TNIC then her restaurants may not be closing.

                  1. re: Scott M

                    I agree Scott. I think her heart and head aren't into it anymore. Why would a celebrity chef run an event space, it doesn't make sense. She's just trying to make some money during the holiday season and believe me, once the New Year's party is over, the doors close for good.

                    1. re: Jim

                      Maybe. On the other hand, if she has the space booked up with private events through the end of the year, why not wait until January (slowest month of the year in SF) for the makeover she says she has in mind?

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        One can hope that she doesn't fly the coop now that she is not the NIC.
                        Crossing my fingers that she stays, resets, keeps her core team together and gives us something new & exciting. Please Nice Lady!