An "artist-run restaurant": At first, it doesn't sound like a good idea. Eateries are best when they're clean, organized, calm, and friendly, but artists aren't known for any of those qualities. Nor should they be, as they probably produce their best work when they're messy, spontaneous, passionate, and introspective. But Fog Food, the new, temporary restaurant in the de Young Art Center, combines the best of both the art and lunch worlds.
Scott Oliver/Joseph del Pesco
Irving Street's restaurants beckon, but you
won't have to choose from among them.
Seating begins at 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays
through Fridays, 1 p.m. Saturdays,
through Feb. 26
Each week in February, a different artist takes over decorating and conceptualizing the physical space, while food is brought in from the myriad restaurants in the surrounding few blocks. Menus mix and match dishes from places that offer varying ethnic cuisines to create multicultural, hybrid meals as diners enjoy the four creative environments. It's starting to sound like a much better idea, right?
The artists -- Jason Mortara, Ben Riesman, Mads Lynnerup, and Jackie Summell (in that order through the month) -- have devised fantastically bizarre, outlandish, and amusing schemes for the place. From seating shaped like takeout containers to video menus to live musical serenades to chandeliers made of chopsticks, it sounds like foodies and art lovers will want to visit Fog Food more than once. The final week has a historical element -- it features Summell's tribute to the newspaper that eventually became the Chronicle. It was called the Daily Dramatic, and used the phrase "Local, Critical, and Theatrical" as its motto; the artist plans to print her own homage editions daily.
The organizers of the installation, Scott Oliver and Joseph del Pesco, are cagey about the exact menu selections, but it's clear that variety is the spice of this place. The pair intend to "bring the culinary diversity of Irving Street onto one plate," says the project's Web site. Ultimately, this artist-run restaurant sounds like an excellent idea -- tasty, innovative, funny, and even friendly.