In 1997, Hayes Valley wasn’t nearly the fancy neighborhood it is now. The Central Freeway had closed for demolition and replacement by surface-level Octavia Boulevard only a year before, and the neighborhood had a much scrappier feel, like an extension of Civic Center. On a block of Grove Street near the symphony and the opera, that is also when Traci Des Jardins opened Jardinière.
Almost 22 years later, on Saturday, April 27, the restaurant long regarded as one of the most beautiful interiors in the city will close.
The New York Times‘ Kim Severson reports that the James Beard-winning Des Jardins — who has since opened several other restaurants, won Iron Chef, and was a finalist on Top Chef Masters — broke the news to her staff earlier Monday.
“The restaurant is pretty healthy, but it’s not thriving,” the chef told the NYT. “I looked at changing the concept and the interior, but I just didn’t want to do it. I’m ready to put it to rest. I’m tired of fine dining.”
In a sense, that last sentence is both the most and least remarkable. While hardly a relic, Jardinière hails from the same high-gloss era as Jeremiah Tower’s nearby Stars (which once stood at 555 Golden Gate Ave.) and Des Jardins’ subsequent ventures have been much more casual in feel than those days of conspicuous consumption. The San Joaquin valley native has veered much more strongly toward her own Mexican heritage, staying current with things like the Impossible Burger (albeit available only at Jardinière’s bar).
As SF Weekly reported in 2017 for the restaurant’s 20th anniversary, Des Jardins went on to open Arguello, Transit, and The Commissary — all of which are joint ventures with the Presidio Trust and Bon Appetit Management Company — plus Mijita Cocina Mexicana, and Public House. But for now, the restaurant’s site still says “quintessential San Francisco,” but you only have about 30 more days to experience it.
Jardinière, 300 Grove St., jardiniere.com