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Embarcadero Hotness: Fog City Leaves Its Diner Past For A Wood-Fired Future

Carolyn Alburger | September 20, 2013 | Story Restaurants

“My chef figured out how to make American cheese,” said chef-partner Bruce Hill (Picco, Bix, Zero Zero), almost giggling, as he escorted me to his new state-of-the-art kitchen at Fog City. The revamped version of Fog City Diner (c. 1985) hits the San Francisco culinary stage again next week. That cheese? It’ll holding court on top of a Brandt beef burger and a house-made “sweet American” bun. “It’s like In-N-Out, but 100% made in-house.” And it’s not the only thing the chefs at Fog City have figured out for the first time.

The contractor also broke down the structure’s central support wall. A risky, and costly endeavor that opened up the Flatiron of a space, so you can see from one side of the dining room, straight across the bar to the other side.

Michael Guthrie wanted this project so bad,” said Hill, going on to describe the 1958-era Cherner chairs that flank his communal table, the LED-underlit faux onyx bar, and the extra long cushy brown leather booths, which will almost make communal dining a given.

Although some have feared the loss of Fog City Diner’s retro charms, Guthrie has found a way to preserve them while modernizing the space. Don Draper would fit in here, and if he looked to the right, his steely gaze would rest on the flickering flames in Bruce Hill’s custom-made wood-fired grill. Another first-time Fog City creation, this vortex of all Fog City cooking juxtaposes the Argentine style of grilling on a Texas J & R oven. “Nobody’s got anything like this,” Hill gushes out of the side of his mouth, eyes a-twinkle.

It’s power will put forth fire-kissed cherrystone clams, a glistening whole chicken with crispy potatoes, and it will even touch the tomatoes to be pureed into a “wood-grilled tomato soup.” You can take a first look at the full menu right here.

And there are more fun conversation points for you to remember for your first visit to Fog City. Hill and his pastry chef Aaron Toensing took a course at the Frozen Dessert Institute in Missouri to learn the art of frozen custard making. In true San Francisco form, they’ve twisted these skills (quite literally) into an all-organic Straus frozen custard available at the restaurant. You can get it doused in egg yolk caramel. “That was a late night creation,” Hill chimes in. He’s also brought in another one of his all-time favorite foods: French crullers. See them bubbling away in the fryer in the gallery above, and do take a stroll through the rest of the pictures for a first glimpse at the new Fog City. After some final tweaks and testings, the restaurant will open to the public on Monday.

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