Launching as soon as next month in Little Italy is Herb & Wood, which makes its home in a former furniture store on Kettner Boulevard. The project, which spans a restaurant and market/cafe by celeb chef Brian Malarkey and business partner Chris Puffer, is independent of Malarkey's deal with Hakkasan Group (Searsucker, Herringbone). Malarkey tells Eater that he considers this venture to be his "fresh start" in the local food scene and promises to treat Herb & Wood like a boutique restaurant, even though it encompasses a massive space.
Here now, are 10 vital pieces of intel:
1. Herb & Wood will initially serve dinner six nights a week (closed Mondays); weekend brunch will follow. The main restaurant entrance will be on West Ivy.
2. It is really huge. The restaurant's footprint is 8,500-square-feet, while the entire project spans a total of 12,000-square-feet.
3. Chris Puffer designed the space with what he calls "neo-classical, well-appointed and feminine" touches, from custom lamps to rotating artwork.
4. A gaslamp-lighted outdoor lounge and dining area will be warmed by a fireplace and shaded by an ivy-covered trellis.
5. A 28-seat square bar dominates the entryway of the high-ceilinged space, where bartender Willem Van Leuven will captain a cocktail program based on fresh juices, herbs and shrubs that's described as "straightforward and not too cheeky".
6. There will be over 200 seats, both indoors and out, ranging from cozy loveseats to plush horseshoe-shaped booths and an iron chefs table placed directly in front of the display kitchen.
7. Malarkey likes to watch you eat. The chef says there's nothing more rewarding than seeing people enjoy his food, hence the entirely glass-fronted open kitchen at one end of the restaurant.
8. The kitchen houses a wood fired oven and grill that will be used to bake pizzas, finish braises, and roast seafood and meat. There will also be a large offering of raw/crudo dishes. The menu has been described as Cali-Mediterranean with some Argentine influences, all done with simple preparations.
9. Executive pastry chef Adrian Mendoza (Herringbone, Spago) will be overseeing the dessert program as well as baking bread and making butter in-house.
10. Herb & Eatery, the market and cafe part of the concept, will open 40 to 60 days after the restaurant launches.