When my business partners and I came upon an amazing piece of property for my first restaurant, the former site of Rubicon (a famed restaurant owned by Drew Nieporent and Francis Ford Coppola), we knew we wanted to do something special—something that would bring a new dimension to the San Francisco food scene. Something everyone would remember. Something nobody had tried. I did a great deal of research into the area and into what made it so unique. When all was said and done, I realized that the answer had been right there all along: Why try to come up with something new when there’s a rich, unexplored history right at my fingertips?

Wayfare Tavern is my interpretation, or reimagination, if you will, of what a great San Francisco tavern might have been like at the end of the nineteenth century. The menu items are directly inspired by dishes from the late 1800s, amazing dishes that were waiting to be rediscovered, like fossils trapped in amber. Some are pretty close interpretations; others I’ve taken a few liberties with. Either way, they’re all authentic to the time period and they’re just as delicious as I imagined they would be from my research into that long-past era. It’s been so gratifying to find a way to really honor the past and recognize a very important food tradition right here in my own backyard. It’s food that seems at once familiar but somehow brand new at the same time. I hope you’ll give these recipes a try and I look forward to you all leaving your hearts in San Francisco sometime in the near future.