Kiln Opens This Week By Michelin-Starred Industry Vets In San Francisco’s Hayes Valley

New Tasting Menu Restaurant Will Highlight Quality Ingredients, Minimalism and Technique
Photo: Kiln Instagram

Kiln, which opened on Tuesday, May 16th, is a new 3,400-square-foot fine-dining concept located in Hayes Valley from Michelin-starred industry vets, Partner/Chef John Wesley and Partner/General Manager Julianna Yang. Through a minimalist lens and with the use of technique, the tasting menu is a study of intention, simplicity, and purity of flavor. As such, the cuisine at Kiln is focused on seeking out the finest quality ingredients from around the world and is not tied to any specific culture or geographical region.

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“The whole concept is rooted in showcasing the ingredients in their simplicity by using various techniques to hone in on their flavor,” says Wesley in a statement. “Our diners will see two to three items on the plate in front of them, but in reality, there are 15 different components that require two to three days of kitchen prep. Everything is done with intent.” Yang adds further context for the restaurant’s name: “With heat and time, raw materials enter a kiln only to emerge elementally transformed and an experience at the restaurant is meant to explore that transformative process through our food menus, beverages, hospitality, and atmosphere.”

Wesley and Yang previously worked together at Michelin-starred Sons & Daughters in San Francisco; Wesley, as Chef de Cuisine and Yang as General Manager. Wesley, who has experience at two and three Michelin-starred restaurants is joined by Chef de Cuisine Carlos Andrade, the former Sous Chef of Sons & Daughters. The duo’s background has inspired a desire to showcase high-quality ingredients, and excellent service in order to provide an incredible experience at Kiln. Every dish will be process-driven and ingredient-forward, not tied to a specific geographic cooking region yet showcases Wesley’s culinary background. The purveyors near and far will include farmers, sustainably sourced meats, and wild-caught seasonal, seafood that share Kiln’s dedication to quality such as Petrossian Kaluga Caviar, Portuguese Blue Lobster, Half Moon Bay Spot Prawns, Japanese Shima Aji, Modesto Squab, Maui Nui Axis Venison, and Wild Boar from Texas. Preservation, fermentation, curing, and thoughtful open-fire cooking will be used throughout the menu. The Extended Menu ($225) will be 18 to 20 courses and is meant to be enjoyed in two and a half to three hours. The Abbreviated Menu will be 8 to 10 courses ($135) and is meant to be enjoyed in 90 minutes to two hours.

The beverage program will be spearheaded by Beverage Director Vincent Balao, who has over 15 years of experience working with dedicated, award-winning chefs in fine-dining restaurants. Most recently, Balao was the Lead Sommelier at Atelier Crenn and has spent time at Spruce, Benu, Atelier Crenn, and Bar Crenn. “Much like food, beverages can broaden people’s minds about pairing and Kiln will not only serve wine but include beer, cider, and sake as pairings,” says Balao. With the goal of exposing diners to pairings that they would never have imagined, he is working hand in hand with the BOH team to develop complimentary beverages, such as classic old-world and new-world wines, Champagnes, ciders, sake, and alcohol-free spirits like Seedlip, Proxies, and Lyre’s. In addition, they will be fermenting kombucha and shrubs for use in the non-alcoholic pairings. Sample pairings include dry Riesling, Japanese sake, and French cider. The options are an Extended Beverage Pairing ($165); an Extended Spirit-free Pairing ($125); an Abbreviated Beverage Pairing ($105); and an Abbreviated Spirit-free Pairing ($75).

Wesley and Yang discovered that the 149 Fell Street location was on the market in the beginning of 2023, which was originally a 1910-era auto garage and was redesigned by Charles Hemminger of Hemminger Architects in 2015 to become a restaurant space. Hemminger specializes in unique adaptive reuse projects of once-industrial properties throughout the Bay Area and has worked on several large restaurant projects in the last 10 years. The duo worked cohesively to design the new restaurant’s aesthetic, which translates to the minimalist philosophy of Kiln. The focal points upon walking through the newly built 40-ft long corridor into the dining room will be the open kitchen and a 7-ft x 7-ft hearth. Upon capturing the view of chefs in action coupled with the 15-foot live olive tree in the center of the dining room and being seated at your table, the transformative experience from outside will be complete. The decor will be minimalist and industrial yet elevated and comfortable in the airy, open space that features 30-ft high ceilings and original cement walls. Lighting throughout will be dark and moody with warm spotlighting at each table to create a dramatic, stylized dining space. Kiln will offer lounge seating and 10 tables in the dining room. Seating for 8 will be available at the bar in the next few months, which will bring the total to 34 seats in the restaurant.

Kiln will feature a variety of unique products from international artists such as Bird & Branch Turnery wooden tableware (London, UK); Zelmer Olsen glass pieces (Björnholm, DK); porcelain from Jacques Pergay (Limoges, FR) and Arita Porcelain Lab (Saga Prefecture, JP); and ceramics from KwangJuYo (Seoul, SK) and Newjiii Ceramics (Seoul, SK).

Kiln will be open Tuesday through Saturday with seating times ranging from 5:00 to 8:30 pm. The restaurant is located at 149 Fell Street, San Francisco, CA 94102.

Lisa Hay

Lisa is a staff reporter for What Now Media Group. She covers new restaurant, retail, and real estate openings across all of our markets. A true foodie, this Air Force veteran has lived all over the world — from Aviano, Italy to Nairobi, Kenya — but her favorite spot is NOLA for its rich history, architecture, culture, and of course, its good eats.
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