New wine bar with its own sashimi bar, Le Fantastique, Coming to Hayes Valley

22 Franklin Street. Photo: Google Street View
By Jay Barmann - Published on May 20, 2021.

The Hayes Valley/Mid-Market environs are about to get a new and unique sounding restaurant/wine bar called Le Fantastique, from the team behind Bird Dog in downtown Palo Alto.

Le Fantastique is moving into the ground floor of the new residential building at 22 Franklin Street, near Market, and it's a wine bar with a sashimi/crudo counter, as well as a lounge area with plush couches and an LP collection that the team is called the Record Shop. As owners Robbie and Emily Wilson tell the Chronicle today, they don't know quite how to describe the concept they're creating — "It’s just things I’ve enjoyed over my life," Robbie Wilson says. (Bird Dog, which is temporarily closed, is also known for elegantly plated crudos and fish dishes.)

There will reportedly be "tough-to-find French white wines" on the menu, and Wilson himself will man the raw bar, creating dishes from both cured and raw fish. There will also be some whimsical caviar dishes — there's mention of a caviar "jelly doughnut," and the Chronicle has a photo of mini eclairs topped with caviar, chives, and smoked egg yolk. And there will be tempura'd vegetables, and plenty of bread — Wilson says he's imported a special German oven to bake soft loaves akin to Japanese milk bread, but with the flavor of a French baguette — with house cultured butter. Check out some other dishes Wilson is playing around with on his Instagram.

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The inspiration for Le Fantastique comes out of Wilson's friendship with the late sommelier Chris Robles, formerly of the Wine Cask in Santa Barbara. Wilson tells the Chronicle that the idea came from long nights spent listening to music, drinking great wine and eating fish with bread. Thus, the menu has these as its focus.

Look for Le Fantastique to open in mid- to late June, and potentially by then it will either all be first-come, first-served or reservation-only. The cozy restaurant space only seats 44 people at full capacity, so if COVID restrictions remain in place that means there will only be room for 22 people at a time at 50% capacity. Also, when restrictions ease, there will be standing-room space at the bar.

(Sidenote: They're hiring! Le Fantastique is looking for servers, a host, a full-time wine director, and a chef de partie.)

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