When a restaurateur opens a second restaurant, I get worried. Although San Francisco is awash in folks who own two or more eateries and run them all with success, I always think, Who’s watching the store? Then, It‚Äôs hard enough to run one good shop; why spread yourself thin?
So, when Laurent Legendre, owner of the beloved Le P’tit Laurent in Glen Park, opened Chez Marius in the space that had housed Le Zinc bistro in Noe Valley, I had my usual concerns.
I needn’t have worried. Legendre has worked at leading Parisian restaurants including La Tour d’Argent, Elys√©e Len√¥tre and L’Arp√®ge, and he sent Chris Camp, a seasoned Le P’tit Laurent staffer to manage Chez Marius. LikecLe P’tit Laurent, it‚Äôs a delight.
The restaurant has two smallish dining rooms and an even smaller, sunny, dog-friendly dining garden. French posters line the interior walls; potted plants, the walls of the garden. On the single screen above the bar, the namesake French film, Marius, is likely to be silently running. It’s about life in a Marseilles bar, c. 1931. Unlike that bar, service at Chez Marius is prompt, informed, pleasant and mostly female.
The food is distinctly French without feeling too rich and heavy. A tasty good starter is Tarte √† la fourne d‚Äôambert et poire fraiche, warm blue cheese tart with fresh pears and balsamic reduction ($11). Another, Escargots de Bourgogne, six escargots from Burgundy with garlic parsley butter¬†($9). Two delicious mains are Osso-Bucco de Veau et puree de pommes de terree, sauce aux champignons,¬†braised veal Osso-Bucco served with mashed potatoes and oyster mushroom sauce ($28), and Bouillabaisse de poissons, croutons et rouille, fish bouillabaisse served with rouille sauce and croutons ($31). For a light and satisfying dessert, order Pan Perdu, caramelized French toast with caramel ice cream ($8).
Chez Marius: 4063 24th Street, between Castro and Noe. Dinner served Tuesday through Saturday; lunch, Wednesday through Friday. And brunch on Saturday and Sunday.¬†www.chezmarius.com.¬†(415) 757 0947.
Le P’tit Laurent: 699 Chenery Street. http://www.leptitlaurent.net. 415-334-3235.