Photographs by Julia Spiess and Nathan Ziebell.
Predictability and permanence is overrated. At least according to Matt Semmelhack, the San Francisco-based restauranteur and owner of the recently opened TBD restaurant in the city’s Mid-Market area. Semmelhack’s second restaurant, TBD is an amalgam of his experience both as a foodie and a design enthusiast. His life as the former began as an undergraduate at Princeton University, where he studied anthropology and developed an intense interest in food ways in the United States. His life in design began shortly after, when he temporarily set aside his food-persuits to work in real estate and consulting in Manhattan. “Design, building and construction are major passions of mine,” he notes, “Working in real estate was an excellent crash course in the layout and design of spaces and how people interact within them.” His work with food studies and design imbued Semmelhack with a passion for artisanal, expertly crafted food and aesthetics, something that is reflected in the unique ethos of TBD.
The name TBD, shorthand for “To Be Determined,” often connotes something that is unfinished or incomplete. The guiding principle of Semmelhack’s restaurant, though, is to remove the negative connotations such ideas have— TBD is more about a journey, an exploration of foods and culture that is, like most things in life, ever-changing and ever-evolving. The restaurant’s menu, developed alongside executive chef Mark Liberman, is in a constant state of flux, changing with the seasons and the availability of certain ingredients. The showcase of both the restaurant’s design and culinary philosophy is the space’s central hearth, within which most of the dishes are fired, roasted, and smoked. “We designed TBD to push the limits of cooking with fire,” Semmelhack says. Playing off of this hearth are a number of nature-derived and campsite-inspired decor elements—things that speak to Semmelhack’s desire for a space that is simultaneously welcoming, casual, and upscale.
Check out all of the photos of this beautiful, dynamic space plus our short interview with TBD’s Matt Semmelhack after the jump! —Max