Imagine everything French and delicious under one roof—a patisserie, cafe, bar, bistro and fine dining restaurant. That’s the ambitious endeavor led by a three-Michelin-starred chef on six floors, set in a French beaux-arts building that dates back to 1908. But really there is only one number that you need to remember, and that is One65, the name and address of the culinary showstopper on O’Farrell Street.
The first floor is the One65 Patisserie & Boutique. With indoor and outdoor seating, the space offers full breakfasts; eye-popping front-counter pastries, baguettes and sourdough bread; French macarons, including flavors like rose lychee, violet cassis and cotton candy; handmade chocolates and chocolate bars; ice cream bars; and a variety of sandwiches, soups and even salads to go.
Other treasures await, like a jar of the fattest vanilla beans on which you’ve ever laid eyes, sourced personally by chef Claude Le Tohic from a farm in Tahiti. He purchased a year’s supply, and they are so valuable that he stores most of them in a safe. Coming soon will be a wall “épicerie” with imported condiments, mustards, oils and spices. Just steps away, behind-the-scenes pastries are baking while Le Tohic starts his day with a flaky croissant.
Welcome to the second floor, known as the chocolate room and kitchen lab. Stepping off the elevator, you’ll find yourself peering into a glass window, where full-time confectioners create traditional and modern chocolates, which are sold on the first floor and served throughout One65. “I care about classics,” says Le Tohic, and his chocolates are proof. They are made using top-quality Valrhona chocolate and come in a variety of styles from the more traditional square ganaches, pralinés and truffles to eye-catching domes coated in vegetal-based colors. Up for appreciation is the kitchen, where the magic happens. Chefs toil away baking bread and making ice cream, including eight different ice cream bars, served in the patisserie below.
The third floor is the One65 Bistro & Grill, serving lunch, dinner and brunch on the weekends. While there is seating that faces the street, the prime view is of the open kitchen, which is lined with bar seats. This is an airy, casual-feeling space with a cool kitchen in more ways than one, starting with the fact that there is no gas and much of the cooking takes places “a la minute” in the Josper charcoal oven from Spain, which functions much like a sophisticated barbecue.
A signature dish is the impossibly flaky and light crispy onion tart, with gooey cheese, dotted with porcini mushrooms. It’s a very French chic version of a pizza and it’s irresistible. Also irresistible? The homemade sourdough bread and Bordier butter. Considered by some to be the best butter in the world, it’s made in Brittany using a 19th-century kneading technique and hand pounded with paddles. Other crowd favorites include the steak tartare and the seasonal ice cream coupes. Order a la carte or from a newly minted seven- to eight-course tasting menu.
The fourth floor houses Elements Bar & Lounge. It’s a dark and moody space with a swanky vibe, there’s a bar menu, and afternoon tea is served from noon until 5 pm. Facing the bar is a liquor cabinet with 35 lockers. Rent one to store your most valuable bottles, and you’ll be extended VIP privileges throughout One65. While drinks are served on other floors via dumbwaiter, only on the fourth floor will you find absinthe spigots, large format drinks and some of the more elaborate presentations of cocktails that incorporate the elements of earth, water, air or fire.
The fifth floor is home to O’ by Claude Le Tohic. The name is a nod to the address on O’Farrell Street, but also a play on the French word eau, and the element of water. “At its core, we are a French restaurant,” says Le Tohic, and, with all due respect to the entire operation, the fine dining restaurant is his pièce de résistance. The dining room is serene with a modern color palette of burnt orange and turquoise, and luxurious textures and surfaces. It’s both elegant and comfortable, and is where Le Tohic has fully expressed his passion for fine dining with creative flair.
Walking in, you’ll notice a lovely presentation of fresh herbs that are changed up twice a week and are used to make tisanes for guests. Luxurious touches include a nod to the chef’s time with Robuchon, his signature purée de pomme de terre, the legendarily silky and rich mashed potatoes. The chef’s attention to detail is evident in little things like the bread service. Chefs bake five different breads late in the afternoon so they are as fresh as possible. Inspired by his travels, Le Tohic shows off his collection of custom plates, bowls and glasses from all over the world (including Japan, Portugal and France) that are used throughout the evening service. His incredible respect for produce and passion for all things delicious comes through in his stunning plating, where vegetable dishes look like garden miniatures in generous dollops of caviar and a lavish cheese cart and mignardises that set a new standard of excellence. Sensitive to the desires of his guests, he recently added an a la carte menu.
The sixth floor is dedicated to private dining and the O’ kitchen. Two of the spaces have natural light streaming in, one with the theme of cherry wood that seats up to 20 people and another with the theme of moss that seats a more intimate group of up to eight. But just as appealing is an interior dining room that has a full view of the kitchen through glass. The kitchen hums along with chefs intently focused on their work, and Le Tohic introduces each one with pride. Out of earshot he comments, “I want my chefs to be passionate. I tell them to cook like they would for their wife or girlfriend or mother.” And, really, what more worthy approach is there? 165 O’Farrell St., 415.814.8888; Tues.- Sat. 5:30 to 9 pm