Corey Lee, James Beard Foundation Award winner and former French Laundry chef de cuisine, will open his first solo restaurant, Benu, in San Francisco this week. Benu, an Egyptian word symbolizing rebirth and new beginnings, is the culmination of Lee’s impressive 15-year career, cooking at some of the most highly regarded restaurants around the world, and will offer à la carte, tasting, and dessert menus that Lee defines as “progressive American cuisine.”
Lee enlisted architect Richard Bloch—whose design of New York City’s Sony Sushi Room helped the restaurant garner the James Beard Foundation Award for unique dining experience—to construct a clean, contemporary space for Benu with a fresh, uncluttered feel. Earth tones, natural woods, and soft lighting create the almost-mystical aura within the restaurant that carries over from its tranquil inner courtyard filled with benches, Sanga Raku maple trees, and Virginia Creeper vines. Couristan’s 1,000-square-foot, hand-loomed carpet from Thailand graces Benu’s floor, while a 32-piece porcelain line fashioned by Korean ceramic company KwangJuYo adds a fresh elegance to every table—both accoutrements were designed exclusively for the restaurant. Benu will be open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday and is currently taking reservations.