This SF Restaurant Owner Just Pulled a Beyoncé

Aphotic dropped less than a month after SF’s Palette closed. And, yes: The same team behind the latter is now responsible for the former.

The attention span of the modern-day human being is akin to that of the current population of vaquita dolphins — nearly non-existent. Even TikToks are getting shorter, statistically. (It’s one reason why I decided to debut Underscore_SF just a day after I formally announced my departure from The Bold Italic.)

But you can’t blame us bipeds for our collective disjointedness; we’re inundated by literally hundreds, if not thousands, of stimuli every time we open our phones or laptops or turn on our FrameTVs.


How do you cut through the fray? Tailor to this current moment and time. Tease something briefly. Soft launch it, ASAP. Hard drop it with a thud.

It’s exactly what Chef Peter Hemsley, the visionary behind SoMa’s now-closed Palette eatery, did when he debuted Aphotic last week after teasing the restaurant concept in a series of newsletters.

“With the vision of Chef Peter Hemsley and the talent of our team, we are bringing an ever-evolving roster of traceable, high-quality, and underutilized ingredients to our menus, with the Ocean as our primary inspiration,” reads an email from the newly opened restaurant.


Before the announcement of the seafood-forward Aphotic, Hemsely, and the former Palette staff broke the news that the multi-concept restaurant, which also housed a gallery of rotating art exhibits, would close after four years at its 816 Folsom Street address.

The restaurant’s Instagram was scrubbed, prior to a massive garage sale it held that sold artisanal dinnerware for pennies on the dollar.

Plot twist: Guess where Aphotic is located? 816 Folsom Street. Packing materials? Not in this economy.

Aphotic’s current a la carte and tasting menus highlight marine species that have seen their flames dim in the fine-dining space — for undeserving reasons. In fact, these species are generally more sustainable to harvest than larger game fish synonymous with upscale eateries. While catches like rock cod and Pacific skate can weigh well over a hundred pounds each, they pale in size to, say, swordfish. And, by proxy, these smaller catches contain less harmful levels of mercury.

Prevalent offerings like Dungeness crab will be available when in season; over 7,000 wines are in stock to compliment a variety of plates; eleven cocktails are presently poured, all of which place an emphasis house distilled botanical and coastal-made spirits.

Aphotic means “without light” in Greek, which references the layer of the ocean that receives less than 1% of sunlight — a depth where a bulk of the restaurant’s seafood inhabits before harvesting

Hemsley last week told the San Francisco Chronicle he is buying fish from only a handful of fishermen and aquaculture farms —  TransparentSea Farm in Los Angeles being one of those — that focus on sustainability. He, himself, noted he occasionally drives up to five hours to purchase from a single individual.

For terrestrial beings with some cash to burn (read: tasting menus start at $230, sans any gratuity) on a truly memorable meal, reservations for Aphotic are now open and bookable at

Feature image: Courtesy of Aphotic

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