SP2 Communal Bar + Restaurant Opens in San Jose
A new restaurant, SP2, has opened its doors in downtown San Jose, featuring the talents of Executive Chef Ola Fendert. Acclaimed for his work at Oola in San Francisco, Fendert has ventured out of the city where he earned his culinary fame to explore new territories in Silicon Valley.
The restaurant’s name, short for San Pedro Squared, references the district, one of the oldest districts in the city.
The restaurant’s interior, while featuring a clean, modern design, embraces the town’s historic roots. Intimations of the past, when San Jose was ranchland and cowboys, echo everywhere. The building where SP2 set up shop used to be a large horse stable and you can still see the great wooden crossbeams overhead. The bar runs along the whole right side—where horses once pawed at hay and dust—and its wine and spirits are displayed along a vast brick wall splashed with natural light.
SP2’s cuisine is derived from several culinary traditions, including classic French cooking with accents from Southern-style comfort food. The rack of ginger-soy-glazed baby back ribs, one of the best-selling items on the menu, are braised until they fall apart, and then deep-fried for a crisp exterior. The result is tangy and succulent meat that almost melts on the tongue while still offering a satisfying crunch. It’s certainly a dish worth the mountain of moist towelettes required for clean up.
“We use the best quality we can, sourcing locally as much as possible, and keep it simple,” says Fendert. SP2’s kitchen, managed by Chef de Cuisine Kelvin Ott, makes everything from scratch, including the pasta. A wood-burning oven imported from Italy burns between 700° and 800° all day, cooking pizzas in 2–3 minutes. They even hand-pick the salmon to ensure the highest quality.
The bar program, run by co-owner Ryan Hisamune, offers a selection of creative signature cocktails.
“Our drinks are made with fresh produce that we get locally. We use fresh juice, watermelon and strawberry purées, and we make our own syrups,” says Hisamune. The syrups include unique flavors like black peppercorn and ginger-jalapeño.
The cocktails themselves are innovative departures from classic drinks. The Sandia Smokey, made with mezcal and watermelon juice with chili pepper salt on the rim, is a version of a margarita.
“The chili pepper really goes with the watermelon. The combination is a classic Latin American dessert, and the drink is a nod to Latin American culture, which is central to California,” says Hisamune.
The bar also offers punches made from cognac and port, served in giant Mason jars brimming with blueberries, raspberries, lemons and other whole fruits. The punch is enough to quench the thirst of a whole table of people. For winter, SP2 plans to serve cider-based variations.
The drink that is perhaps the most emblematic of SP2’s ties with history is an unassuming golden brew called the Drawbridge.
“Drawbridge was named after a ghost town that used to sit on one of the main railroads leading to San Francisco. In honor of the town, I used Bulleit bourbon and Milagro Silver tequila to evoke the Wild West imagery. I like the romance,” says Hisamune.