David Lawrence: Reviving soul cuisine from a bygone era

When you step into the doors of the 1300 on Fillmore restaurant, David Lawrence hopes you will be transported back to the atmosphere of San Francisco in the 1950s.

Lawrence, a Jamaican-born and English-raised chef, is the co-owner of the restaurant along with his wife, Moneta White. The restaurant is part of the New Fillmore Heritage development, a $74 million redevelopment project, which also houses luxury condominiums and Yoshi’s Jazz Supper Night Club.

“This restaurant has been in the works for five years,” Lawrence said. “Michael Johnson, the developer talked to my wife, Moneta White, about coming here and we both felt it was the right time and a good fit.”

Raised in England, Lawrence began cooking at an early age, as he was influenced by his father who was in the restaurant business.

“I was always cooking at home,” Lawrence said.

He attended culinary school at Westminster College and later began cooking with the internationally known Roux brothers, Albert and Michel, at Le Gavroche. Nearly 20 years ago, he came to California on a trip and fell in love.

After relocating here, he began cooking at 231 Ellsworth Restaurant in San Mateo. He also served a stint at the Hilton and was the executive chef at the Carnelian Room. When the opportunity came to open up his own restaurant he jumped at it.

Since its opening in October, the 1300 on Fillmore has been filled to capacity. It hearkens back to a bygone era in San Francisco, when the Fillmore Street area was called “Harlem West.” As you enter the restaurant, soothing jazz tinkles your ears as you come face to face with black-and-white pictures and images of people from Fillmore’s heyday in the 1940s and 1950s.

Lawrence says the food is American soul with a French twist. “It is a food that has a southern influence,” Lawrence said. “I like to call it North meets South.”

Items on the menu include maple syrup-braised short ribs with mashed potatoes and onion rings; bouillabaisse with lobster, crab, scallops, mussels and chunks of snapper; fried chicken served with triple-whip potatoes and a host of other meals, tasty appetizers and desserts.

“When they come to the restaurant, I want them to be comfortable, like they are coming over to my house,” Lawrence said. “People come in, they are relaxed. They have good food, good music and good booze.”

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