In San Francisco, Michelin stars can burn in unexpected places: at lunchtime cafes, at Moroccan spots way out in the avenues and at restaurants that push the limits of our culinary comfort.
But if Chef Michael Ellis nabs himself a star at his new restaurant, it will be the most unusual inclusion yet: the Penthouse Club and Steakhouse. (Yes, that Penthouse.)
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And with Ellis at the helm (who already boasts a star from Dry Creek Kitchen), it just might be possible.
"I've done it before," he said to The Huffington Post. "I think I can do it again."
Ellis is just part of the plan at the new Penthouse Club and Steakhouse which opened last week on Broadway. And while Broadway has no shortage of strip clubs, the Penthouse Club is something else.
At the steakhouse, Ellis buys produce from local family farms, dry-ages his grass-fed Sacramento Kobe beef in a Napa farmhouse and shows up at the fish market at 4 a.m., giving the Penthouse opening the same uncompromising attention at he did when he opened Charlie Palmer Steak.
And then there's the strip club.
"We wanted to do something that was completely unheard of in San Francisco," said General Manager Glenn Prime. "We want guests to walk in and feel like they've just stepped into Las Vegas."
After a multi-million-dollar renovation, the glittering Penthouse Club now boasts 15,000-square-feet, an 11-page wine list and in-house sommelier, a 40-foot stripper pole, plenty of VIP rooms and the largest champagne case in California, holding up to a quarter of a million dollars worth of bubbly at a time.
"Our mission at Penthouse Club and Steakhouse is to open our doors to the mainstream," said Prime to HuffPost. "We want to create a positive and elegant space that is open to everyone: couples, parties or people looking for a fantastic meal and entertainment. We are still true to our gentlemen's club roots, but we want to raise the bar. We are hoping to inject a breath of fresh air into San Francisco nightlife."
San Francisco and a Vegas-style gentlemen's club may indeed be unlikely bedfellows. But then again, this city is also home to Kink.com, Good Vibrations and the nation's only unionized worker-owned strip club -- surely there's a place for Penthouse Club and Steakhouse and its reach-for-the-Michelin-star goals.
And just how does Ellis intend to woo the Michelin crowd?
"The same way I did the last time," he said. "Work my ass off."
Check out photos of the new Penthouse Club and Steakhouse in the slideshow below: