The very authentic French restaurant Jeanne d'Arc inside Cornell Hotel de France has been closed since 2020, but has reopened under new ownership, and its Old France interior and art serve a feast for your eyes while you feast on French cuisine.

A ton of SF restaurants closed permanently during the pandemic, among them the 48-year-old French restaurant Jeanne d'Arc at Union Square/Nob Hill’s Cornell Hotel de France (that hotel closed a week before shelter-in-place, so these were not directly COVID-related closures). But the Chronicle reported a couple weeks back that Jeanne d'Arc had reopened in a soft opening, under the new ownership of San Diego restaurateur Manoj Chawla, who’s reopened the Cornell Hotel de France too. And Chawla has brought back Chef Bernard Moutal, who helmed the Jeanne d'Arc kitchen from 2000-2012.

Image: Joe Kukura, SFNews

That said, the Jeanne d'Arc menu is now a la carte instead of its former four-course prix-fixe. So you have your pick of cheese plate, appetizers, and entrees, though all of the entrees come with the same sides of fresh vegetables and potatoes du jour.

Image: Joe Kukura, SFNews

It’s unusual that you’ll remember a restaurant more for its interior design and art collection than for its cuisine. But the interior of Jeanne d'Arc truly does create an escape from the modern day. It doesn’t just feel like you’re not in San Francisco at Jeanne d'Arc, it feels like you’re not even even in the 21st century, or any recent century. You could call the dining experience highly Instagrammable, though much of the art here appears centuries old.

Image: Joe Kukura, SFNews

When have you ever eaten in a restaurant with doors like this? The restaurant is in the basement of the Cornell Hotel de France, which adds to the escapist, Medieval France feel. That said, the cellular reception there is spotty at best, and you may want to ask for a WiFi password if you need to be connected for some reason. (Or just ignore your phone for an hour or so!)

Image: Joe Kukura, SFNews

But let's get to the food, which is generally magnificent. The priciest entree on the menu, unsurprisingly, is a filet mignon with a sauce forestière (French wild mushroom sauce) for $62.95. But this is a true French filet mignon that absolutely lives up to the billing and price.

Image: Joe Kukura, SFNews

A roasted duck breast with peppercorn sauce ($49.95) is cut into medallions, and not served on the bone. It’s pretty lean, and not fatty, and some people like me really do enjoy more fat. This being a French restaurant, there’s also a braised rabbit with mushrooms, herb, and  red shallot sauce ($48.95).

Image: Joe Kukura, SFNews

There’s other very French standouts on the appetizer menu, including the above escargot in the traditional butter, garlic and parsley sauce ($18.95).

Image: Joe Kukura, SFNews

But this crovettes et coquille St. Jacques (shrimp and scallops in a non-traditional tomato sauce) at $32.95 really does emphasize the taste of the seafood. Look at how huge these babies are! The shrimp is cooked to perfection and has a lot of pop. I don't even care for scallops, myself, but these were wildly flavorful. And you’ll want to keep that dish with all the leftover tomato sauce, to use as a dipping sauce for the remainder of your meal.

Image: Joe Kukura, SFNews

And on some nights, there will be a live violinist playing to further authenticate this very French experience.

Image: Joe Kukura, SFNews

It’s a French dinner, so you may wish to down several glasses of wine with it. The wines are remarkably affordable ($12-$16 a glass) considering their exceptional quality. This is not Safeway wine, people.

Image: Joe Kukura, SFNews

The new Jeanne d'Arc with a slightly different menu is still truly a chip off the Old Country block. This is one of the more unique dining experiences in San Francisco; not because it is new or innovative, but because it recreates what fine dining might have been centuries ago. And the art and interior also help suspend your disbelief that you live in modern times, so we’re throwing in a few more pictures. But this is still a very incomplete inventory of the art that makes Jeanne d'Arc feel something like a miniature classical art museum.

Image: Joe Kukura, SFNews

Jeanne d'Arc is 715 Bush Street (at Powell Street) inside the Cornell Hotel de France. Open Tuesday – Saturday, 5:30-9:30 p.m., Reservations here.

Image: Joe Kukura, SFNews
Image: Joe Kukura, SFNews

Related: The 10 Best Unsung Bistros In San Francisco [SFNews]

Images: Joe Kukura, SFNews