February 21, 2006

February 21, 2006

So you win some, you lose some. Peter Rudolph, the chef de cuisine from Navio at the Ritz Carlton-Half Moon Bay, was brought in to temporarily fill Daniel Humm's shoes at ~CAMPTON PLACE~ and has just been announced as the new permanent chef. They are currently seeking a pastry chef, and it ends up they'll need to fill another spot as well: in March, the talented, young (and hella handsome) sommelier, John Ragan, will be leaving the restaurant, joining Daniel Humm at Eleven in New York. There is no word yet on his replacement.

And then there's more: sadly the deal has fallen through for ~SHO~ restaurant in Cow Hollow. It was originally slated to be a stylish venture by the local wild man of the santoku, Shotaro Kamio (of Ozumo), and Andrew Generalao, and designed by local hotshot Cass Calder Smith. Alas, some big Texan company got the lease and then some investor issues cropped up a few weeks ago. [Insert giant sucking sound here.] Meanwhile, the partners are back to the drawing board and have a real estate broker actively seeking another site for them. Let's hope we keep Sho in SF and don't lose him to NYC.

Now things get perkier. Just a few blocks away, the newly opened ~KWANJAI THAI~ in the former Andiamo's pasta space is quite the looker. (And she's not even wearing tight jeans.) The sleek space was inspired by some of the modern cafes in Thailand, and somewhat mimics a fuselage, with curving elements like white high-gloss built-in tables that look like undulating ribbons, and a chocolate banquette tricked out with some padded seating. The extensive menu features traditional Thai dishes with some contemporary touches, by chef Khuanruen Phopon. The owner is Matt Kirchstein, one of the partners of Butter in SoMa—this is his first restaurant. Hours are 11am-11pm, with plans to extend their hours late on Fri-Sat relatively soon. 3242 Scott St. at Chestnut St., 415-563-1285.

And then there's ~SEBO~ opening up any day now, once the classic inspection snafus wrap up. The two gents behind this Hayes Valley venture, Michael Black and Daniel Dunham, were the dynamic duo previously at Midori Mushi. SEBO (named after Michael's son, Sebastian, sounds like "seh-bo") is a modern and subdued space that integrates elements of traditional Japanese design. The intimate space has green walls the color of dark avocado and a deep grass with backlit panels emanating a soft glow, mahogany trim throughout, angular trapezoidal tables, plus six seats at the sushi bar that overlook the diminutive open kitchen. It feels welcoming, just like a friend's place. The menu will highlight a traditional approach to Japanese cuisine, so no Rock ‘n' Rolls here, with an emphasis on seasonal product, so no frozen albacore either. There will also be small and innovative plates inspired by what's happening in the Tokyo culinary scene right now, and an omakase (chef's choice) menu. Beau Timken from True Sake is crafting their sake program, so you know it's going to be stellar. Dinner will be served Tue-Sat, 517 Hayes St. at Octavia St., 415-864-2182.

Well it certainly didn't take long to get a new restaurant nestled in the cute Miss Millie's space in Noe Valley. On March 1, ~KOOKEZ CAFÉ~ (as in more than one cookie) will be swinging their doors open, offering a weekend brunch that people will be lining up for in no time flat, and a cozy dinner Wed-Sun. The menu is all about coast-to-coast American cuisine, like chicken potpie or tri-tip with blueberry chutney. And about those cookies: expect a wide range of 'em, along with some breakfast pastries, breads, and evil desserts like pear Dutch baby or coffee cake that you can take out and then binge on in the privacy of your own home. The owner is baker Lynn Marie Presley, the chef is French-trained Amir Gonzalez (Faz) and operations are being handled by Presley's son, Deano Lovechhio. They've put in new hardwood floors, freshened up the paint, and are maintaining the nice homey atmosphere. Smart cookies. 4123 24th St. at Castro St., 415-641-7773.

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