March 21, 2006

March 21, 2006

I had a chance to chat with ~SANTE SALVONI~, the former chef of ~SLOW CLUB~ who has very recently left the restaurant, but who was very elated to land that gig over seven years ago. He was extremely diplomatic when stating, "the restaurant was going in another direction." And that's where he left it. So out of respect for his desire to not say anything, we're just going to have to leave it as a parting of ways, and the real drama is only known to those who work there. Which is fine by me, because I like him, and I like the restaurant. He does have an idea in the works, which he said is now out of the frig, and on the back burner. What that is remains to be seen, but you know it'll be good. He lives in the East Bay, so I asked if it was going to be in the 510. And you know what? The answer is maybe. Or maybe the 415. Time will tell. So will Sante—he promised once things are officially in the works he'll give tablehopper the scoop. Let's wish him well, and for now the three burners at the tiny kitchen at the Slow Club are in the very capable hands of his former sous, Chris Kronner.

Starting yesterday (March 20), the Mission's comfort food headquarters, ~LUNA PARK~, started free delivery service to the inner Mission, Castro, Bernal Heights, and Noe Valley neighborhoods, with additional neighborhoods and lunch delivery slated for the summer. So when you start Jonesing for a Cobb salad or some mac 'n' cheese or s'mores, you know who to reach out to since your mother doesn't answer your calls anymore. Delivery is from 5:30pm-10:30pm during the week, and until 11:30pm Thu-Sat. Delivery line: 415-553-8547.

A second ~GELATERIA NAIA~ location will soon be opening in North Beach, sporting its trademark bright orange awning. Naia's gelato is the closest to true Italian gelato I've found locally for some time. Yes, Ciao Bella's gelato is really good, but I get tired of the domination of the sorbets, and the oddly cranky attitude or stingy vibe around samples. The folks at Naia have a notably nicer disposition—just because you're around all that gelato doesn't mean you need to be frosty. 520 Columbus Ave.

Just across the street from Naia, Pascal Rigo's pumpkin ~BOULANGE~ awning will soon be gracing Columbus Avenue in the long-vacant Sophie's Crêpes space (just next door to the recently closed Gold Spike). There were some delays in construction, but come May, it looks like folks will be able to dig in to open-faced sandwiches, buttery croissants, and the irresistible macaroons. Those cookies are like crack. Seriously. 543 Columbus Ave.

The upcoming ~BOULANGE~ Hayes Valley location is experiencing some delays—the landlord is doing some retrofitting, so Hayes Valley residents have to sit tight for now. You'll get your baguettes soon, don't fret. 500 Hayes St at Octavia St.

Another delay that will soon be over is when ~MODERN TEA~ opens its doors at the corner of Hayes and Laguna. It's looking like March 29 or so will be the opening of this "contemporary tea salon," serving full-leaf, fair-trade, and organic teas with delish edibles, from baked goods like galettes and turnovers, to seasonal soups, to home-style hot dishes. Oh, and they'll have old-school desserts like creamy pudding. Yum. The owner is Alice Cravens, who is to tea as Beau Timken (down the street at True Sake) is to sake. She is known for importing unique and rare varieties, and with the opening of Modern Tea, you won't have to wait for dinners at Chez Panisse or Delfina to enjoy them. There will also be a full retail line available. The look will be modern with some rustic touches. Modern Tea will open for an early lunch, serving salads such as marinated noodles with a choice of chicken, tofu, or prawns, and rustic hot dishes including heirloom bean stew with cornbread. I'm looking forward to weekend brunch, when there will be waffles made on vintage cast irons from the mid-1800s. It'll be like Little House on the Prairie, but not. Modern Tea will be open Tue-Sun 11:30am-9pm, with weekend brunch offered Sat-Sun 10am-3pm. 662 Hayes St. at Laguna, 415-626-5406.

More new business in Hayes Valley, and more delays! ~CAFÉ GRILLADES~ is also opening later than planned, due to construction issues with window installation. It looks like it won't be opening in its big corner space on Hayes at Octavia until mid-April. It will be a sister restaurant to a popular establishment in San Bruno, Crêpes du Monde. Café Grillades will be serving three square meals, from classic breakfast dishes including build-your-own omelets (served all day), to more of a Mediterranean-influenced menu for lunch and dinner. Expect rotisserie chicken, Algerian couscous platters, free-range and Halal grilled meats, panini, crêpes, and sundaes for dessert. There will also be some outdoor seating. Now if only this soggy weather would shape up. Hours will be Sun 8am-9pm, Mon-Thu 8am-11pm, Fri-Sat 8am-midnight. 501 Hayes St. at Octavia Street, 415-553-8500.