May 23, 2006

May 23, 2006

Oh, so you don't think my Sideways gaffe was the only place where I was asleep at the wheel, do you? How about this one: I completely spaced on telling you the fantastic news about who the chef is going to be at the new ~YOSHI'S WORLD CLASS JAZZ HOUSE & JAPANESE RESTAURANT~ at the Fillmore Jazz Heritage Center. Excuse me while I put down this bong (kidding) and tell you: Sho/Shotaro Kamio, formerly of Ozumo! How's that for a coup?! You might remember Sho was on the brink of opening his namesake restaurant in the Marina, but the deal fell through. I'm glad he didn't leave SF—his unique and contemporary take on Japanese cuisine would be welcomed anywhere. So come Spring 2007, Sho will be back in effect. The owner of Yoshi's, Kaz Kajimura, says, "My dream chef has materialized. I could not have imagined anyone better." I have to say, he's right. Sho is currently building his dream kitchen, and planning the menu for the 420-seat jazz club and restaurant.

Been hearing really good things about two restaurants that opened last week, ~BRICK~ (1085 Sutter St. at Larkin St., 415-441-4232) and ~BONG SU~ (http://www.bongsu.com/). I was at the opening party for Bong Su and the space is definitely spiffy. Naturally, I'll let you know once I've formally checked 'em out!

I also heard from my friend at the 222 Club that ~farmerbrown~ finally opened last week. Can't tell you much since after swinging by twice to drop my card off, I didn't get any callbacks. I know, they're busy. But hey, I tried. (Twice.) The space looked cool, with distressed metal touches, like copper and some oxidized bits. Nice long bar. The owner is Jay Foster, formerly of Blue Jay Café on Divisadero, and according to their website, it looks like there will be some entertainment in the evenings. Groovy. 25 Mason St. at Market St., 409-FARM.

The Castro will soon have a slick little place to hang out, tucked under the infamous Café on Market Street. While the 23-year-olds wiggle to the latest Madonna remix and get drunk on Midori in the bar/club upstairs, the adults will be downstairs in ~CRAVE~, a lounge/restaurant from the same owners (they also own Malacca on 18th Street). Executive Chef Matthew DuTrumble was the opening chef at Geranium, the vegetarian restaurant in Bernal that closed at the end of March, and was also a chef/instructor at the CCA. Crave's approachable American-goes-International menu will have a big focus on health and creativity, showcasing new flavors and fresh ingredients. The restaurant concept is that it will be an ideal place to swing by and have a drink and a bite to eat before heading out for the evening, or winding down with some late-night nibbles (it will be open until 3am Thu-Sat). The menu will include share-ables like grilled prawns with a Marsala-spice rub and coconut cream sauce, a grilled four-cheese pizza, and New York sliders in a potato bun with shredded carrots, tomato, and their special house sauce, kept company with crumbled Gorgonzola, caramelized onion, sautéed mushrooms, and a house pickle. (Dishes will hover around $6-$12.) Dessert will feature a dish DuTrumble is calling Rendezvous Fondue, with Bailey's Chocolate, Tuaca toffee, and Amaretto white chocolate fondue served with butter cookies, cereal bar treats, candy bars, fresh fruit, almonds, brownies, and cheesecake balls. In fact, a number of the dishes and desserts will feature alcohol from the bar—even the ribs will have a Seagram's and 7up barbecue sauce.

The loungey space is designed by Lucy Dawson (who did the Malacca design), and will feature a loft with black leather ottomans for seating (a few will be flat-topped for food to rest on them) and a DJ booth, while the downstairs will have a sleek onyx bar with stainless steel wrapping and an under-light, plus curving banquettes and tables for more traditional seating. The space will be lit with a groovy LED lighting system that seems to be built in to the ceiling (LED is popping up everywhere: first Supperclub, then Temple and now Crave) and will reflect off the mirrors. Crave is opening June 2, Sun-Wed 6pm-11pm, and Thu-Sat 6pm-3am. 2367 Market St. at 15th St., 415-865-0192.

On the other side of town, one of the best late-night dining places to hit (try 1am, nightly, people), ~CAFÉ MARITIME~, is going to start taking care of the morning risers too, by serving weekend brunch as of June 10. Expect some delicious brunch fare like crab frittata, their lobster roll and crab and shrimp corn fritters, and some brekkie classics, like pancakes, French toast, and perhaps some huevos rancheros. Don't forget they have that great raw bar, and a full liquor license, so Bloody Mary can join you at your table.

So check this out: it ends up ~HAWTHORNE LANE~ is following the steps of Charlie Trotter and has taken foie gras off the menu. Hawthorne Lane served their last PB&J with foie gras from Sonoma Foie Gras about a week ago… I spoke with owner David Gingrass, and he said it was just becoming too much of a hot topic for him to want to keep it on the menu. He says, "It offends enough customers that I had to consider taking it off the menu. Even a few people are too many in my book. There are so many other things in the world I can prepare instead. In the end, you have to pick your battles. I will say I wish our politicians had a better use of our time and tax dollars, however, since there are much bigger issues that affect human lives out there that need attention besides legislating fat ducks." Die-hard foie fans can find a similar PB&J execution at Frisson when the hankering strikes.

For those who want to read more:

  • Here is a link to an in-depth piece about foie gras in New York magazine from last June—perhaps you read it? David also told me Danny Meyer in New York is taking on the politicians (after fighting with the animal rights activists for the past year) and is becoming the pro-foie/anti-government foie legislation poster child for those in the restaurant community who want the government out of their kitchens.

  • Here's a Chicago Tribune piece about what exactly goes on at Sonoma's producer, Sonoma Foie Gras. See, well, read for yourself.

  • And here's an update on the lawsuit filed by Sonoma Foie Gras against Whole Foods on May 5, 2006, for interference with their contract with Grimaud Farms.


I had a chance to speak with the new owner of ~BYBLOS BAR AND GRILL~, which is going into the former VXN space in North Beach. No, it's not the latest boutique of the Italian fashion label sporting some loud prints. Byblos the restaurant is going to have a Mediterranean menu with California touches, and will include authentic Lebanese dishes, for lunch and dinner. The owner, Toufic Mahfouz, stressed that he has extremely high standards for quality, cleanliness, and healthy ingredients. The space should be ready to open in July, with the upstairs mezzanine featuring a fireplace and a mosaic wall, and bright colors on the walls. Byblos has a liquor license, and Mahfouz mentioned there will be entertainment once dinner service is complete, like belly dancing a couple nights a week, and a range of music, from Arabic to house. He's a recording artist himself, so maybe you'll get serenaded over your shwarma plate. 270 Columbus Ave. at Broadway.

Lastly, here's a shout-out to all you writers and artists out there. My good friend (and tablehopper's designer) and her trés-talented pal are launching a new print magazine about one of my favorite subjects, meat. ~MEAT MAGAZINE~ is looking for contributors, from essays to photography to the visual arts. Definitely take a look at their call for proposal on their site—it's a great little missive about meat! They aren't paying anything right now, but they'll send you a salame if your work is accepted. Expect Meat Magazine to be released this Fall. Viva meat! And now, to Fresh Meat!

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