July 18, 2006

July 18, 2006

According to a poster on Chowhound, ~LITTLE STAR PIZZA~ is opening a second location in the former Baku de Thai and (extremely short-lived) Opium Den space on 15th Street and Valencia. I spoke with owner Brian Sadigursky, who said they are optimistically hoping to open by mid or late September. They’re gutting the space right now and doing the design themselves, like the first location on Divis. It’ll be roughly the same size, seating 49 guests. No guarantees about a jukebox for this location, but Sadigursky assured me it would be musically appealing no matter what. The same focus on beer and wine will carry over. No one in town can really touch their deep-dish pizza—it made a believer out of me. 400 Valencia St. at 15th St.

Changes are afoot in the Castro: what was slated to be another Greg Bronstein venture, Swanky Steakhouse, will actually soon be ~BARRACUDA~, a Japanese restaurant with some South American touches (hang on, I'll explain). You might remember the space as the home of Repastoria Satyricon (and ever-so briefly, Bite)—ends up the new owner, Nam Kim, will be opening a slightly more upscale version of his former restaurant Barracuda that started in Burlingame (I say former because he just sold it July 1). The 50-60 seat space will be fun and funky, urban and colorful (courtesy of Elements Design) with a full bar. The contemporary Japanese menu will be comprised of sushi while the cooked dishes will actually have more of a South American bent, like Brazilian-style meats (I guess this makes it a completely new take on "surf 'n' turf"). The chef, Alvin San, was formerly at the Barracuda in Burlingame. (Kim is opening another Barracuda in the Serramonte Mall as well.) 2251 Market St., at Sanchez St.

More news in the Castro: Bronstein's Red Grill and Whiskey Lounge is in the process of being sold to the chaps at six-year-old Chenery Park, who plan on renovating the space and reopening it as ~EUREKA RESTAURANT & BAR~ (well, that's the working name for now). The Eureka is a partial reference to the Eureka Valley neighborhood (before it became the Castro), and also the phrase "I have found it!," because the four partners (Richard Rosen, Gaines Dobbins, Joe Kowal, John Bedard) were hoping to find a second space for another restaurant for some time (this was their sixth attempt to finalize a space—the ink isn't totally dry just yet, so there will hopefully be no jinxes on this one either). Chef/owner Richard Rosen said the menu will be smaller (it's a tiny kitchen) but a bit more complex and fancier than the American Regional comfort food people have become familiar with at Chenery Park—dishes will range from $18-$30, and will be offering a level of dining that you can't really find much of in the Castro right now… The space will be lighter (no more dark steakhouse vibe), and the 80-100 seats will include seating out back under a massive yucca tree (and heaters—this is SF after all). If all goes according to plan, look for an October opening. 4063 18th St. at Hartford St.

Another change in the Greg Bronstein empire: after some chef changes and stops and starts and rumors that is was closed, then it wasn't, ~SNEAKY TIKI~ has officially closed. I tried to get a comment from the man himself, but my calls went unanswered.

Just across Guerrero from one of Bronstein's properties (Hush Hush Lounge) will be a new bakery and café, called ~MISSION BEACH CAFÉ~. (I followed up on a mention I saw in San Francisco magazine—thanks S.H.) Owner Bill Clarke used to have some fab modern furnishings in there (Jet Age—you might remember the gorg pieces in the window), and prior to that it was actually a café (Red Cat Café). Well, for this project Clarke partnered up with Michael Brennan to design the space, which will be fine-tuned to say the least. Think quality woodworking with lots of natural wood and detail, custom-designed tables, chairs and counters (Clarke was inspired by George Nakashima), and large ceramic tiles from Italy that have such a lovely patina that they almost look like leather. Clarke said the neighborhood deserves something lovely, and it sounds like they're gonna get it (with hopefully a back patio and some benches out front as well). Alan Carter, baker extraordinaire (previously of Chow) will be putting together a menu with pies (not many places where you can get good pie in this town, and lord knows Carter knows his pies) and a line of French pastry, plus popovers (!) and some offerings where pastry and savory meet, like turnovers, pot pies, and puff pastry concoctions. Plus Blue Bottle coffee to go with all that goodness. Look for a late August or September opening. 198 Guerrero St. at 14th St.

After twenty-plus years at the CCA (California Culinary Academy), I heard that Executive Chef ~HERVÉ Le BIAVENT~ is stepping down.

Those of you who occasionally venture south into the 650 are probably familiar with the renowned Village Pub in Woodside—last month I mentioned their project, Spruce, opening later this year in the former La Table space, and now the Bacchus Management Group will be coming to Union Street as well. They have partnered up with Perry Butler of Perry's, and will be ~transforming PREGO~ into a spiffy 19th century Parisian brasserie, with inspiration from famous brasseries like Bofinger, and La Coupole. (I know, Prego—I remember my parents taking my sister and me there for "night in the city" dinners in the early eighties when we were quite little.) The group will begin gutting the space down to the floorboards in about three weeks or so, and will start completely fresh. The lowered ceilings will be removed, revealing the building's high ceilings, and the awnings will be taken down as well. Come July 14, 2007 (Bastille Day next year), you should hopefully be sitting outside drinking a rose in a classic brasserie wicker chair (perhaps), or inside a chic room outfitted with authentic pieces brought back from Europe (the group is planning to go to Paris, Lyons and Belgium in October to source and pick up raw materials, and naturally find some culinary inspiration as well). The architect is Anthony Fish of Arcanum, who worked on Poggio in Sausalito. 2000 Union St., at Buchanan St.

On a side note, Bacchus Management Group is expanding their private label collection of wine and spirits—they already have a bourbon through a partnership with the esteemed Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery in Kentucky, and also a private label German Riesling—they are now partnering with WillaKenzie of the Willamette Valley on a Pinot Noir—expect more on that in the spring. Salud!

A tablehopper reader (and Chowhound poster) wrote in to tell me that ~CLIFF'S BBQ~ on Bayshore is no more—Cliff is retiring and it seems the building was sold and is being torn down to make way for condos. Mreow.

My new "stringer" also mentioned that ~ROSAMUNDE'S SAUSAGE GRILL~ in the Haight has new owners and perhaps it's not all rosy—read more here. Rosamunde's has always been a perfect thing—I seriously hope it doesn't get messed with. Considering I got hung up on when I called to inquire about the new owners, it looks like someone there doesn't want to stay.

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