December 19, 2006

December 19, 2006

Big news in North Beach: ~ENRICO'S~ has been taken over by Christina Deeb (one of the owners of Bambuddha Lounge, plus Nob Hill Café, Venticello, and the former Maroc in the Haight). Chef Seamus Cronin of Venticello Ristorante will also have some involvement in the project. Enrico's will be offering an American bistro menu, and in the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" style of thinking, they will also be keeping the jazz tradition alive. The space is going through a serious freshening up, with design being handled by Iris Fuller, formerly behind the much-beloved Fillamento on Fillmore. The look will be vintage modern, "with a classic aesthetic and an articulate point of view." The look will refer to the "nostalgia of old days, with the vitality of the new." They are scheduled to open in March—stay tuned! Dinner nightly to start, and then lunch and a jazz brunch soon thereafter. 504 Broadway at Kearny St.

Here's more North Beach landmark news: moving into the former La Felce space in North Beach will be the second incarnation of ~AVENUE G~ (this project's first home closed earlier this year on Clement Street). Chef Grant Schley is partnering up with Frank Bumbalo, who will be acting as the GM—they both met back in culinary school. Schley is keen to continue his concept of "San Francisco cuisine," highlighting the staple dishes from a variety of cultures, plus paying homage to North Beach and adding some Italian on the menu as well. The interior is being spruced up with a new paint job, refinished floors, drapes, banquettes and booths, and other touches to keep it a warm atmosphere with a 1940s-1950s vibe. (The staff and friends even got together to do a photo shoot for black and white pictures of them jaunting around San Francisco, all spiffed up in black suits—the photos will be hung on the walls.) They are hoping for a mid-January opening. Dinner to start, Tue-Sun, and eventually lunch and weekend brunch will kick in too. 1570 Stockton at Union St., 415-989-0399.

An update on the Bulow/Maktub empire: David Bazirgan has returned to ~BARAKA~ as executive chef. He left Baraka (he was also overseeing the kitchens at the former La Suite and Chez Papa) earlier this year to pursue a restaurant project of his own, but that project has been delayed. He will continue working at Baraka with Ereme Passado, who was the chef de cuisine who took over upon Bazirgan's initial departure. Bazirgan is busy working on a new seasonal menu and a great New Year's Eve menu as well.

~AURA~ in Bernal Heights closed last Wednesday—it was originally Chez Maman, and then morphed into a Pan-Asian restaurant under the direction of Executive Chef Mike Yakura (formerly of Le Colonial). Bulow plans to sell the space (located at 803 Cortland at Ellsworth)—any takers? You can still find Yakura over at Sutra on the Embarcadero.

Another restaurant empire check-in: it ends up ~SNEAKY TIKI~ will not be reopening after all. I ran into Greg Bronstein this weekend, and he said they decided to sell the business instead of reopen it again. Again, any takers?

~SHUNA FISH LYDON~, fruit-inspired pastry chef and thoughtful writer behind the oft-poetic blog Eggbeater is returning to Aziza to be the pastry chef (she was originally there in 2003-2004). Her menu will be up, with desserts plated by her, starting this Wednesday, the 20th.

At last, ~PICCINO~, the petite pizzeria/café/lunch spot, opened yesterday in Dogpatch. They probably won't have their wine and beer license until later in the week, so consider this week a soft opening for now. One of the partners is an alum from Pizzetta 211, and the other is coffee obsessed (Blue Bottle in the house!), so you know it's gonna be good—check it out! Hours are Mon-Fri: Blue Bottle Coffee and pastries starting at 7am; lunch (pizza, panini, soup, salad, and house-made desserts are offered) 11:30am-3pm, and weekends: Blue Bottle Coffee and pastries from 7am-noon. Weekend lunches and seven-day dinner service expected to start in February. 801 22nd St. at Tennessee St., 415-824-4224.

Speaking of coffee, there are some "stirrings" happening over at ~CAFÉ ORGANICA~, according to a post on Chowhound. Once part of the trinity of coffee here (Blue Bottle and Ritual are the other two in my book), the new owners are being trained by Eton, and they hope to open in January. Woo hoo! 562 Central Ave. at Grove St.

I have never quite thought about starting my day with a margarita (oh, wait, that's a lie) but just the same, ~TRES AGAVES~ has started serving weekend brunch (Saturday and Sunday 10:30am-3pm). You can scarf on dishes like chilaquiles de Jalisco, huevos rancheros, or huevos con bistek, plus $3 margaritas and "Bloody Marias." 130 Townsend St. at 2nd St., 415-227-0500.

Seems there has been a fun evening scene lately at ~LAST SUPPER CLUB~—some late night music, in fact. Marcus Shelby has been playing (it helps that he's a roomie of a manager there), usually from 10:30pm-2am on Friday and Saturday evenings. 1199 Valencia St. at 23rd St., 415-695-1199.

Okay, cupcake-phreeks, ~KARA'S CUPCAKES~ will be opening a second location in Ghirardelli Square at the Fairmont Heritage Place in spring 2007, along with the opening of ~MARCHÉ ON THE SQUARE~, a specialty food market offering fresh, prepared and gourmet foods, in addition to health-oriented and conventional grocery lines, with meat, poultry, and seafood products delivered daily from local purveyors, and a wine bar brasserie.

Last week I mentioned ~MENU FOR HOPE III~ (yes, it is THE hot topic on all the food boards and blogs right now) and I wanted to highlight a few of the local prizes that have a restaurant/gourmand component to them and are quite cool:

Hangar One will create a designer spirit just for you—a one-of-a-kind, small-batch, craft-distilled liquor.

$350 gift certificate for The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton

Dinner at Delfina with the Restaurant Whore

Brett Emerson, chef at soon-to-open Olallie offers a choice of:
An Intimate Dinner Party for 4 in Your Bay Area Home or A Cocktail Party for 10 or a $200 Gift Certificate to Olallie, his upcoming restaurant in SF

A plate signed by Alice Waters

Want to see more? Check out the entire list here. Raffle tickets are only $10 each. Bidding closes on this Thursday, the 22nd, at 6pm PST, so hop to it! Raffle winners will be announced on January 15, 2007. Over $25,000 has been raised so far, way to go!

Here's another thing that earned over $25,000: yes, last week's fundraiser for ~BAR CRUDO~! Is that a thing of beauty or what? I love this town. If you didn't get a chance to swing by and donate, you can still do so here on their website. And have you gone over for dinner yet? (I'm just saying…)