May 1, 2007

May 1, 2007

Although I am not doing a full tablehopper this week, I had to at least give you some news about a few projects… I think the new bougie mantra in the city is, “A certified humane organic free-range chicken in every pot, and a new wine bar in every neighborhood!” Coming to the Lower Haight by October or so will be ~UVA~, a project from Boris Nemchenok, who worked three years under Mario Batali at Otto Enoteca and Pizzeria in NYC as a sommelier and manager, and Ben Hetzel, a Johnson and Wales grad who has been at the SF Ritz since 2000 as a cook, captain, and cheese buyer, and who is incidentally married to Camber Lay, barmixtress extraordinaire at Range (she will actually be helping out by concocting some sparkling wine cocktails for the drinks menu). A variety of enoteca antipasti will be on offer, with many under $10 and served family style, like a variety of fish and vegetable dishes, 12-15 cheeses, salumi (they hope to be making them in-house down the line but for now many will come from Salumi, the Batali family outpost and Meat Mecca in Seattle), panini, bruschettas, tramezzini, piadine, and a tight dessert list.

The space is the old Horseshoe Coffeehouse—there was some fire damage, so the place has been totally gutted. At last, they have finally been able to start construction. There are two dining rooms, totaling 49 seats, including a 10-seat bar. The look will be rustic and clean, with lots of wood and a marble-topped bar. It will open Monday–Friday at 5pm, and since it’s a young neighborhood, they are hoping to stay open late, like 1am. But for now the closing hours are looking like 11pm or midnight (no thanks to the cranky neighbor who is raising a fuss). Brunch will be served on Saturday and Sunday starting at 11am all day, plus there will be a happy hour during the week (from 5pm–6:30pm) and on the weekends, too. Group dining will be encouraged, and there will eventually be some wine classes on Sundays. About that wine: the wine list is all-Italian, with 75-85 to start, and they hope to go up to 200. 20-25 wines will be served by the quartino in an 8 oz. decanter, or you can do 3 oz. tastings. Jim Kennedy from Sociale, an investor/partner, will be consulting and sourcing some wines unique to California, if not the U.S. Cin cin. 568 Haight St. at Fillmore.

Over in Cow Hollow, Home on Union Street will be morphing into ~PALMETTO~ in June—it will close the day after the Union Street Fair (on June 3) for a week or so, with plans to reopen by June 12. Executive Chef Andy Kitko, formerly of Gary Danko, the opening chef of Bar Tartine, and most recently a sous at Aqua, has been brought on to transform the menu of regional American comfort food into one that’s based around international comfort food. His fine dining background will integrate fab flavors and techniques but he’ll be keeping any fussiness at bay. Right now Kitko is integrating new dishes as specials (just last week he had a warm fava bean salad with pecorino, pea shoots, and romaine hearts on there) and is excited to add more as the kitchen gets up to speed. There will also be a bar menu added, encouraging people to just swing by for a drink and bites if they are up for some low-impact dining. Cass Calder Smith is overseeing the redesign, and will brighten the space up and and make it feel more energetic, with new carpets, paint, a new bar, lighting, and other touches. The hours will be the same, and the buzzing weekend brunch isn’t going anywhere. 2032 Union St. at Buchanan, 415-931-5006

I mentioned a couple weeks ago the Juni space closed on Sutter—moving into it will be ~SUDACHI~, a loungey joint that will be serving sushi and Mediterranean-Asian fusion tapas, with live jazz late into the evening. (Sudachi is a Japanese type of citrus, more like a Kaffir lime than, say, yuzu.) There will be a full sushi bar with sashimi specialties, a raw bar, plus family-style shared plates, many with a vegetarian focus. I took a look at the preliminary menu, and some dishes definitely have an inventive spin, like organic homemade tofu fries served with garlic, momiji oroshi (grated daikon seasoned with chili paste), and white truffle oil; and a carpaccio trio of Kona kampachi (young yellowtail) with pistachio oil, and ruby red zest, plus Hokkaido hotategai (scallops) with heirloom tomatoes, shiso oil, and black sea salt, and then Kobe beef with fresh ground wasabi, young ginger, sudachi vinaigrette, and micro red shiso. The owner is Ming Hwang, who recently opened Shiso in Sonoma, and has also opened places in Texas, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. He also has worked at Tokyo Go Go as a sushi chef and GM. The beverage program will be highlighting quality sojus and wines, with some medium to high-end sakes served as well. The designer is Oblio Jenkins, who was behind the moody atmosphere of the Oola space in SOMA; the teppan setup will be yanked, and in its place will be a 12-seat cocktail lounge in the front with a custom bar, and a custom sushi bar is going in as well. The intention is to employ as many green build-out practices as possible—for example, the bar is made from sustainable walnut from Pt. Reyes. There will be panels of fabric hanging from the ceiling, and mobiles that will change with the season, plus three or four tatami tables and a private tatami room. The front is designed to be more casual and social, with the back of the 3,400-sq.-foot space offering a more intimate vibe. Hwang has a community focus, and will be rotating local art every three months. Dinner only will be served, with the lounge vibe kicking in at 10pm and serving a late-night menu until 1am. The plan is to launch the jazz program in July, with live jazz Wed–Sat. The restaurant will have a soft opening in early June, and be open nightly. 1217 Sutter St. at Polk, 415-623-8625.

Coffee fanatics: guess what? Mr. Espresso is launching their new coffee bar concept in SF, appropriately named ~COFFEE BAR~. This first coffee venue will be moving into the former Arc Café space, which is now closed. The plan is to open by August, if not sooner, with other locations to follow. The project is from Jason Paul and Luigi DiRuocco, who have been friends since they were little. A really skilled staff will be going in, with trained baristas who know what a quality coffee is, from ristrettos to a proper drip coffee. There will also be beer and wine, plus a kitchen turning out small plates for lunch and in the evening. Overseeing the kitchen is Rob Pevitts, a CCA grad, and Michael Richardson from Axis Café will be acting as the GM. The outdoor area is going to be majorly overhauled, and the indoor will be more inviting, and will include a tasting room where Luigi’s father will be leading some seminars. Coffee Bar will be open all day. More to come as details emerge. 1890 Bryant St. at Mariposa.

~ANDALU~ is launching “Art-First Monday,” a free monthly art gathering from 9pm–midnight, celebrating the work of local artists. The first event will be on Monday, May 7th, celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Precita Eyes Muralists. Going forward, Andalu will host a monthly rotating installation of San Francisco-based artists, co-curated by Suaro Cevantes and Robert Melton, and underwritten by Andalu’s owner, Calvin Schneiter. “Art-First Monday” is the result of a collaborative vision between all three men to have greater support locally for the arts and artists. For the launch, Cervantes and Melton have created a show of work by San Francisco muralists Luis Cervantes and Susan Kelk Cervantes, and will be unveiling the newest mural above Andalu’s bar. 3198 16th St. at Guerrero, 415-621-2211.

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