May 22, 2007

May 22, 2007

Big news out in Dogpatch (I’ve been working on an article about this neighborhood for San Francisco magazine, stand by): Erin Rooney, the owner of ~SLOW CLUB~, is opening her second restaurant, this time in the Dogpatch ‘hood; she hopes to have it open by the fall. There is no name just yet, but the idea is to create a sister restaurant to Slow Club, with the same style cuisine. Both lunch and dinner will be offered, with brunch to come. (She is also hoping to land a liquor license.) The space is slightly bigger (60 seats compared to Slow Club’s 45) and the kitchen will also be a tad larger than Slow Club’s—which means executive chef Chris Kronner, who is going to oversee both kitchens, will be able to do a bit more menu-wise. He is developing the menu, and since he’ll be at the new restaurant a lot, his sous chef at Slow Club, Jesse Koide, will most likely be ramping up in kitchen responsibilities (and probably title too).

Rooney has been looking to do a second restaurant for a couple years, and will be happy to serve all the creative types who work (and live) out in Dogpatch. The restaurant is moving into the former Third Street Café—it was a Chinese American cafeteria-style restaurant for 22 years. The space is going to have a major overhaul, including removing the dropped ceiling that’s obscuring the 18-foot-high ceilings and the sheetrock covering the two brick walls. Rooney has tapped Eric Heid to design the restaurant—he is behind the design of Range and Spork. The space has some good history: it dates back to 1915 and was part of the American Can Company; this location was the boiler room. Yup, it’s gonna be hot. 2495 3rd St. at 22nd.

Now let’s scoot on over to Glen Park, where two more spots will be added to its growing roster of groovy restaurants: first is ~SANGHA~, which a long time ago used to be a wine shop. The name is Sanskrit for “community” or “a gathering of people.” The 35–40 seat restaurant will serve Japanese fusion and sushi; lunch will be more casual, while dinner will be focused on finer dining. The executive chef is Gerardo Torres, who has worked at Blowfish, Moki’s, and Mas Sake; Ric Lopez, the owner of Modernpast is behind the restaurant. The look will be modern organic/Zen, with tables topped with cut granite, a pebble bar with a slab of stone for the ledge, chairs in bent wood, and neutral tones. The dishes are all by Heath, and local designer Julie Weston created the staff uniforms. If all permits and approvals go according to plan, Sangha should be open in early June. 678 Chenery St., at Diamond.

Just across the street in the former Red Rock space (another property Ric Lopez owns) will be ~P'TIT LAURENT~, a classic “bistro Francais” from Laurent Legendre, the original owner of Clementine and Bistro Clement. Eliseto Soto, formerly of Plouf, Bistro Clement, and La Suite, will be in the kitchen, cooking up some classics like frogs’ legs, plus mains like cassoulet and rabbit. The 47-seat bistro will have a waiting room with a sofa and chairs, and a black and white tiled floor at the entrance, while the dining room will be carpeted, with tablecloths on the tables and classic bistro chairs with leather, plus two banquettes, pressed tin ceilings, and a hand-painted mural that gives the impression you are under the Eiffel Tower. Expect some assorted French ephemera as well, such as vintage serving platters, roosters, and other details. There will be a bar with seven seats, and since they have a liquor license, it should get some good use. 200 French, domestic, and international wines will be served. Dinner will be served nightly (opening hours are 5:30pm–10:30pm) and weekend brunch from 9am–2:30pm. Expect an early June opening. 699 Chenery St. at Diamond, 415-334-3235.

Some changes on Haight Street: after a year of charming us with his sliders and smiles, chef Eddie Blyden has left, and is currently traveling in Sierra Leone in Africa—I’ll see what he’s up to once he returns. Taking his place at ~THE ALEMBIC~ is Joseph Boness, formerly at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco and Campton Place. (He was also a sous at Macrina Bakery and Cafe in Seattle.) Boness is really into local ingredients, sustainable practices, and has a start-from-scratch mantra—he is even planting an aromatic herb garden in the back this week (he’s also planting five types of hops [yes, those are hops, what the heck did you think they were?] which he is considering using for some food pairings and some small batch brews). While continuing the comfort direction Blyden started, Boness is fired up to bring some new items on the menu, like handmade pasta, salt-packed sardines, and charcuterie too, which he’s going to collaborate on with David Coleman, the new chef at Magnolia (see below)—they are buddies who met back when they were at the CCA. 1725 Haight St. at Belvedere, 415-666-0822.

So ~MAGNOLIA PUB & BREWERY~ now has David Coleman manning the stoves as of the past couple weeks—he was formerly at Salt House and Campton Place. He’s already added some house-made Merguez sausage and bangers and mash to the menu, plus he’s an avid homebrewer, so he’s obviously into beer, and therefore knows the drill. (Yup, owner Dave McLean is really stoked with his new chefs.) Did you know Magnolia offers a full menu until midnight, and 11pm on Sundays? They also added Blue Bottle coffee and espresso to the menu, with a beautiful new espresso machine to boot. You can now get individual press pots of organic, freshly roasted, and ground Three Africans coffee and ristretto shots of Hayes Valley Blend espresso, plus cappuccinos and lattes, using organic, local Strauss milk. 1398 Haight St. at Masonic, 415-864-7468.

Some staff additions over at ~MECCA~: they have hired a new wine director, Ginny Brown, who was formerly at supperclub and the Park and Beach Chalet. And call me out of the loop, but the ever-charming Gil Duncan of Olive sold his little Larkin Street enclave (darn, I loved that joint) something like five or six months ago, and is now the lead mixologist at Mecca. He is crafting a new cocktail list—now you have a great excuse to swing by and say hi in case you were wondering where he was. 2029 Market St. at Dolores, 415-621-7000.

Now for some closings and hunches and deals and such:

~AVENUE G~, the restaurant that opened up in the La Felce space in North Beach after formerly giving it a go on Clement Street (in 2006) has closed. I didn’t know how those guys were going to manage that monster rent. I also didn’t get a response to a couple calls I made, so that’s that. 1570 Stockton at Union, 415-989-0399.

Speaking of monster rent, I heard the steakhouse that was planning on moving into the closed ~MACARTHUR PARK~ space on Walton Park has backed out. Check this: the landlord wants something like $33k a month. That’s a lot of ducats. Seems they are hoping for some chain to move in. How lovely. With that rent, I don’t know who could move in. Maybe a big-time drug dealer. 607 Front St. at Jackson.

I’ve been sensing things are afoot at ~SENSES~ on Valencia for some time… I heard some folks have been looking into buying the space (it’s been up for sale for a while), and it’s now dark on Open Table. And the website is gone. The phone line and the sign for two-for-one dinners are still up, however. 1152 Valencia St. at 22nd.

~SPANISH FLY~, the tapas place on Geary and a project from the Straits group of restaurants (it was the former home of Straits Café before it moved to the Westfield Centre), has shut its doors. It was doing well on the weekends, but the slow business early in the week and no liquor license made it a tough business to keep running. The Straits folks are currently seeking another home for the concept in the 650, like in Burlingame. I’ve heard about a new potential tenant moving in, but they asked me to not mention what it is until the deal is done, so stand by. 3300 Geary Blvd. at Parker.

Speaking of deals, I found out the deal brewing between Jay Foster of farmerbrown and the ~PLUSH ROOM~ in the York Hotel is off.

Also found out that ~(415) ASIAN RESTAURANT & LOUNGE AND CALIFORNIA STREET DELICATESSEN AND CAFÉ~ are on the brink of being sold—not sure who the new operators are yet. Their last day of operations will be this weekend. Maybe the JCC can convince Zabar’s to come west? Now that’s a thought. 415 Presidio Ave. at California.

The folks at Joie de Vivre Hospitality seem to have beat Hubert Keller at launching a gourmet burger concept in San Francisco: opening at the end of June will be ~CUSTOM BURGER/LOUNGE~ in the former Peppers Bar and Grill in the Best Western Americania in SoMa. Yes, the Pepto pink hotel is now a JDV property that is opening next spring (the pink will be painted over soon with white). Paul Arenstam of Americano is consulting on the concept and sourcing the ingredients for CUSTOM. You’ll be able to choose off a pad and customize your burger, with choices like Angus, or American Kobe, or even a weekly special, like an ahi or salmon burger (plus some low-fat options, like turkey, chicken, or vegetarian). There will also be some unique apps and both fresh-cut fries and sweet potato fries, plus soups, salads, and dessert. There is an adjoining lounge, with an aquamarine color scheme and a David Hockney kind of look. You can opt to eat your burger in the lounge, and there will be DJs playing on the weekend. Renovation started Monday, and the plan is to open by the end of June, July 1 by the latest. 121 Seventh St. at Howard.

Many folks in Nob Hill have noticed that ~THE NOB HILL GRILLE~ has new owners: Rich Paez and Fabio Stefani, who met while they were working together at Bobo’s on Lombard. They bought the 44-seat restaurant back in January and closed it to renovate—they reopened in April with a new look and menu. The chef, Eric Rud, was formerly in Minneapolis, earning three stars from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune when he was the executive chef of Biella, and after a few projects here in the City, he really wanted to get back in a kitchen. (Some may remember I reported on Rud as the new owner of Union Street Pantry back in September, but he sold it after a landlord dispute.) This Wednesday he will start offering dinner, with a menu mostly geared toward American comfort food. Dishes include a beef salad, with entrées like pork chops, a flatiron steak, and burgers. Entrées are priced right for what I like to call low-impact dining: most average out to $15. Breakfast and lunch have also been spiffed up in recent months, with offerings like breakfast sliders (three mini breakfast sandwiches on brioche) and lunch includes a Thai fish burger, a Reuben, and a BBQ pork sandwich. Weekend brunch has a new favorite amongst regulars: crab Benedict. 969 Hyde St. at Pine, 415-474-5985.

I had a chance to chat with ~ROBERT CUBBERLY~, who recently left Le Petit Robert (reported in last week’s tablehopper)—seems he decided it was time for a change and is going to enjoy taking a little time off (well-deserved after more than 25 years of working hard in various kitchens). He is looking into some potential consulting or corporate gigs—we’ll see where he pops up.

So I went to the friends and family opening of the new wine bar, ~DELL’UVA~ in North Beach on Friday night—they still need to get the window counter installed, but the bathroom ceiling is mighty clever. It’s right across the street from Nua. 565 Green St. at Grant, 415-393-9930.

Not too long ago I wrote of Campo dei Fiori, the Italian café/restaurant opening on Columbus and Broadway in the old Bank of America building. After partying at the opening of Dell’uva, my friend and I got to join Campo’s owner, Enzo Pellico, and some peckish pals for a late-night spaghettata at the restaurant (we had some fab pasta all’amatriciana made with some heavenly guanciale and drank up some vino rosso, ma certo!). I found out the name was changed to ~`E TUTTO QUA~ (it’s Italian for “it’s all here”). Based on everything Enzo was telling us about what was going to be on the menu, I have to agree. Things are looking good for a June opening. 270 Columbus Ave. at Broadway.

Speaking of Italians, the ~“SLOW FOOD/CARLO PETRINI VS. FARMERS”~ flap was seriously burning up some blogs and sites last week. To catch up on the ruckus you can check out some posts on the Ranch Gordo website (I have to admit the fight poster cracked me up, complete with some luchador mask action), I Heart Farms and The Ethicurean. I am sure there are more, but trust me, that’s plenty to read at the moment.

Over in Potrero Hill, opening in the former Klein’s Deli space will be ~JAY’S DELI~. It’s from a husband and wife team, and is named after their son. The grand opening is this Thursday, May 24. They are focused on organic meats and products for their deli sandwiches (and they are using Acme bread), plus homemade soups will be offered (one is a Tuscan ribollita), salads, specials, and they mentioned a very tasty vegetarian black bean patty too. A variety of coffee drinks will be offered, with coffee from Mr. Espresso. There will also be a monthly wine and chocolate club on Thursday evenings, when you can taste wines from a featured winery (sidebar: the husband in the venture, Allan Ransley, is a winemaker from New Zealand) and taste some cheeses and chocolates. There is seating in the front and back, and inside there are six four-tops. The business has a green and sustainable focus; for example, their countertop is made of recycled material, they will use recycled products, and they have a goal of composting and recycling up to 100% of their waste. Open Mon–Fri 7am–7pm, Sat–Sun 8am–5pm. 501 Connecticut Street at 20th, 415-824-JAYS (5297).

The city’s only revolving restaurant, the ~EQUINOX~, atop the Hyatt Regency at Embarcadero 5 is closing—the last day is May 30. After a renovation this summer, it will be converted into a Regency Club, an extra amenity for hotel guests and a place where they can enjoy cocktails, breakfast, and lunch. Kind of like an airport Admirals Club. 5 Embarcadero Center, 415-291-6619.

And now for a couple items the Chronicle had to have before anyone else:

Jamie Lauren, who was formerly the executive chef at Levende Lounge and the executive chef of the now-abandoned Prana project, has been hired as the executive chef at ~ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR~. She is currently coming in a couple days a week while wrapping up her work at Bar Crudo (her last day is June 9); she will be in Absinthe’s kitchen full-time starting June 21. Lauren is excited about all the possibilities—she is eager to integrate a local and seasonal focus on the menu, and perhaps add some more Italian and Mediterranean touches. Some “raw ideas” at the moment include adding a daily crudo, shellfish platters, and an all-day menu. Congratulations, Jamie. 398 Hayes St. at Gough, 415-551-1590.

I wrote about this project that was taking over the old Jester’s space last June, perhaps you remember? Well, it’s about to open. Just adjacent to The Westin San Francisco Market Street (formerly the Argent Hotel) in early June will be ~DUCCA~, a restaurant after my own heart since it’s inspired by Venice, Italy (I lived in Venexia for a year while I was going to school). The name is a spin on the word for doge, duca. The executive chef is Italian-born Marta Cristina Causone (no, not Nick Stellino like some people were led to believe), who is crafting a menu that will highlight seasonal Northern Italian-inspired cuisine with a focus on the sea. There will also be a menu of cicchetti, or rustic bar snacks, which is a huge part of Venetian culture, with a Cal-Ital wine list. The Puccini Group designed the space; you can check out some renderings here. I especially love the silk-screened images of the Duke and Duchess, the three smoke and black Murano glass chandeliers, and the curved marble bar in the lounge made of yellow sienna Italian marble. There is an alfresco terrace that by night will become a lounge, with communal tables and a fire pit that is actually a 68-inch metal fire bowl. Ducca will be open for lunch daily 11:30am–2pm, and dinner is Sun–Thu 5:30pm–10pm and Fri–Sat 5:30pm–11pm. The bar and lounge will stay open until 1am. 50 Third St. at Market, adjacent to The Westin San Francisco Market Street, 415-977-0271.

Some cool menu news at places around town:

Starting Sunday May 27, ~THE FRONT PORCH~ is going to be open on the first Sundays of every month through September, hosting an all-you-can-eat Caribbean barbecue. The barbecue will go on from noon until sundown, with BBQ jerk steak, chicken, fish, and fresh veggie sides on offer. The price for a “roundtrip ticket” to the West Indies (i.e. all you can eat) is $25, and the price of a one-way ticket (i.e. one plate) is $17.50. There will also be a kid's plate price, and special prices on draft beer and select wine. No reservations necessary, and all the tables will be put together for family-style dining. I got this from the restaurant: “The barbeque itself was invented by the Carib Indians, legend says, when they soaked planks of wood in seawater and cooked meat over a fire much like we use grills. Here's a cool link.” 65A 29th St., at Mission, 415-695-7800.

Beef lovers take note: ~MASA’S~ executive chef, Gregory Short, is serving premium Wagyu Kobe for a limited time at the restaurant. He is grilling a very specific part of the beef, the calotte (ribeye cap) and serving it with daikon radish sprouts, maitake mushrooms, and a bordelaise vinaigrette. I had an opportunity to taste real Japanese Kobe beef a while back down in Cupertino at Alexander’s Steakhouse at a special Kobe beef-tasting event (I know, my job really sucks), and I have never tasted anything like it—it was beyond luxurious, almost like meat custard. I know, that doesn’t sound so pretty, but that’s exactly how it felt—you could seriously eat it with a spoon. Masa's Restaurant, 648 Bush St. at Powell, 415-989-7154.

Related Archives

« May 15, 2007 | May 29, 2007 »