May 29, 2007

May 29, 2007

Whew, at last, the ~PURSE SNATCHING DRAMA~ has ended: the police have stopped what was actually a nasty purse-snatching ring. The Examiner has the entire story here. It all went down when the alleged suspect decided to pay a return visit to the St. Regis, and a member of the staff recognized her and notified hotel security. The alleged suspect got nervous and ended up leaving the hotel and jumping into a car, but a St. Regis security guard trailed her and noted the plate and make of the vehicle. The sister of the suspect was later detained in a routine traffic stop in the same vehicle, and arrested by Alameda Sheriff Deputies. Inspector D. Fabbri of SFPD was a big part of getting this ring closed down. I know a lot of people in the City are really glad this whole thing is over, but remember, you can never be too careful with your purse or bag.

So, here’s some good downtown news: Franck Leclerc, the owner of Café Claude, will soon be the unofficial patron of Claude Lane since he is also taking over the Blupointe space, just across the alley. He is naming it ~GITANE~, French for female gypsy. The vibe of the space will be eclectic and feature some fun and funky European flair from the ’50s–’60s—Charles Doell AKA Mr. Important, formerly of FUN! Display, is designing the space. Well, I should say redesigning since he originally did the Blupointe space. Anyway. There will be 30 seats outside on the heated terrace, with room for 30 inside on the mezzanine, and another 15 at the bar. Gitane has a full liquor license, so Leclerc is happy to be creating a late-night destination for the neighborhood. There will also be a fireplace, a wood pizza oven, and sexy flamenco music.

Behind the stoves will be Lisa Eyherabide (27), who has Basque roots that will surely be felt on the menu, mingling with some southern French and Portuguese influences. She has worked at Le Charm and Piperade, as well as at the Côte d'Or in France under the late Bernard Loiseau—yes, the chef who tragically committed suicide in 2003 after the Gault-Millau guide downgraded his restaurant rating two points (from 19 to 17) and he believed rumors that Michelin was about to remove one of his three stars. (I remember spotting “Frogs Legs Bernard Loiseau” on the menu at La Folie a couple years ago). Escrow closes by the end of June, and so will Blupointe—Gitane will hopefully be open by the end of August. 6 Claude Lane at Bush.

Alvin Luna, the executive chef of ~TABLESPOON~, is leaving the restaurant in a couple weeks to work at Palmetto as chef de cuisine with Andy Kitko. The two of them are good friends who worked together while at Gary Danko, and have wanted an opportunity to work together again for a while. Last I heard, Home’s closure and transformation into Palmetto begins after the Union Street Fair this coming weekend. 2032 Union St. at Buchanan, 415-931-5006.

So the individual slated to be the executive chef for ~DUCCA~, Marta Cristina Causone, has been replaced with Richard Corbo, the current chef de cuisine of Mecca—his last day at Mecca will be June 2. Corbo is thrilled with the position, calling it a dream job—he studied at a culinary school in Florence, and staged and traveled a lot in Italy. From what I heard, Causone has a baby, and unfortunately having enough hours in the day to concurrently open a restaurant and be mamma weren’t going to jive. Ducca will open for breakfast and lunch initially, and is slated to start a limited number of dinner reservations on June 17. 50 Third St. at Market, adjacent to The Westin San Francisco Market Street, 415-977-0271.

Due to open this Wednesday on Upper Polk is ~CAFÉ LAMBRETTA~ a new deli-café-magazine stand moving into a former grocery/deli space. On the deli side of things, expect some fab rustic-style panini made with local/sustainable/organic produce and cured Italian meats, like hot coppa, marinated artichokes, caciottona capra (a mild semi-hard goat cheese), and radicchio; or prosciutto di Parma, Mission fig, arugula, pear, and pecorino on bread from Bay Bread (they plan to bake bread in-house later on). There will also be some small bites, like Gioia mozzarella di bufala with sea salt, olive oil, and crostini, plus salads, like one made of butter beans, arugula, shaved prosciutto, and pecorino. Now, for the café portion: you lucky ducks in the neighborhood will be getting Blue Bottle coffee, made from baristas trained in the Blue Bottle method (i.e. the right way). Ristrettos, baby! As for the mags, expect up to 70 titles of lifestyle magazines, like design, food, and motor sports.

I spoke with owner John Quintos, who has over 15 years of restaurant experience (he was formerly a GM at Caprice in Tiburon, Flying Saucer, and additionally worked at Fog City Diner, Gordon’s House of Fine Eats, and Blowfish), and he said Café Lambretta is all about the things he loves: coffee, food, and Lambrettas! In fact, he still has his first Lambretta from when he was 16, and even ran Brevetto Italia, a Lambretta shop on Van Ness in the early nineties. Coming soon will be some cool Lambretta art on the walls, and there are some fixtures that incorporate some Lambretta parts; there are even a couple Lambrettas inside. The café has 15 seats plus six outside, with a lot of food designed to go. Hours will be Tue–Fri 7am–6pm, and Sat–Sun 8:30am–3:30pm. 1806 Polk St. at Washington, 415-673-0772.

I also got (last-minute) word of a groovy Belgian café opening this Wednesday called ~A BON PORT~ in the cursed café space on Castro. (A friend calls it the “Revolving Door Café.”) The young Belgian owner is reportedly going to be offering Belgian desserts you can’t find anywhere else in the city. Definitely sounds like one to check out. Opening party is this Wednesday, 6pm-10pm. 476 Castro St. at Market, 415-558-0893.

Some folks have been asking me what’s up with ~PICKLES~, the new incarnation of Clown Alley on Columbus. Tom Duffy of Myth has bought the place, but for now, the menu hasn’t been launched, so no frozen custard (yet). Once things are taking shape over there I’ll let you know—for now there is just a temporary sign, and that’s about it. 42 Columbus Ave. at Montgomery.

Some other openings to report:

I was walking up Divisadero this weekend and was happy to see ~MOJO BICYCLE CAFÉ~ has opened its doors. They will be getting more food items in the coming weeks, but for now you can definitely get your bike fixed (or shop for a new one) over a bagel or some java or suds. 639-A Divisadero St. at Grove, 415-440-2338.

Famed local landmark ~JULIUS’ CASTLE~ opened last week, high up on Telegraph Hill above North Beach. The French-Italian menu is from executive chef Michael Hammonds, and features a bunch of old-school classics for dinner nightly 5pm-9:30pm, plus weekend brunch 10am-3pm. I took a look at the menu, and it’s definitely a throwback, with clams casino, escargot, three different veal dishes (but a sign of modern times: it’s free range), and filet mignon. Brunch items include seafood omelette Newburg, a Monte Cristo sandwich, crab Louis, and crepes Suzette. The newly renovated restaurant, an official San Francisco Historical Landmark, has been around since 1922, when Julius Roz, an Italian immigrant, dreamed of and built his “castle on the hill.” 1541 Montgomery St. at Union, 415-392-2222.

The second ~MIXT GREENS~ location is opening Monday, June 4, at 475 Sansome St. at Commercial (between Sacramento and Clay), 415-433-6498.

I thought this was rather cool: Todd Smith of ~BOURBON AND BRANCH~ has started a blog. It’s a little hard to read at the moment, but I’m sure that will get sorted. Maybe he was drinking while he wrote it. Anyway, he mentions a new drink, the “Bourbon Peach Smash,” with peach-infused bourbon, fresh peaches and mint, which is hello, downright custom-made for me. (See you there.) B&B is also open on Mondays now, too. AND it seems they have a “Beverage Academy” starting up. Once I hear back from Todd what that entails I’ll share the deets.

~LUELLA~ has launched a three-course prix-fixe menu that is available Mon-Thu, and includes a choice of asparagus soup with lemon oil or a goat cheese and beet salad; mushroom risotto or grilled bavette steak au poivre with French fries; and chocolate pudding with mascarpone cream or an ice cream sundae for dessert; it’s only $33, and $50 with wine pairings. 1896 Hyde St. at Green, 415-674-4343.

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