August 14, 2007

August 14, 2007

More news on restaurant openings in Mint Plaza! It’s looking like Chez Papa will have some new groovy neighbors: ~SUSHI GROOVE~. Well, Sushi Groove Midtown, to be exact. This will be the fourth Sushi Groove location—there is the original location on Hyde Street, plus Sushi Groove South in SoMa, and a location in Walnut Creek. This latest location is moving into the former El Balazo space, and is slated to open in mid-October with 60 seats and a downstairs lounge. Guests will also be able to dine and drink on the big plaza outside, where they will have a full outdoor bar, and fortunately some heat lamps, too. Fridays will bring a special happy hour on the plaza, and since this is a Martel and Nabiel project (Martel Toler and Nabiel Musleh—a third partner is Kevin O’Connor, who just opened Bossa Nova, and is involved in Harlot lounge as well), expect some DJs to grace the indoor lounge’s DJ booth, spinning until the bar closes at 2am. Lunch and dinner will be served seven days a week. 54 Mint St. at Fifth.

So, how’s this for a segue? Some folks also know Martel and Nabiel for their involvement in Oola, the late-night SoMa restaurant they opened with Ola Fendert. Well, many of us have been wondering about the new project Ola has been working on with Mark Bright, formerly a sommelier at Michael Mina. Come late September, ~LOCAL KITCHEN AND WINE MERCHANT~, a multi-faceted project, will be opening in SoMa. There will be a restaurant offering simple Cal-Ital cuisine, with an easygoing neighborhood vibe during the day, and morphing into more of a dining/wine lounge vibe at night. There will also be a retail component to the project, selling what are sure to be some class-act vinos. Carl Grubbs, currently a sommelier at Quince, will have some shifts at Local, and will probably be playing some of his groovy beats. Another player in this new project is John Strickland, who partnered with Martel and Nabiel on Sushi Groove South, and will doing the design. Look for wine tastings, seminars, winemaker events, and according to a post on the Food & Wine “Mouthing Off” blog, there will be also be wine tastings for yogis after working out at Cocoon Urban Day Spa which is opening soon, just upstairs from Local. Nebbiolo and namaste? 330 First St. at Folsom.

Okay, it’s now time for another installment of my favorite new game: “My ‘Hood is Cooler Than Yours!” NOPA residents, something fishy is moving into the 94417: ~BAR CRUDO~ is opening a second location, hopefully by the first of the year.Color me excited. The restaurant will be opening in the short-lived Amina Pizzeria space, just across the street from the Independent. The 60-seat space will have a mezzanine and long bar where you can savor some foamy goodness off what is sure to be a long list of ales. (The Selvera brothers have a knack for Belgians. Beers, that is.) Since the kitchen is bigger than their slip of a space on Bush Street, look for an expanded and different menu. I’ll release more details, like the name, hours, and menu items as things develop. 655 Divisadero St. at Grove.

The Peruvian restaurant trend continues! ~LA MAR SAN FRANCISCO~, an import from Peru, will be opening on the water in the newly rehabbed Pier 1 ½ space (you can read more about the development here). The chef has not been decided, but Gaston Acurio, a well-known chef in Peru, is the man behind the project. (You can read a translated interview with him here.) La Mar will offer the cutting edge of Peruvian cuisine, and is to be styled after the classic Peruvian cebicherías. The menu will be chock-full of fresh seafood prepared with the Andean, Asian, and Spanish influences that are typically found in Peruvian cuisine. Some menu highlights include many different preparations of cebiche, raw fish or other seafood prepared with “leche de tigre,” a lemon-based juice that “cooks” the fish. There will also be causas, Peruvian yellow potatoes topped with fresh fish or seafood (some raw, some cooked). Oh, there will be outdoor seating too (try 3,000 square feet!). I’ve been in the 8,000-square-foot space for a CUESA event, and the view of the Bay is downright gorg. This historic location was formerly the passenger waiting room for the Delta King and Delta Queen that ferried between San Francisco and Sacramento in the 1920s. La Mar is scheduled to open in the spring of 2008, and there are two or three new restaurants and cafés slated to open in The Piers project as well (Piers 3 and 5 are also included in the development). There will be more details down the road, but this is about all there is to know for now. La Mar restaurants are also located in Lima and Mexico City, and will soon open in Costa Rica; Santiago, Chile; and São Paulo, Brazil.

After beaucoup design delays, ~ROE~ is reopening to the public on Monday, August 20. The original chef, Thai Tran, has left the project, and Alvin San is taking her place. San was actually Roe’s chef from June 2006–March 2007, and left the restaurant in March to complete a three-month stage at El Bulli in Spain. San’s menu will offer California cuisine with global influences. Roe will also be kicking off a dinner series called "Good Fridays at Roe.” Each Friday, the restaurant will host a special three-course dinner, starting at 8pm and priced at $50 (not including drinks and gratuity). Once dinner wraps up, a guest DJ will spin until the lounge opens to the public at 10pm. (Bottle service? Uh, yeah.) 651 Howard St. at 3rd, 415-227-0288.

Some folks have been wondering about when the new location of ~SULTAN~ is opening (I’ve been wondering as well—I am so ready for some chicken charga!). According to one of the owners, we’re looking at another three weeks out… sit tight! 340 O'Farrell St. between Mason and Taylor.

Just to remind you, ~JARDINIÈRE~ closes for renovations this coming Sunday, August 19, and will reopen to the public on Thursday September 13.

Update on ~BIG 4~: breakfast and dinner are back, and lunch will resume service on August 20. Thank goodness the bar never closed! (Some of you may know that I’m a fan). 1075 California St. at Taylor, 415-771-1140.

In an interesting switcheroo, it looks like the ~HELMAND~ will not be reopening in its current North Beach home. To recap, it closed in the landslide, and due to some insurance mucky muck and having to finance the repairs themselves, Helmand will instead be moving into Yaya Cuisine’s space on Van Ness in Russian Hill. Yaya plans to close in mid-September or so, and the owner, Yahya Salih, is currently looking for a new space. I’ll let you know when Yaya has found a new address, and as soon as a reopening date is set for Helmand. 2424 Van Ness Ave. at Green.

Froyo madness continues: ~HONEYDOO~ will be opening its flagship shop in North Beach, serving pure yogurt (read: organic) with no flavors  besides plain. (Sorry, green tea or chocolate fans.) There will be some topping choices, however, like fruits, grains, or M&Ms for the kiddies. Some folks had a taste at the North Beach fair, and reportedly loved the tangy “yogurty” flavor. The space is in the former Pixie dress shop—look for an opening in either in September or October. Hours will be Mon–Sat 10am–10pm and Sun 10am–8pm. 1400 Grant St. at Green.

And now a nibble for you vegetarian readers: some of the haute restaurants around town offer vegetarian tasting menus (like La Folie’s Menu Jardinière) and now ~MASA’S~ is offering a dedicated six-course vegetarian tasting menu, with dishes like Yukon Gold potato blini with Italian eggplant “caviar,” lemon-infused extra virgin olive oil, and baby greens; and a  “tian” of roasted sweet white turnips with toasted couscous and Moroccan argan oil ($90). 648 Bush St. at Stockton, 415-989-7154.

Many of you know I only post SF events and news (unless it’s a jetsetter piece), but I did want to forward this link to a petition to save the ~SWEETWATER SALOON~ in Mill Valley, because it may be closing. I know it’s near and dear to many folks in the Bay Area, so I wanted to be sure you knew what was going on.