November 6, 2007

November 6, 2007

Town Hall and Salt House’s talented trio of Rosenthal x 2 and Washington (wow, they’d make a great law firm!) are at it again: come spring, look for an oyster bar and fish shack called ~ANCHOR AND HOPE~ opening in SOMA. The space was previously void, so it’s sure to be a cool build-out. More details as the concept gets fine-tuned—I’ve heard some word of an interesting art program, which will fit right in with the arty neighbors (111 Minna and Varnish). 83 Minna St. at Second.

Talk about bait and switch. A few weeks back I heard the ~SUSHI GROOVE~ location that was slated to open in Mint Plaza was hitting some delays, but in a swift and very unexpected change of plans, Jocelyn Bulow is now opening a restaurant in what was to be Sushi Groove’s space. Suffice to say, there is some sh*t going down, including some legal ruckus—I’ll let you know what the official statement says.

Over in Noe Valley, moving into the former Cybelle’s Pizza space will be ~BASSO’S~, just next door to Noe’s Bar. In an interesting twist, one of the owners ran a restaurant there for nine years, sold the space to Cybelle’s (which later closed), and since his brother owns the building, they decided to reopen a restaurant again. It’s a family project, with two brothers, Wayne and Gaetano Basso, and Wayne’s two sons. They have been renovating the restaurant space over the past six months, and it’s slated to have a soft opening next Wednesday the 14th, and opening that Thursday or Friday. In another funny twist, three of the original members of the kitchen staff are returning, including Antonio the chef, who was recently at Caffè Museo.

There are 37 seats, with six at the counter overlooking the open kitchen. They decided to keep the massive pizza oven, so look for some Neapolitan-style thin-crust pizzas made with quality ingredients, plus an approachable menu of steaks, pastas (including homemade ravioli), salads, daily house-made soups (including a vegan soup), market-driven sides, and fresh-made desserts. All the ingredients will be organic and the meats will come from Niman Ranch, including porterhouses, New York steaks, filet, and skirt steak, plus lamb chops and pork chops. The seafood will be eco-friendly, so no swordfish here. Daily specials will include liver and onions on Mondays, osso buco and risotto on Thursdays, and cioppino on Fridays. There is a wine list with reasonable pricing, plus quality beers, or you can grab a cocktail next door—Noe’s has reportedly hired a really skilled bartender who has added some quality cocktails made with fresh ingredients to the list. The bar will become an easy spot to watch the game on Sundays and have a bite to eat, and will probably handle some restaurant overflow. Basso’s will be open for lunch and dinner, and look for breakfast and lunch starting a few weeks after opening. Check out the late hours too: open until 11pm on Sunday, midnight Mon–Thu, and 1am on Fri–Sat. 3782 24th St. at Church, 415-285-3212.

~SEBO~
fans, now you can enjoy dinner there on Sundays too! Michael and Danny will be serving traditional izakaya "ippinryori" dishes (no sushi!), with dishes rotating in and out each Sunday, depending on what is fresh and in season. During these fall and winter months, look for authentic dishes like simmered daikon rounds; grilled, simmered, or stewed fish; simmered pork belly (Japanese and eventually Okinawan style); sautéed or grilled vegetables; sake-simmered chicken wings and daikon; Okinawan-style spareribs; yaki-onigiri; small rice dishes; and salads. You’ll be able to share these small plates with friends while drinking some fab sakes—that will keep you toasty! Sunday hours to start: 6pm–11pm.

Another exciting change at Sebo: Fukashi Adachi from Deep Sushi is going to be their third chef—he will be a big part of the Sunday dinners, as well as doing sushi during the week. Michael and Danny are excited to have another talented and detail-oriented obsessive-compulsive chef on board. Kanpai to that. 517 Hayes St. at Octavia, 415-864-2122.

Things are getting close on Joie de Vivre’s ~O IZAKAYA LOUNGE~ at the Hotel Kabuki. The official opening is November 16, but look for a soft opening with abbreviated hours by the end of this week—it all depends on how the final inspections go. I attended a media lunch a few weeks ago, and liked chef Nick Balla’s unique dishes featuring house-made touches, like kimchee, and pickled fennel (served with hamachi and enoki mushrooms). Most of the shared plates are $9–$14, combining ingredients like saba (mackerel) with wasabi, beet, and cucumber, and duck breast with eggplant and red miso. The bar menu will include some yakimono, like hamachi belly (the new pork belly?), lamb sweetbreads, beef loin, and chicken thigh ($4 each). Lunch 11am–3pm Sat–Sun, dinner nightly 5pm–10pm, and bar until 1am. Hotel Kabuki, 1625 Post St. at Laguna, 415-614-5431.

In other JDV news, ~JENNIFER COX~ is heading up the new Director of Culinary role for the company. Her background includes some Chicago-area fine dining restaurants, she was a sous chef for the late Barbara Tropp at China Moon Café and at the Warwick Regis Hotel’s La Scene restaurant, she was the opening chef at Montage Restaurant in the Sony Metreon, chef de cuisine of Citizen Cake, and then Corporate Executive Chef–Culinary Development with the Compass Group, a UK-based foodservice management company. She will assist JDV in creating their new restaurant concepts, develop back-of-house training programs, and mentor their culinary talent.

~MONK’S KETTLE~, the new beer and wine tavern opening in the old Kelly’s Burger space in the Mission has hired a chef, Kevin Kroger. He worked as a sous chef at Left Bank Brasserie in Larkspur and B Restaurant in Oakland. He's also been involved with Restaurants Unlimited for the last ten years, and has served as a consultant, most recently with First Crush. The pub-style menu will have burgers, sandwiches, salads, and shareable items, like cheese and salumi. To recap, look for 100 bottled beers from around the world, and 24 draughts (mostly California brews), with a heavy focus on education about beer styles and brewing techniques. There will also be wine available, eight by the glass. For now, the opening date looks like November 19th. 3141 16th St., at the corner of Albion, between Valencia and Guerrero.

More Mission news: a friend in the ‘hood told me there was some activity going on at ~SENSES~. Huh whaaa? Yes, Senses, the restaurant that just can’t stay closed. Both faceless shills and haters are alive and well on some recent Yelp postings. Try the calamari! LOL. 1152 Valencia St. at 22nd.

The Shadow Lounge, which could have been called the cracker lounge (sca-ry), has new owners and is being transformed into ~MEDICI LOUNGE~, a much more auspicious name, methinks. Greg Noto is the owner (he also owns Place Pigalle and used to own Abbondanza Catering), Matty DeTrumble is the executive chef (he is a teacher at the CCA and was also the chef at Geranium, and most recently at the short-lived Crave on Market), and Kevin Meagher is the bar manager/mixologist who is putting together a premium cocktail program based on fresh ingredients. They are hoping for an opening in January—for now they are renovating the structure and interior, so we’ll just have to wait and see. Look for a Cal-Ital market-driven menu of shared plates (I know, it’s not the first time you’ve seen this, but give ‘em a chance!) made with handpicked ingredients, organic wherever possible. Other features might include a late-night kitchen and special wine and spirits events. Just consider this a teaser for now! 299 Ninth St. at Folsom.

Happy Birthday to ~MAGNOLIA PUB & BREWERY~, celebrating ten years of business with a week of special anniversary menus that will feature beer pairings, naturally, including the remainder of Batch 1000, AKA Ain’t Life Grand. Tonight is English gastropub night, with a three-course dinner that includes Niman Ranch beef and kidney pie or monkfish tail; Wednesday is Belgian bistro night, Thursday is fried chicken, and Friday–Sunday is a special five-course tasting menu of seasonal and sustainably sourced, beer-friendly, gastropub cuisine (hello rabbit fricassee). Cheers! 1398 Haight St. at Masonic, 415-864-PINT.

Driving through the Castro this week, I noticed the former Metro Café found a name: ~THE LOOKOUT~. Its new owner is Chris Hastings, formerly of Catch, just up the street. A pal told me he didn’t see many changes to the interior, but according to an article I read in the BAR, the adjoining restaurant space is slated to house a pizzeria—more on this soon. 3600 16th St. at Market, 415-703-9750.

Since we’re tawkin’ bars with food, this weekend I went to the neighborhood-y/divey Jack’s Club, which is now the home of the new ~TASTY AT JACKS~. Look for Southern-inspired food coming out of the tiny kitchen in the back, like pulled pork sandwiches, burgers, and same damned good fries with Old Bay seasoning. The chef is Grant Edwards, who hails from Richmond, Virginia, and got his culinary training in South Carolina. 2545 24th St. at San Bruno Ave., 415-641-5371.

I’ve had some folks ask me about places to go for ~THANKSGIVING~ around the city, so I thought I’d do a little roundup of places I’d consider going to if A) I didn’t have an oven and/or B) didn’t have a lovely grandma and mom who always make the best Thanksgiving dinner—bring on the giblet gravy!

~Americano at the Hotel Vitale is doing a dinner
~Balboa Café would be cozy
~Garibaldi’s on Presidio (here’s a PDF of the menu) is hosting dinner
~Harris’ would be a fun, classic spot—love those booths
~Home if I was light in the wallet ($37 for a three-course dinner)
~One Market will be using top-notch ingredients
~Roots is serving an organic dinner with heritage turkey
~Terrace at the Ritz-Carlton—you know this will be fab

Since we’re talking about the holiday season, I wanted to forward this call for donations from ~FOOD RUNNERS~, who are asking San Francisco restaurants and businesses to donate excess perishable and prepared food to agencies feeding the needy; they are also seeking volunteers to assist with the distribution of the food. Here’s more: “Food Runners delivers approximately 10 tons of food a week that would otherwise be thrown away–providing enough food for 2,000 meals a day in San Francisco. The recipients range from senior centers and homeless shelters to halfway houses and others in need.

Food Runners regularly picks up food from the Marriott Hotel, the Westin San Francisco Market Street Hotel, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Harvest Urban Markets. A number of San Francisco restaurants, including Piperade, Fog City Diner, Frisson, Kokkari, Aqua, Rubicon, Jardinière, Rose Pistola, PlumpJack and many more generously contribute “Planned Overage,” preparing a main course once a week which is taken directly to a neighborhood home by a Food Runners volunteer. Volunteers generally give one hour a week, or at their convenience, to pick up and deliver food in their own vehicle.” For more information, please give them a call at 415-929-1866 or visit www.foodrunners.org .