November 27, 2007

November 27, 2007

After almost a year of closure from a fire sparked by a faulty electric car, the ~WARMING HUT~ at Crissy Field will be reopening on December 3! Walkers and picnickers rejoice. They will continue serving food made with local and organic ingredients (“local and luscious,” as they like to call it), and keeping their emphasis on sustainability and packing up everything with recyclable items. The menu got freshened up, and ditto on the kitchen equipment (but they fortunately retained their chef, Matt Wolf). Did you know that all the profits from the café and bookstore go to the Crissy Field Center, which is designed to support environmental use leadership? Cool. Open 9am–5pm daily. Building 983, at the West Bluff Picnic Area, 415-561-3040.

More news on a reopening after a fire: ~BENDER’S~ in the Mission is open again. And there is a mighty cool project inside the full kitchen: Weird Fish has launched ~SATELLITE~ as of last Friday. Look for some Weird Fish favorites, like fish and chips and tacos, along with the buffalo cat wings (deep-fried and spicy catfish) or buffalo girls (seitan)—both come with blue cheese and celery, like they should. There are also cheese steaks, burgers, and all kinds of fries, onion rings, and yes, the fried pickles. Vittles will be served Wed–Sat, starting around 6pm–7pm, and going to 1am, if not later, which should keep you at least upright at the bar. The space is supposed to look amazing, with new lighting and a raised ceiling. There’s a sleek new bar; the multi-levels are gone—it’s now one convenient floor—and Yelpers seem to be pleased with all the room around the pool tables. The backyard will be coming back later, but the smoking room is still in effect. Cash only, babies. 806 S Van Ness Ave. at 19th St., 415-824-1800.

John Ruggieri, the former chef de cuisine at ~EMPORIO RULLI GRAN CAFFÈ~ on Chestnut Street is the new chef at Kitchen at 868 Grant in Novato. No word yet about his replacement.

I was bummed to read on Chowhound that ~FLYING PAN BISTRO~, the offshoot of ~JAI YUN~, has closed. I had an awesome catfish noodle soup there just a month ago for lunch and was craving more. Dang. In a weird twist, the reservations-only Jai Yun is reportedly leaving their tiny space on Pacific Avenue, and is moving into this slightly larger and more modern space instead. No lunch service (for now), but I know fellow noodle lovers can dream, and hint, and request. 680 Clay St. at Kearny, 415-981-7438.

Some switcheroos in wino world: since ~JEFF ANDERSON~ left Ame in mid-September to work with Jason Alexander at Gary Danko, Ame’s sommelier/wine director position has now been filled by ~AARON ELLIOTT~, who was most recently at Aqua, and prior to that, TRU in Chicago and The Peninsula Chicago. Taking over for Elliott at Aqua is ~KEN WAGSTAFF~, a senior dinner server who I am told rocks the house.

Meanwhile, ~STEVE IZZO~, who was at One Market, is reportedly moving over to Kuleto’s WaterBar as the sommelier and buyer. Taking his place overseeing One Market’s all-American wine program of more than 400 labels is 29-year-old ~MELANIE ALIOTO~, who just started yesterday—she was formerly the GM and wine buyer of the Wine Bar & Shop at Embarcadero Two Center. Alioto’s grandfather (Joe Alioto) was a cousin to the other Joe Alioto, who was the former mayor of San Francisco.

And, in the final move, taking Alioto’s place is ~BRAD GUSTAVSON~ from Santa Barbara and local ~MICHAEL OYEN~, who are the new owners and buyers for the Wine Bar as of three weeks ago. I spoke with Gustavson, who said to look for more West Coast wines on the list, and new furniture will be coming in at some point that looks more “wine bar and less like Starbucks.” Cheers to that.

You follow all that? Time for a glass of wine. Take your pick where.

There are lots of openings to report!

It’s soooo totally soup season, and I’m excited that ~POT DE PHO~ is less than a week from opening (the soft opening is next Monday, December 3rd)! The project is from chef Khai Duong of Ana Mandara, who has transformed the former Spanish Fly space into a total pho headquarters, with room for 60. It will offer the magic combo of organic (whenever possible) produce, meats, poultry, and seafood, and affordable, traditional Vietnamese dishes, with entrées averaging $9–$10, topping out at $15. The pho will feature house-made noodles in rich broths made from Kobe beef and free-range chicken bones. There are six variations, with some featuring organic chicken or seafood imported from Vietnam, and natural grass-fed Black Angus beef. The house-made noodles will be made in the traditional Vietnamese manner, with bean sprouts in the noodles. Dishes will be served with traditional sides, like cilantro, scallions, basil, lime, pickled onion, and hoisin and chile sauces. The pho soups will start at $6; there will be a small and large size available.

There are other dishes like pork and shrimp imperial rolls; soft shell crab rolls in cold rice paper with avocado; braised organic pork belly with pickled bean sprouts; and rice chicken Hainam, a Chinese dish that is popular in Vietnam. The beer and wine license should be in effect any day now, but they might not have it in time for the opening next week, so you may be choosing from their selection of organic fruit drinks, smoothies, and coffees and teas in the meantime. Hours will be 11am–10pm, and until 11pm Fri–Sat, closed Mon. 3300 Geary Blvd. at Parker, 415-668-0826.

This evening, the third location of ~O'NEILL'S~ will be opening in Ghirardelli Square. Now you know where to get your Irish breakfast (which you can even have al fresco) and a proper Guinness. Yes, at the same time. 900 North Point St.—H 104 (near Beach Street), 415-771-8560.

Remember the Thai place I mentioned that was moving into the Fogon space in North Beach? Wow, these folks work quickly. Open as of last night is ~TUK TUK THAI CAFÉ~, whose owners are also behind Tuk Tuk Thai Café and Asian Market in Berkeley. Hours are 11am–1am nightly, convenient for when you want to Thai one on, har. 659 Union St. at Stockton, 415-445-7839.

A little reminder that tonight is the opening of ~BAR JULES~ in Hayes Valley, Tue–Sat for dinner, and Sun for brunch. 609 Hayes St. at Laguna, 415-621-5482.

Looking forward to attending a test dinner this week at ~LOCAL KITCHEN AND WINE MERCHANT~, the Cal-Italian restaurant from executive chef and partner Ola Fendert, with Mark Bright overseeing the wine bar and retail wine shop. The opening is slated for next Wednesday, December 5. While the kitchen will be highlighting local and organic ingredients on the rustic menu (hand-made pizza from the massive wood-fired oven, or whole-roasted fish, anyone?), the wine program will be more global, with a lot of organic choices, and few surprises from some lesser-known regions, like India and China. The retail wine shop will also sell some gourmet food items from local artisans. Open Mon–Fri for breakfast, lunch and dinner; Sat–Sun for brunch and dinner. More on Local after I check it out! 330 First St. at Folsom, 415-777-3200.

At press time, the word is that ~YOSHI’S~ is slated to be opening the jazz club this Wednesday, and the restaurant is opening on Saturday. 1330 Fillmore St. at Eddy.

If everything maps out according to plan, I might be returning to New York in January for another week of tablehopping, and I fully plan to visit ~ABRAÇO~, Jamie McCormick’s (of Blue Bottle barista fame) awesome new venture that I mentioned a couple months back. I was so stoked to see this great write-up he just got in New York Magazine, and can’t wait to try some of the pastry from Ms. Elizabeth Quijada from Babycakes and Suspicious Suppers! Go Jamie go! 86 E. 7th St. at First Ave., New York, 212-388-9731.

On the local coffee front, things are getting close for ~COFFEE BAR~, the venture from Jason Paul and Luigi DiRuocco that is moving into the former Arc Café space. As of now they are targeting December 1—will let you know next week what’s up, and if that happened! 1890 Bryant St. at Mariposa.

I loved this generous holiday coat drive that ~JOVINO~ in Cow Hollow is putting on: ~COATS FOR CAPPUCCINOS/JACKETS FOR JAVA~ (not to be confused with a Java Jacket). Now through December 31, Jovino will be collecting clean, reusable coats and jackets to assist the One Warm Coat community service effort. Coats of all shapes and sizes are welcome, and children’s sizes are the most needed. One Warm Coat is dedicated to distributing reusable coats, free of charge, directly to local children and adults. The program is a great way for you and your family to pass along coats and jackets that you no longer need. Just bring your clean, reusable coats to Jovino anytime between 7:30am–9:30pm, and Jovino will take care of the rest. All donated coats will be given to One Warm Coat for distribution to the community.

Anyone who provides a coat or jacket will receive a gift card, good for FIVE FREE coffee drinks. (One per customer, please.) Not a black coffee drinker? How about a latte or cappuccino, or a nice cup of tea? Whatever your drink is, they will provide it for FREE, just for donating to this wonderful cause. 2184 Union St. at Fillmore, 415-563-1853.

You didn’t think I’d let a week go without a boozy event, did you? Heck, here are two. First, ~CANTINA~ is hosting a book release party for Wings of Cherubs by Guillermo Toro-Lira, which documents the history and secrets of San Francisco’s pisco punch! Did you know pisco was the drink of choice in San Francisco at the end of the 1800s and beginning of the 1900s? You’ll learn this, and more, so come on down for some free pisco punch, complimentary apps, and a Q&A with the author on Monday, December 3, at 7pm. Personally signed copies will be available for purchase at $19.95 plus tax. 580 Sutter St. at Mason, 415-398-0195.

Then over at ~SEASONS STEAK & SEAFOOD~, there’s an Opus One Winery dinner next Tuesday, December 4th: a five-course dinner paired with a special selection of various Opus One vintages, for $150 including tax and gratuity. Reception at 6:30pm, dinner at 7pm. 757 Market St. at Grant, 415-633-3838.

A reader passed this interesting site on to me: ~FOODIEBYTES.COM~. Just type your favorite food into the search box and you’ll get a list of restaurants that serve that dish. I was surprised with how many results I got from oxtails! Pregnant and have a craving for salade Lyonnaise? This is all about you.