December 4, 2007

December 4, 2007

Friday the tablehopper was on the town for twelve hours (I crawled home at 5am); I painted it vermilion. I started with some celebratory bubbles at ~CORKAGE~, the new sake and retail wine and tasting shop from the Dajani Group—it’s where the magazine stand used to be, in between Tsunami Sushi and the renovated Café Abir. There is a petite bar where you can stand and taste, and the engaging JoJo from Tsunami will probably be the one doing the pouring. The shop is getting more bottles in the coming weeks, but I’m already impressed with the massive array of sakes. And I’m happy to have so many international wines only a block from my apartment. Cheers. 1304 Fulton St. at Divisadero.

Next, my cohort and I headed on over to the Sunset to check out the second SF location of ~PACIFIC CATCH~ in the former Canvas Gallery space. Tried some tasty poke, ceviche, and fried calamari with a kicky dipping sauce that meant business—washed it all down with an expertly made Pisco Sour. The big windows and vaulted ceiling make for a spacious feeling, and you can tell this place is going to do well in the neighborhood, especially with the fab cocktails and the later hours (restaurant open Sun–Thu 11am–10pm, bar until midnight with bar food service until 11:30pm; Fri–Sat 11am–11pm, bar until 1am, with bar food service until 12:30am). Open today! 1200 9th Ave. at Irving, 415-504-6905.

Then headed over to ~LOCAL KITCHEN AND WINE MERCHANT~ for a preview dinner—once you pass through the tall industrial “Open Sesame” door (similar to the one at Oola) you’ll find a sleek and minimalist space, with lots of marble, niches in the walls for fresh flowers (and inset track lighting in the ceiling), a wine shop, plus a wine bar in a corner of the restaurant, a long communal table, and an open kitchen. The best seat was just across the counter from the blazing pizza oven since it was a pretty chilly night (and the place was a little drafty). I liked all the custom metalwork details, like the very ingenious footrest at the kitchen counter. We were ordering off a limited menu, but some highlights were the butter lettuce and watercress salad laden with bacon and blue cheese (great vinaigrette), and the mahi mahi with a tomato beurre blanc and hearts of palm. There were some other bistro classics, like mussels, a tuna Niçoise salad, and rotisserie chicken, plus pizzas they are busy fine-tuning. For now, the opening is slated for December 10, stand by. 330 1st St. at Folsom, 415-777-4200.

Now, my whereabouts from 10:30pm until 5am that night are off the record, LOL.

Some changes over at the newly reopened ~MECCA~: executive chef Randy Lewis is moving on, but will continue working with owner Steve Weber on their Best-O-Burger concept, which is now slated to open at the end of January. (A second location is beginning to look like it will open in Hawaii, and then a third location in SF is also being considered.) Moving into Lewis’s place is Mecca’s recent chef de cuisine, Michael Rogers, who was hired from Fog City Diner a few months back. After speaking with Weber, he mentioned Rogers and Lewis have been transitioning the menu into more of an accessible/casual style. It also sounds like there may be another deal in the works, which would involve chef Lewis—stand by for more details. 2029 Market St. at Church, 415-621-7000.

I’ve also been hearing all kinds of rumblings about the ever-popular ~MYTH~—one big rumor (that chef Sean O’Brien denied) is that he has a new restaurant. But the other buzz I’ve been hearing is that the restaurant is being sold to some big restaurant group. No one is confirming details yet, so stay tuned.

I have always adored “The Drug Store” space on Mission—you know the place that used to house all the vintage mini-shops, right across from El Rio? Well, by early spring, a new barbecue joint will be moving in: ~BABY BLUES BBQ~. The project is a second location of the one that was started in Venice Beach three years ago by Rick McCarthy and Rick Fischer—brother Paul Fischer is the one launching the SF location. The Fischer brothers come from a restaurant family from Philly, with ten siblings who all started working in the restaurant business at a young age. The building dates back to 1900, and local firm Levy Art and Architecture is busy getting permits underway for the space, which will also house an art gallery.

So, the ‘cue! It embodies all styles of southern BBQ, from Texas ribs to North Carolina sauces—just whatever is good! It will all be made with either organic or top-quality meats, and there will be 16 feet of grill space and three smokers, wow. Based on a Food Network segment I watched about the original location, hello pulled pork and grilled corn! The joint will have 45 seats, serving lunch and dinner daily, with beer and wine. What’s different is table service will be offered instead of the usual barbecue joint counter-only style of service, and it’s geared to be family friendly. Can’t wait. 3149 Mission St. at Precita.

Back in June, I announced a barbecue place was coming to the Divisadero corridor, next door to the Transfer Market. Well, the joint now has a name, ~AL'S BACKYARD BBQ & GRILL~, and they are hoping to open in February. When I originally wrote it up, I said there will be “slooooooow-smoked brisket, pork ribs, chicken, and links made by someone specially chosen for the task, so the casing will be less tough/more refined.” Pant pant. 853 Divisadero St. at McAllister.

More happenings in the Western Addition: last week I mentioned mini bar sf, and opening around the corner on Fulton will be ~CANDYBAR~, the city’s first dessert lounge (and combination wine bar offering international wines). Owner Tan Truong comes from a family of restaurant owners, and has worked front of house at Asia de Cuba, and in the kitchen at Out the Door. Inspired by New York dessert-only places like ChikaLicious, look for a rotating list of desserts and homemade ice creams—who will be concocting these delights is still TBD, so I’ll let you know once the pastry chef or consultant is final. The space will have two sections, a front lounge area with bench seating by the big windows, and the back area will have tables geared for dates and dessert, with cream walls and a rotating art gallery. If all goes according to plan, this 49-seat space will be open by mid February. Hours look like 5pm until (hopefully) midnight, or even 1am on Fri–Sat—we’ll have to see what happens with approvals. My two cents: It would be nice to have a place to hang out in the evenings that’s not necessarily a bar. 1335 Fulton St., Suite 101, at Divisadero, 415-577-4331.

Another person hoping for late hours is J.D. Petras, the owner of ~CAFÉ FLORE~. He is applying for the option to serve liquor until 2am (he currently has to close at 11pm, or midnight on the weekends) and permission for DJs to spin. Petras has also wanted to be able to serve food 24 hours a day for some time now. He is stating that without getting these approvals/permits, the future of Café Flore is bleak. A website has been launched, and they are (begging) people to attend the city planning commission hearing this Thursday at City Hall to support them. Café Flore is first on the meeting agenda—it starts at 1:30pm in the Commission Chambers-Room 400. The café is one of the more pleasant places to hang out in the Castro, and I’d like to see it thrive and stick around. 2298 Market St. at Noe, 415-621-8579.

I’m looking into my crystal ball, and I’m seeing another very successful restaurant moving into a former bank. Yes, like Nopa. Although this time it’s another four-letter restaurant: ~DOSA~. The space is in the lower Fillmore, in the old Goodwill across from the Kabuki. Once the 5,800-square-foot restaurant opens, it should have around 120 seats, with room for another 20–30 for private dining. The space is still being designed, but the goal is for it to become a neighborhood place that appeals to a diverse crowd, like it does in the Mission, serving dinner and weekend lunch. Owner Anjan Mitra just returned from two weeks in South India, and is inspired to expose San Francisco diners to authentic dishes specific to certain regions (he was telling me about a mango curry that sounded delicious). The menu will rotate with the seasons, with spicier dishes in the winter, and lighter and/or fish-based dishes in the summer. The Mitras use local ingredients as much as possible—they even have a local source for curry leaves, so that approach will continue. The wine list will be expanded, and they are hoping to secure a liquor license as well. The opening is slated for end of summer or fall in 2008. 1700 Fillmore St. at Post.

Things are getting very close for ~SERPENTINE~ in Dogpatch. Depending on how daily inspections go this week, they might open for a (very soft) opening on Friday. 2495 Third St. at 22nd, 415-252-2000.

Eater had the scoop on chef Thierry Clement of Fringale’s new project, ~L’ARDOISE~, moving into the former Los Flamingos space at Noe and Henry. The name means “blackboard,” and should clue you in to the bistro style of cuisine that will be offered (dinner to start), made with organic ingredients. The remodel will kick off in the beginning of the year, and Clement hopes to open by February or March. There’s also some room for outdoor tables once the weather warms up. Clement’s replacement at Fringale should be named soon—he anticipates that he will be departing Fringale by the end of the year, and perhaps consulting in the new year during the transition.

Now you can get crabby! After the two-week delay, the local crab season is underway (but now there are those pesky monster waves to deal with). The ~WOODHOUSE FISH COMPANY~ restaurant is one of the first to offer fresh local crab picked up daily from Pier 45. This week they are running the second annual “Dungeness Madness” crab feed, offering an all-crab menu, featuring a whole cooked and cracked crab for $13. You can also go nuts with some crab Louis, crab cocktails, crab cakes, crab sandwich or cioppino. 2073 Market St. at 14th, 415-437-CRAB (2722).

At last, ~LA TRAPPE~ opens this Saturday in the former Buca Giovanni space. Release the ale. And the mussels. And fries. 800 Greenwich St. at Mason, 415-440-8727.

A few blocks away on Washington Square Park, ~MOOSE’S~ got freshened up and now has more of a neighborhood restaurant menu (complete with "risotto carnitas") from 29-year old partner/executive chef Travis Flood—in fact, there are two menus, a dining room menu and a lounge menu. The new look from Michael Brennan, who is behind Cortez and Circa’s décor, means no more white tablecloths, a 20-person communal table has been added, and the bar has been refurbished and will be serving new specialty cocktails. Wine director Glen Standish has put together a list showcasing boutique producers and organic and biodynamically produced wines. Dinner nightly 5:30pm–10pm; brunch Sundays 10:30am–2:30pm. 1652 Stockton St. at Union, 415-989-7800.

I love getting together with friends for holiday lunches. There are two places that begin with “B” that I think are particularly well suited: the ~BIG 4 AT THE HUNTINGTON~, and from now until Christmas, ~BIX~ will be serving lunch Monday through Friday as well. Order a couple martinis and think of me. Cheers.

Since the holiday season is in full effect, look for an upcoming tablehopper giveaway and gift guide next week! In the meantime, I thought you’d be fired up to enter this contest on yumsugar, ~THE ULTIMATE HOLIDAY ENTERTAINING GIVEAWAY~. The prizes are pretty sweet. I want them all. Good luck!

Starting December 9, sous chef William Pilz is going to be the chef de cuisine at ~CITIZEN CAKE~. His background includes working under Laurent Gras at Fifth Floor, David Kinch at Manresa, and Ron Segal at Masa’s. 399 Grove St. at Gough, 415-861-2228.

Some more Elizabeth Falkner-land news: Pal Camper English at had the word that the fabulous ~JACKIE PATTERSON~ from Le Colonial, the mixmeistress, will be the bar manager at Orson when it opens. Her last day at Le Colonial is New Year’s Eve, and she is scheduled to be starting up at Orson in mid January.

More news in the bar world: I am sad to report that ~GINGER'S TROIS~ (I can’t mention its naughty alias), the last of the downtown gay bars, is closing down after the first of the year. Waaaah! This divey/campy little number has been open for 17 years, and when I worked downtown I loved getting soused with my homo pals here—you’d practically need a chaser with your greyhound, and I always got a kick out of the feisty regulars who had been parked on barstools since lunch. I seem to recall some crazy boozy cherries you could order too. Anyway. Will report more on what’s moving in there soon—I was asked not to tell. Let’s just say they aren’t strangers to the local bar scene. 246 Kearny St. at Sutter.

On December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment to the U.S Constitution was ratified, repealing Prohibition. So of course, this is an excellent excuse for a party. Elixir, one of the oldest continually running saloons in San Francisco, is throwing a ~REPEAL DAY PARTY~ this Wednesday, December 5th. Bluecoat Gin is sponsoring this event, with $5 cocktails all night, 9pm to close. 3200 16th St. at Guerrero, 415-552-1633.

~CANTINA~ is also throwing a party, sponsored by Dewar’s, from 8pm–12am, free of cost. There will be actors and models and picketers and all sorts of strange and fun stuff to recreate the moment booze came back. 580 Sutter St. at Mason, 415-398-0195.

And fans of ~VICTORIA DAMATO-MORAN’S~ fab drinks will be happy to find her at Bar Johnny on Sundays, the former Tablespoon. She starts this Sunday the 9th, and will be there from 11am until 5pm. Buckle up. Oh wait, the bar stools don’t have seatbelts. 2209 Polk St. at Vallejo, 415-268-0140.