April 15, 2008

April 15, 2008

~ANCHOR & HOPE~, the upscale fish shack from the Town Hall and Salt House crew is opening next Tuesday, April 22. To recap, the warehouse space will have 75 seats, and a 35-foot-long zinc counter. Sarah Schafer's menu reads like a seafood fantasy: brandade, chowder, smoked trout, fried Ipswich clams, Portuguese-style clam stew, and of course lots of raw seafood and a killer lobster roll ($21). There are also some pork ribs, stuffed guinea breast, and a hanger steak for the fans of the non-finned. You can drool over the menu here. I'm intrigued with the warm sea urchin, and crayfish ravioli. Lunch Mon–Fri 11:30am–2pm, dinner Sun–Thu 5:30pm–10pm, Fri–Sat 5:30pm–11pm. 83 Minna St. at First, 415-501-9100.

I had a reader asking me about the new wine bar, La Vinoteca, opening up on Union Street. For the record, I have to make the announcement that I refuse to cover, mention, or promote any businesses run and owned by ~LUISA HANSON~. I've heard too many horror stories, and after what happened to the John Barleycorn, well, 'nuff said. She buys too many buildings in the City and puts in incredibly mediocre businesses, often squeezing out establishments that were important to the neighborhood. The latest I've heard is she is taking over the building where ~CAFÉ MARITIME~ is located, so owner Mark Mitcheltree will be out. Thankfully it's still a ways off (like two and half years), so he'll continue to offer his tasty seafood, fresh shellfish, and late-night hours—a lot of folks in the industry who work in that area appreciate the late hours (until 1am), and the full bar. Mitcheltree will eventually look for another place to locate the business (at least he has some time), but man, he's put a lot of work into building his business on that stretch of Lombard. It's a shame to have to pick up and move elsewhere, but he's optimistic about finding a good spot when the time comes. For now, the lobster rolls, late night specials, and Fernies remain in full effect. 2417 Lombard St. at Scott, 415-885-2530.

So after ten years of business, some freshening up is happening at ~MAGNOLIA PUB & BREWERY~ in the Upper Haight: the restaurant will be getting a brand-new bar and tabletops, all built from reclaimed Douglas fir from the old Levi Strauss building on Valencia Street. They're also repainting, fiddling with some light fixtures, giving the booths a makeover, and adding a new beer board. (Mmmmm, beer.) Plus a new logo is en route. Magnolia will be closing for a little bit in mid-May for the repairs and changes, stand by for actual dates. 1398 Haight St. at Masonic, 415-864-7468.

Over in the Fillmore, Zao is officially closed as of last week, and ~PIZZERIA DELFINA~ will now be able to begin construction. They are hoping to be open in July. 2406 California St. at Fillmore.

Another switcheroo: if all goes according to plan, ~HENRY'S HUNAN~ will be opening their fifth location, with this one going into the former Pescheria space. Henry's Hunan has been around since 1974—ever had Marty's Special? Like, yum. They will need to convert Pescheria's Italian kitchen into one that's wok friendly, so look for an opening in the beginning of June or so. 1708 Church St. at 29th.

A tablehopper reader wanted me to be sure I knew about ~MURACCI'S JAPANESE CURRY & GRILL~ in FiDi: here's what he said, for the benefit of us all: "It's a Japanese lunch place that specializes in Japanese-style curry. You have probably tried Japanese curry before, and know that it is a bit different than Indian curry. I will keep this brief, but just wanted to let you know that this place is truly authentic, with a team of three Japanese people behind the counter taking orders and making meals to-order, using homemade recipes from the shop's proprietors. In addition to really good Japanese curry (chicken, beef, salmon, katsu, etc.), they also have teishoku (set lunches) with fish, chicken, etc., rice and miso soup. The next time you are in the FiDi, or just have a hankering for some homemade curry, give this place a try." (Thanks Josh!) Mon–Fri 11am–6pm, Sat 11am–5pm. 307 Kearny St. at Bush, 415-773-1101.

This weekend I went to the ~CHOCOLATE SALON AT FORT MASON~ (for all of 15 minutes—it was too packed, so they promise to get a bigger space next year) but the intrepid Bunrabs managed to brave the crowds, get some pics, AND some retail scoop. The swell ~COCO-LUXE CONFECTIONS~ folks are opening a retail shop this summer in the Upper Haight, with an expanded line (perhaps some caramels), and a hot cocoa bar. There will be a few bar stools, and some standing bar space as well. I heart the truffles (German chocolate ganache, anyone?) and the cute packaging and designs always make these chocolates a great gift. 1673 Haight St. at Cole.

I just had to mention the tasty lunch I had at ~BONG SU~ last week for a Friday meeting. It's hard to beat the "power lunch" special, for $17, which gives you the choice of one dish each from four first course and second course dishes. Of course I had to have my favorite, the shrimp cupcakes, followed up by the equally messy bun cha noodles. Bong Su has a chic atmosphere, and is a great spot for a quieter lunch scene. 311 Third St. at Folsom, 415-536-5800.

I know, tax time, no fun. If my write-up a few weeks back on ~O IZAKAYA LOUNGE~ got you hungry, or curious, well, tonight's the night to check it out. They will be offering the happy hour menu all night long (normally offered Mon–Thu 5pm–7pm). Happy hour drinks are only $3 (draft beer, house sake, well drinks), and the shichimi fries are $3, spiced chicken wings are $5, and yakimono is $1.50 per skewer. Hotel Kabuki, 1625 Post St. at Laguna, 415-614-5431.

Then, the day after, on April 16th, Cav Wine Bar & Kitchen is hosting their second annual ~THE DAY AFTER–$5 GLASSES NIGHT~. No, horn rims are not going to be available—it's about some vino, darling. I say stick around for dinner, too. 1666 Market St. at Gough, 415-437-1770.

Happy birthday to ~NOPA~, which turned two on April 11. Bless them for their little gem salad, their pork chop, their grilled broccoli, and serving us such good eats and drinks until 1am. Every. Darn. Night.

Here's a little something that came across my desk: "In a gentle form of protest to the government of California making every effort to devalue the public education system through budget cuts and proposed mass layoffs of teachers, Lark Creek Restaurant Group has called for a ~TEACHER APPRECIATION MONTH~ throughout May at all of their San Francisco Bay Area restaurants (One Market Restaurant and LarkCreekSteak in San Francisco; The Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur; Lark Creek Walnut Creek; and Yankee Pier in Larkspur, SFO, Lafayette and at Santana Row in San Jose). Every teacher who presents his or her teacher identification card will receive $10 off his or her bill. If multiple teachers dine together, the bill will be reduced by $10 for each teacher. There is no limit to the number of times a teacher can receive the discount, nor is there a minimum amount they have to spend."

I was fortunate to actually win a pass to the ~TASTE3 CONFERENCE~ last year thanks to Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks, who donated the pass for the annual Menu for Hope fundraiser. It's an inspiring event, presented by Robert Mondavi Winery at COPIA, in Napa, and is running this year from July 17–19, 2008. It attracts a very tapped-in audience from the food and wine industries, like restaurateurs, sommeliers, chefs, retailers, media, designers, scientists, academics, foodies and wine enthusiasts. (Previous speakers include Thomas Keller, Drew Nieporent, Eleanor Coppola, and others.) Some people can afford it, but for those who can't, a limited number of fellowships are available, which will cover all registration costs for the conference (transportation and lodging, however, are the responsibility of the recipient). Applications will be reviewed by a panel and fellowships awarded in early May 2008. To apply for a fellowship, please answer the below and email (not as attachment but in the body of the email) to mia [at] taste3 [dot] com by April 25, 2008. Awardees will be notified on or before May 15, 2008. Good luck!

1) What is your passion; what inspires you in your life?
2) Tell us about yourself and your background.
3) Why do you want to attend Taste3?
4) What would your participation bring to the Taste3 community?

Here's another big tryout happening: casting for ~TOP CHEF 5~! Bravo is coming to San Francisco on Monday, April 21st, to hold an open casting call at Postrio (545 Post St.) from 10am–2pm. They want dynamic chefs from all backgrounds to come by and meet with them. They are looking for "chefs with a passion for food, creativity, a knowledge of cooking techniques and trends, and oodles of charisma." They continue, "We're excited to meet everyone. All interested candidates should come to the open call whether or not they have started their application package. Please know, however, that it is to your advantage to get your submission elements in right away; you'd be ahead of the game if you brought your application video and completed application to the open call." Download the application and learn more at www.BravoTV.com/casting.

Ever wanted to try to master paella? Here's your chance: on Sunday, April 27th, California Table is hosting a ~PAELLA PARTY~ for their monthly food event. The plan is to have all 60 guests participate by following some recipes and making two–three tapas, while their four-foot paella pan is cookin' up the good stuff! California Table has a space in Bernal with a large and comfy inner studio space as well as a spacious backyard where they will have the paella pan. Sangria and wine will be flowin', plus some aguas frescas. You can read more at going.com/paella. $65. Starts at 1pm.

I totally had fun checking out the Passover dinner at ~DELFINA~ last year. It's coming up again, running April 19–25, when Delfina will offer special dishes inspired by Passover. It's not a seder, but a weeklong, a la carte menu celebration of the holiday, featuring special seasonal dishes that will change throughout the week. Menus may include: Watson Farms abbacchio with fava beans; brisket a few different ways; carciofi alla giudea; poached bass with gelatina and walnut sauce; veal tongue dolce-forte; risi bisi (if there are peas), rigatoncini with luganega meatballs; artichokes and green olives and an edible seder plate (you'll see). They'll have matzoh ball soup every night (with walnuts in the middle—a Stoll family recipe), matzoh ribollita, and Passover matzoh crostini, along with their usual dishes too. As the Delfina folks say, "Keep in mind that it's not kosher and we make no claims as to authenticity—only to deliciousness and fun. Hope to see you there!" Call 415-552-4055 for reservations.

So, I mentioned last week that ~KOLIN VOZZOLER~ of Restaurant Gary Danko was moving to a restaurant in the Peninsula: now I can reveal that he will be the executive chef of Marché Restaurant, beginning May 1. He'll be putting seven years of culinary experience from working at Restaurant Gary Danko to work, five years as a sous chef and three years as the executive sous chef. 898 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park, 650-324-9092.

Over in the East Bay, there are a couple projects brewing on Shattuck. First, Wendy Brucker and Roscoe Skipper of Rivoli are opening ~CORSO TRATTORIA~ on May 7th in the former Phoenix Pastificio space. The 50-seat restaurant will be a casual Italian trattoria, specializing in Florentine cuisine, with pizza, a full bar, and an all-Italian wine list. Elaine Rivera is the chef de cuisine under Brucker—she was formerly at Oliveto. Dinner to start (only large groups can make reservations), then lunch kicks in one week later, and weekend brunch a week after that. 1786 Shattuck Ave. at Delaware, Berkeley, 510-848-7100.

And then practically across the street, coming later this summer will be ~CIOCCOLATA DI VINO~, a dessert and wine café. Owner Rebecca Bernstein is putting together a menu that is based around desserts and wine, but some small plates will be offered as well. Pastries will be served in the morning (baked by Bernstein), and the menu will morph into some lunchtime-apropos and evening offerings. Look for an Italian focus on both the food and wine; dessert wines, port, and specialty hot chocolates will also be served. The vibe will be casual yet chic, with a living room style, but not bohemian (read: not hippie). 1801 Shattuck, Suite C, at Delaware, Berkeley.

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