May 13, 2008

May 13, 2008

The next project officially moving into the Mint Plaza zone, just to the left of Chez Papa Resto, will be a ~GASTRO-STEAKHOUSE PROJECT~ from Peter Greerty, most recently the GM of Bong Su. The name, and chef, are currently undecided, but look for more details in the coming months since the project is slated to open in late November or early December—the lease was just final on Friday. There will be 120 seats total, with 30–40 outside, and 90 inside (including seats at the bar). It will be open daily for lunch and dinner, serving a late afternoon menu during the in-between times. The hours are also planned to run late, until midnight or even 12:30am on the weekends. The space is rather industrial, so expect a hip, modern design. I'll keep you posted as details tighten up. 418 Jessie St. at 5th St.

After 25 years in its location, the CCA is serving its last lunch on May 23rd and then closing the ~CARÊME ROOM~ at 625 Polk Street. Since the campus has been moving to consolidate everything at its newer campus at 350 Rhode Island in Potrero Hill, they really only need one restaurant—it doesn't make sense to have two locations. The new Carême 350 restaurant opens for lunch on May 28th (all the other campuses down in that area should be happy with this new dining option), and will serve lunch Tue–Fri 11:30am–1pm, and dinner Tue–Fri from 6pm–8pm. Some interesting news on the history of the old Polk Street space since I'm into that stuff: it used to be a German social house, bowling alley included, and later on it was California Hall, when big sixties bands like Janis Joplin/Big Brother and the Holding Company, Steve Miller, and Jimi Hendrix played there (check out the groovy sixties posters of past acts). In coming months there will be a few one-off classes and offices, and the school will cease all activity in the location in August.

Yup, it's one big head shaker: the money-makin' ~TAVERN ON THE GREEN~ is expanding to San Francisco—yeah, the one that's the second-highest grossing independent restaurant in the U.S. It's opening on the top floor of the Metreon, overlooking Yerba Buena Gardens, and will be the largest restaurant in San Francisco, sporting a hefty 40,000 square feet. Can you say private events for convention-goers? Exactly. But I will say the outdoor terrace should be pretty neat. The project is due to open next summer, in 2009. The San Francisco Business Journal has some good details on the project, read more here, and a piece in the Chronicle reveals the executive chef will be Brian Young, formerly of New York's Le Bernardin and Citarella the Restaurant.

Yay, more Asian street food is making its way into the mainstream. Opening at the end of May will be ~KASA INDIAN EATERY~, a cross between a taqueria and Indian joint (perhaps not coincidentally the space was most recently La Castro Taqueria). The menu will feature a variety of "kati rolls" (think Indian wraps) in buttery roti bread; you'll take your pick from fillings like chicken tikka or tikka masala, lamb curry, and veggie options, like paneer with peppers and onion, or cumin potatoes, or a version with scrambled eggs, Gruyere, and onions and chutney (not sure what to make of that one, but I'll try anything once). All the kati rolls will come with raita and chutney; you can also order a dish "deconstructed" and get daal (lentils) and basmati rice on the side instead. Everything will be made from scratch and with quality ingredients. The space will have an order-at-the-counter style, with guests moving down the line as you order a la Pancho Villa. There will also be beer, wine, Indian sodas, and chai tea. 4001 18th St. at Noe.

Nua in North Beach barely closed and now moving into its place is ~VICOLETTO~. The name means "little alley" in Italian, and that's a hint about where the young new owner and chef are from: yes, Italia. The owner, Francesco Covucci, is Calabrese but has been living in San Francisco for five years, and the chef, Gabriele Lastaria, is Napoletano—he just landed in San Francisco over the weekend. They will be putting together a seasonal menu and are focused on using quality ingredients, plus they will be making pastas in house, like tagliatelle, ravioli, and gnocchi. The restaurant will open for dinner next week, from 5pm–11am. 550 Green St. at Jasper Alley.

I'm hearing that former site of the Pagoda Palace Theater on Washington Square (next to old Washbag space) will be another ~LA CORNETA TAQUERIA~, a relative to the one in Glen Park. Didn't hear back from the architect in time for details—will have more next week! 1741 Powell St. at Union.

Last week I failed to mention the new ~HARD KNOX CAFE~ location is open in its new outer Richmond digs, in the former Greco Romana space. Every neighborhood needs a fried chicken HQ. Hours are Mon–Sat 11am–10pm, and Sun 11am–6pm. 2448 Clement St. at 25th Ave., 415-752-3770.

Since I have better odds of winning the lottery than getting a phone call or email back from the folks at ~TOAST~, we have the Noe Valley Voice to thank for the update on timing of the second Toast location. Mid-June is the projected opening in the former Herb's Fine Foods space. According to writer Mazook of the Rumors Behind the News column, "Like Toast No. 1 (1748 Church), the cafe plans to serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with hamburgers and salads as specialties." 3991 24th St. at Noe.

Just a reminder: ~MAGNOLIA~ in the Haight has closed for its renovation—it should be open again next week for dinner on Wednesday, May 21st, all nice and freshened up. There will be a new sausage program too: a selection of five different house-made sausages (including a veggie one) will be available, solo or with a choice of two sides.

~BOCCALONE~, the salumi line from the folks at Incanto, will now call a retail shop in the Ferry Building Marketplace home—it's moving into the former Capay Organic space. According to their newsletter, expect a modern American version of a traditional salumeria this summer, featuring all varieties of their handmade meats. You will be able to purchase salumi sliced to order, in hot and cold panini (how about some lonza with peach and mint?), on a variety of salumi platters, or in portable paper salumi cones (who needs ice cream when you can have a cone of coppa?). There will be red vintage Italian slicer, and an eight-by-eight-foot glass refrigerator showcasing a variety of hanging meats. Boccalone items will also be available for delivery in the downtown area, courtesy of a bright red "salumi-cycle," designed and built by Sycip Designs of Santa Rosa. I think I need one of those.

Thought you'd like to know the latest hours for ~FOUR BARREL COFFEE~ so you can get your alley coffee fix: Mon–Fri 7am–5pm, and Sat–Sun 9am–5pm. Just enter the alley (Caledonia) off 15th Street—it's parallel to and a little bit east of Valencia (i.e. going toward Mission).

Seems the charms of alley coffee are irresistible, because open today is ~CENTO~, which just rolled open its door on Ritch Street in SoMa. This petite kiosk is the latest from John Quintos, who had Café Lambretta on Polk Street until he was forced to close due to some neighborhood café non-compete mess. While he's still searching for a location to reopen Café Lambretta, he has opened Cento, which means one hundred, and was also the smallest Lambretta. The kiosk is right next door to 330 Ritch, which Quintos used to own. Blue Bottle Coffee espressos will be pulled on the La Marzocco Linea, and they built their own custom drip bar too. A daily breakfast polenta will be served (savory or sweet) and in a couple weeks more baked goods will be offered. Hours are Mon–Fri 8am–3pm. 360 Ritch St., between Townsend and Brannan, and 3rd and 4th Streets.

Since we're talkin' risin' and shinin', ~BERETTA~ has started serving weekend brunch, with some of the savory dishes, plus the addition of some brunchy items, like spicy sausage hash with poached eggs and smoked mozzarella ($9.50), eggs with roast potatoes and toast, frittata ($9), pancetta or mushroom scrambles ($9.50), and French toast ($9.50). Personally, I'd just concoct a breakfast pizza with pancetta, egg, and Fontina, done. Brunch is Sat–Sun 10am–3pm. 1199 Valencia St. at 23rd St., 415-695-1199.

You got your reservation lined up for this Thursday's (May 15th) ~COCKTAIL WEEK SUPPERS~? Here's a peek at the menu for bacar (see below). Reception at 6pm, dinner at 6:30pm. $90 per person.

Prosciutto Wrapped Roasted Prawns with Avocado-Cucumber Gazpacho
Day at the Spa - Square One Vodka & Cucumber
Striped Bass with Sugar Snap Peas, Potato, and Tomato, Thai Curry
Rhum Basil - Cruzan Rhum, Basil, and Fresh Chilis
Liberty Farms Duck Breast with Scarlet Turnips, Candied Kumquats & Tonka
Trilby - Johnny Walker Black, Crème de Violette & la Fee Absinthe
Chocolate Cherry Beignets with Stout Sabayon
Black Sails - Santa Teresa Solera Rum, Cherries from Lodi, Double Bock Draft Beer

This Saturday, May 17th, Bi-Rite Market in the Mission is hosting a ~COMMUNITY DAY~ on to benefit Nextcourse, a five-year nonprofit food education program with a project at nearby Mission High School. Bi-Rite Market will donate 5% of its proceeds from sales made on May 17th to Nextcourse. The event will feature free food tastings, Bi-Rite Creamery ice cream, free short nutrition consultations, and a drawing for a gourmet food basket. Mission High students who have participated in Nextcourse programs, as well as Nextcourse staff and volunteers, will talk about their program and facilitate the event. 10am–4pm. Bi-Rite Market, 3639 18th St. at Guerrero.

Then Sunday, May 18th is the ~IN SEARCH OF GOOD FOOD BIKE TOUR~. In collaboration with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, the up and coming film In Search of Good Food will be hosting a bike ride in search of good food, mostly through the Mission and southeast portion of the city (nice and flat!). The ride will meander around the Mission and southeast portions of the city before ending up at Alemany Farm. Over about two hours, you will visit sites of interest that relate to the history, past and present, of people trying to eat good food in San Francisco. There will also be guest speakers at a few stops, including Mission Pie, Veritable Vegetable, and a unique up-and-coming FREE farm stand. Please RSVP at insearchofgoodfood [at] gmail [dot] com so they know how many people to expect. Ride safe, eat well! 1pm, Mission St. at 16th St.

The Commonwealth Club Bay Gourmet Forum is hosting an awesome panel on May 19th to discuss ~CHEESE IN THE RAW: EVALUATING RISKS AND REWARDS~. Here's more: "Drawing on their professional experiences in the industry and the most current research on dairy production, the panel will separate fact from fiction in the ongoing controversy surrounding the production and sale of raw milk cheese. They will address criticism from pasteurization advocates and will give their opinions on the government's current 60-day rule. You'll have a chance to consider their arguments while enjoying a distinctive selection of artisanal cheese." Colin Shaff, Maitre-Fromager, Bar Bambino, San Francisco, will moderate. The panelists are: Gordon Edgar, Cheese Monger, Rainbow Grocery, San Francisco; Andy Lax, Sales & Marketing Mgr. Fresca Italia, Brisbane; Moshe Rosenberg, Professor & Specialist, Dairy Engineering & Technology, University of California, Davis; Soyoung Scanlan, Owner/Cheese Maker, Andante Dairy, Petaluma. Ferry Building, Port Commission Hearing Room, 2nd Floor, check-in: 5:45pm, program begins 6:15pm. $8 Commonwealth Club members; $15 non-members. Order tickets at or 415-597-6705.

And next Tuesday, May 20th, you can enjoy May's bounty o' shrooms at ~CAV WINE BAR & KITCHEN~ with their first-ever spring mushroom dinner. All dishes will be served a la carte (and there will be a few funghi-free items on the menu too). 1666 Market St. at Gough, 415-437-1770.

Over in the East Bay, David Seawell is the new executive chef of ~B RESTAURANT & BAR~ in Oakland. His background includes working with Robert Price at Rumpus (anyone remember the chocolate brioche cake there? lordy), Stars Café, Boulevard, and Fog City Diner. The B Restaurant & Bar menu changes seasonally and is prepared with ingredients often obtained from farms within 100 miles of the Bay Area (a bit easier to execute when the Old Oakland Farmer's Market is practically at your front door). Dishes on Seawell's new spring menu include appetizers ($6–$14) like marrow bean soup with fennel broth and chicken liver crostini, California asparagus with poached egg and a Champagne vinaigrette, and entrées ($14–$27) like bacon-roasted quail with white cheddar corn bread stuffing and Dungeness crab gumbo pan sauce, and California halibut with a horseradish crust, English pea flan, and green garlic broth. 499 Ninth St. at Washington, Oakland, 510-251-8770.

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