May 27, 2008

May 27, 2008

The historic (try over one hundred years old and counting) ~FLY TRAP RESTAURANT~ in SoMa is about to undergo some changes—Hoss Zaré will be the new chef-owner, and will be renaming it "Zaré at Fly Trap." It's funny how things come full circle, because Zaré worked there from 1989–1992, starting as a line cook under Craig Thomas, formerly the executive chef of Ernie's, and Zaré worked his way up to chef (it was his first executive chef position). He is excited to have a new project after being away for a few years, and this time his venue has a full bar, a private dining room, and lounge—all things he didn't have at his former restaurant, Zaré on Sacramento Street (where the now-closed Les Amis was). Zaré is planning to close the Fly Trap for a week in late July for some cleaning and small changes to the space—the piano is being removed to make room for a communal table in the bar area, making it more lounge-like, and just so you're not totally shocked, the tablecloths will be departing.

The menu will also undergo some changes: Zaré will be making it more Cal-Mediterranean, but some classics like the famed celery Victor (the dish I always order at the Fly Trap) will remain. He's going to be adding some additional appetizers for those who don't want a full meal or entrée—there will be about 12–15 total. Hours will be extended as well: the restaurant will be open nightly for dinner until midnight, with the bar pouring until 1am; lunch will continue to be served Monday through Friday. By the end of the year, Zaré plans to add brunch, and delivery to neighbors and businesses that live within a three or four-block radius. He also wants to retain the wonderful staff that works there, and is looking forward to injecting more fun in the atmosphere, bridging the gap from the old to the new. 606 Folsom St. at 2nd St., 415-243-0580.

Dennis Leary of Canteen has opened his casual breakfast and lunch spot, ~THE SENTINEL~, just across from the Palace Hotel. Like the space, which was a former cigar shop, he's starting small. A few definites: there will be good coffee from Mr. Espresso (and then from Four Barrel Coffee once the roastery gets up and running), fresh breakfast treats like house-made brioche and coffee cake, and for lunch, there will be soup and a couple sandwiches each day, some on homemade bread. For now, Leary is keeping it simple so he can get the biz going and see what the petite facility, and one oven, can handle production-wise, so take it easy on him. Oh, and the menu board and awning are forthcoming! Leary will continue running the dinner show at Canteen, in case you were wondering. Hours are Mon–Fri 7am–2pm. Remember, everything is subject to change, from menu items to hours. 35 New Montgomery St. at Stevenson, 415-284-9960.

Here's an update on ~ZAYTOON~, the project I mentioned last month that's opening in the old Bistro Annex space in the Mission. It should now be opening mid-June or so, with a tight menu focused on wraps, like schwarmas (chicken, and possibly lamb, or lamb-beef), falafel (also available deluxe, with potato and eggplant), and a mezes platter (dolmas, hummus, baba ghannoush), all made with quality ingredients. 1136 Valencia St. at 22nd St., 415-824-1787.

Also in the Mission: I got an update on what is moving into the former ADS Hats location on Valencia, next door to Cha-Ya. The restaurant will be called ~GRUB~, and is from the same owner (Isaac Mognnam) who is opening the previously-mentioned Booth on Polk Street—Naylor and Chu will also be designing this space (check out the rendering). It will be a casual 49-seater that should be opening in late summer or early fall, serving contemporary Californian breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a twist. Some potential examples might be Buffalo wings, but with an apricot glaze, or some chicken strips with a falafel crust, or scrambled eggs with Brie and basil, or a BLT burger that is made with bison. The eclectic menu will be affordable, with most dishes ranging from $8–$13, but still made with excellent ingredients, many organic when possible. Will let you know more as things get closer. 758 Valencia St. at 19th St.

Over in the East Bay, I had a chance to catch up with the folks behind the changes to Pearl Oyster Bar & Restaurant in Rockridge, which closed for a redux after four-and-a-half years of business. It will be reopening on June 9th with a new name and style: ~WATER LOUNGE~. Owner Rick Tyler is having GM Micaela Gardner and assistant manager Jason Sole fine tune and launch the transformation of the restaurant into more of a bar and lounge that serves "high-end bar food." Some Pearl favorites, like the oysters and ahi poke will remain, plus there will be additional raw bar offerings, like tombo tartare and sashimi specials. There will also be a few hot dishes from the kitchen, like a panko-crusted cod and chips, and half a Cornish game hen with fries. (The menu should be posted on the website later this week.) Prices will be dropping a little as they dial the concept down, making it a less-formal spot to eat and drink.

Changes to the space include getting rid of the seating in the front and converting it to lounge-style seating; a partition is being removed so the space feels more open; a fresh paintjob is underway; the barstools are getting changed (from red to black); the glass tabletops will be swapped out for cherry and can fold down into a smaller size; there will be a new sound system, and a DJ will be playing Thursday through Saturday nights—entertainment will be listed weekly on the site. There will also be rotating art every three months, plus impromptu and unexpected entertainment, from video installations to dance performance. The cocktail list has been revamped, and will feature eight seasonal cocktails—a few of the popular Pearl-era drinks will remain. The grand opening party is June 9th at 8pm; anyone can attend. There will be free oysters and sangria, plus some DJs and dance performances. Hours will then be daily from 5:30pm–1am, closed on Mondays. 5634 College Ave., in between Keith and Ocean View, Oakland, 510-654-5426.

Did you know Joyce Goldstein has a new book out today: Mediterranean Fresh: A Compendium of One-Plate Salad Meals and Mix-and-Match Dressings? I can't wait to try some recipes from it, because lord knows I could use more salads in my life. Perfect season for 'em, too. Since I am sure this event will sell out quickly, I thought I should let you know she will be hosting an upcoming ~COOKS WITH BOOKS~ event at Left Bank Restaurant in Larkspur on Tuesday, July 29th, 2008, at 6:30pm. Here's more from Book Passage:

"In the Mediterranean, a meal of summer salads means anything from tabbouleh to white beans and prawns in a lemony dressing to small plates of mezze, antipasta or tapas. Fans of Joyce Goldstein know of her expertise on Mediterranean food from her days as chef/owner of San Francisco's Square One. She shares 140 recipes of delicious and easy to prepare meals based on Mediterranean salads. In this book you'll find over 30 versatile dressings, using marinades, spreads, dips and finishing sauces. She is the author of many cookbooks and a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. The price of the combined book & meal is $95 per person/$170 per couple.

"The author/chef discusses his or her cooking ideas with the guests during the meal. Seating begins at 6:30pm. Coffee and conversation usually end about two hours later. Tickets are purchased in advance through Book Passage. The price includes the meal, wine, tax, tip, and a signed copy of the book (one copy per couple). Sign-up online, or call 415-927-0960 to register by phone." 507 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur.

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