June 24, 2008

June 24, 2008

Been hearing some rumblings about ex-Myth chef ~SEAN O’BRIEN’S~ next gig—the ink isn’t dry so he asked me to wait a week. Stand by. Let’s just say if it all goes through, he’ll be back in SF. And that’s all I am allowed to say!

Meanwhile, my teaser proved itself to be true: it is close to confirmed that ~QUINCE~ is moving into the former Myth space on Pacific. So, no yelling from Gordon Ramsey, ha ha. Stand by for the what (Will they close their current space? Sell it?), the when, and more.

Moving into the now-closed ~PJ’S OYSTER BED~ space in the Sunset will be a new restaurant from Jose Calvo-Perez of local favorite Fresca. He said he’s not sure if the new restaurant will carry the Fresca name—he’s considering naming it after his daughter, Juliana. Either way, the food will be his family’s trademark modern Peruvian cuisine with Latin flair—look for an opening in January or February. I’ll follow up with more details as they become finalized. 737 Irving St. at 8th Ave.

More on the Peruvian tip: last week I had a chance to meet the exceedingly kind and pretense-free celeb chef Gastón Acurio, who has restaurants in seven countries, including Peru, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Mexico, Spain and Venezuela, with plans to open in Costa Rica and Brazil. He is opening his first restaurant in the U.S., ~LA MAR CEBICHERÍA PERUANA~ (it’s the project going into a 100-year-old building at Pier 1½, just a smidge north of the Ferry Building). I toured the space last week, and it’s going to be quite the spread, with a pisco bar/lounge area (up to 65 seats) where you can get a pisco sour, plus all kinds of other pisco drinks, and graze on small apps to share, then there’s the ceviche bar further inside, serving about ten kinds made with local fish that will highlight a variety of Peruvian chiles, plus some tiraditos, all served on a large bar (around 30 seats) of up-lit blue glass. There is also a spacious dining room in the back (88 seats) flanking the exhibition kitchen, turning out contemporary-Peruvian fare, plus a big outdoor patio overlooking the water that will have a fire pit. It’s rather spiffy.

The chef de cuisine (Jose Luis, who opened the first La Mar with Acurio), the pastry chef, and floor manager are all coming from Acurio’s restaurants in Peru. Local wine guru Emmanuel Kemiji is consulting on the wine list, finding perfect wine pairings for the dishes, and in fact is consulting with Acurio on all his restaurants. La Mar is slated to open at the end of August or early September. Oh, and if you understand Spanish, Acurio has a series called Aventura Culinaria that you can watch on YouTube.

So, I can finally release the news about another Isaac Mogannam project in the Mission (he’s the one behind the other projects I have mentioned here: Grub and Zaytoon, and the upcoming Booth on Polk Street); moving into the Zain's Mediterranean Cuisine space, next door to Big Mouth Burgers, will be ~PHAT PHILLY~. Think truly authentic Philly cheesesteaks: an Amoroso Philly Roll (baked in Philly), with a choice of provolone, American cheese, or Whiz (if you must), sweet banana peppers and hot cherry peppers, and the twist is that these will be made with quality beef and chicken. Mogannam stated he will be doing his best to use local produce, if not 100% organic ingredients. There will be several options for vegetarians, including a portobello cheesesteak, a veggie cheesesteak, and a tofu cheesesteak. Also expect fries, both regular and crisscut (waffle fries), served as is, with cheese, or get them topped with Whiz and chili (antacid not included). Also on the menu: Buffalo wings in Frank's RedHot Sauce or BBQ-flavored, milkshakes, Tastykake snacks, Goldenberg's Peanut Chews, Herr's Pretzels, and lastly, Frank's Black Cheery Wishniak Soda, all Philly favorites. Phat Philly is due to open sometime between early July and early August. 3388 24th St. at Valencia.

And now, an export from the Inner Richmond: Eater broke the story that ~SUSHI BISTRO~ on Balboa is opening a second location on 24th Street, just next door to the St. Francis Fountain. It’s going to be a complete build out, so the opening isn’t slated to happen until the beginning of 2009. Look for a similar format to the original location, with an extended sake list. Like I said, 24th Street is shaping up to be the new Valencia. 2809 24th St. at York.

A tablehopper Missionite/hipster informs me that ~UDUPI PALACE~ opened this weekend in the former Firecracker space. Yes folks, San Francisco’s only South Indian places (two) are a block away from each other. Madness, I tell you. Open Tue–Sun for lunch and dinner, closed Mondays. 1007 Valencia St. at 21st St., 415-970-8008.

I got word that the colorful ~LOLO~ in the Mission has discontinued weekend brunch. 3234 22nd St. at Bartlett, 415-643-5656.

But, one door closes and other opens, because ~LINGBA~ in Potrero Hill is kicking off brunch on Saturday, July 12th. The menu seems mostly lunchy, but the few brunch dishes include Kurobuta pork hash and eggs, coconut buckwheat pancakes, a Thai-style omelet with green onion, ground chicken, and spicy green chili sauce, and a mushroom tart with a poached egg on top. They win for one of the most “gotta try it” morning cocktails I’ve seen in a while: the Bacon & Eggs Bloody Mary. Here’s the recipe in case you feel like experimenting at home: it’s kind of an all-in-one drink if I ever saw it. Breakfast of champions for sure. Brunch hours will be 11am–3pm. 1469 18th St. at Connecticut, 414-355-0001.

Bacon & Eggs Bloody Mary:

2 oz Tito’s handmade vodka
4 oz fresh pressed tomato juice
1 slice of extra crispy Marin Sun Farms bacon
.5 oz Worcestershire sauce
.5 oz Golden Mountain sauce
juice of ½ lemon
2 quail egg yolks
4 dashes Tabasco sauce
pinch of coarse sea salt
pinch of crushed black peppercorn
fresh grated horseradish

In glass shaker combine lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Golden Mountain sauce, salt, pepper, Tabasco, and horseradish. Add tomato juice and vodka, then fill shaker with ice. Stir all ingredients, then pour into a tall Collins glass. Carefully float quail eggs on top and add the bacon.

~UVA ENOTECA~ in the Lower Haight is starting their weekend brunch on Saturday July 5th. Hours will be 10am–3pm every Sat–Sun. 568 Haight St. at Steiner.

Fellow fans of the teas at Namu, or folks who live in the Inner Richmond nabe, may be already familiar with the Aroma Tea Shop, where you can sit for the free tea tasting and education session, and then once you’re hooked on a new kind, you can buy up some tea for home. After a scouting walk in Russian Hill, I have learned Aroma is expanding to Polk Street, opening a second location called ~AROMA TEA 2~ in the former Cafe Lambretta space. If all goes according to plan, it will open in mid to late July, and will not only have a tea tasting bar, and tea available for sale, but they will also have brewed tea to go (including iced tea with fresh fruit), plus some tables where customers can sit and enjoy tea on their own time. The tables will mimic ones common in China, with a built-in sink and heater for the kettle, so customers can sit and do their own tea service. 1806 Polk St. at Washington.

A big thanks to Thy Tran who has an update on Bay Area Bites about what is happening to the ~HEART OF THE CITY FARMERS’ MARKET~ at the UN Plaza. I love my Wednesday market, and hope it continues to exist—it’s important to a lot of people. I’ll continue to post updates here on the situation.

A few more details about the ~URBAN TAVERN~ project that Laurent Manrique and Chris Condy of C&L Partners have taken over: first, Donna Scala is still involved in the project, and second, the executive chef is Patrick Kehler, who served as chef de cuisine at Aqua, and was also at Circolo Restaurant. Look for Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, and an opening in early August. The restaurant will be open daily from 11:30am until late. 333 O'Farrell St. at Mason, 415-923-4400.

After what has seemed like ages, ~LONG BAR & BISTRO~ has finally opened in the Fillmore Grill space. The menu reportedly includes some straightforward classics, like calamari, mussels, fish and chips, sliders, ahi tuna tartare, plus tater tots. tablehopper reader Carla says, “I was at Long Bar last night (finally!) for drinks... they did such a nice job! I love how they remodeled—completely changed the location of the bar (big improvement).” But another reader was kvetching to me about a few things, so all I can say is a SOFT OPENING=caveat emptor. There’s no voicemail, so I have idea what their hours are, sorry. Yet. 2298 Fillmore St. at Clay, 415-440-1700.

And now, menu watch! ~PRES A VI GLOBAL CUISINE AND WINE BAR~ has added entrée-sized dishes in addition to their array of small plates. One Letterman Drive, near the corner of Chestnut and Lyon Streets, Presidio, 415-409-3000.

~SPRUCE~ is now offering a Harvest Menu at lunch, a prix-fixe three-course meal and optional wine pairing. The menu is seasonal, and currently features braised spring onions, pancetta-wrapped day boat scallops, and for dessert, pannacotta with market blueberries. The menu is $30 without wine, and $45 with. (Diners may also opt for a half wine pairing if they just want “a splash.”) 3640 Sacramento St. at Spruce, 415-931-5100.

~LUCE~ has kicked off Sunday Suppers, a “farm to table” tasting menu inspired by Crenn’s Saturday visits to the farmers’ market. $45 per person, and $65 with wine pairings. InterContinental Hotel San Francisco, 888 Howard St. at Fifth St., 415-616-6566.

Some cool events coming up: Meatpaper and Gastronomica, two independent-minded magazines exploring the intersections of food and culture, are celebrating the publication of their summer issues with a lively evening of artistic food and food-centric art called ~SUMMER FEAST~. The event will feature tastings from local chefs and purveyors (chef Staffan Terje/Perbacco, chef Leif Hedendal, chef Chris Kronner/Serpentine, chef Scott Youkilis/Maverick, The Fatted Calf, Prather Ranch Meat Co.), as well as wine and cocktails (Verge Syrah, La Fee Absinthe, Rhum Clement, Bluecoat Gin, Trumer Pils, and more), an art exhibition, and live music from Gaucho. Sunday July 20th, from 6pm–9pm. Tickets are $25 per person, and may be purchased online via credit card or PayPal. A limited number of tickets will be sold at the door. Event is at Perbacco Restaurant, 230 California St. at Battery.

The Commonwealth Club has a slew of great events, including this ~BAY GOURMET PANEL: WOMEN CHEFS CONFIDENTIAL~ on Monday June 30th, featuring a very special panel of women who have had a huge impact on the San Francisco dining scene as it is today: Loretta Keller, Marsha McBride, Nancy Oakes, Gayle Pirie, Judy Rodgers, and Joyce Goldstein. 5:30pm reception, 6pm program; members free, $18 non-members. Read more and order tickets here.

And then in July is the summer Platforum series, ~HOW WE EAT~, including Alice Waters on July 31st, plus a bunch more events after that. Read all about the series here.

Opening in downtown Oakland on September 1st in the former Savannah's Place (a Chinese and Vietnamese restaurant) will be ~KAFFIR~ from Amy Torgerson and Lejla Borovac. It will be a casual, quick-service restaurant offering Southeast Asian street food with a California twist, including some apps, salads, soups, and rice or noodle bowls made with free-range meat and poultry, and sustainable seafood. Eco-friendly building materials as well as biodegradable packaging will be used during the development and operation of KAFFIR. Torgerson is a graduate of the CCA and has worked at Limon, Lark Creek Inn, Costanoa Resort, and RNM, while Borovac will be running the front of house (her background includes Long Tan in Brooklyn, New York, as well as Cha Cha Cha, Chow, and RNM). The restaurant will be open for lunch Mon–Fri, with extended hours in the months following the opening. 578 14th St. at Clay, Oakland.

And coming this winter to the Glenview District will be ~MARZANO~, a neighborhood pizzeria joint from John Hurley, Justin Hafen, and Scott Sasaki of Garibaldi’s. The petite space is undergoing a complete build-out, and should be open in November, with a food-fired oven and about 40 seats. In addition to Neapolitan pizzas, there will also be a fish, meat, and pasta entrée each night, plus salads, and full liquor. The name of the executive chef can’t be released yet since he is currently employed elsewhere in the Bay Area and hasn’t given notice. Dinner nightly, and open continuously on the weekends from 10am–10pm. 4214 Park Blvd. at Glenfield, Oakland.

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