July 1, 2008

July 1, 2008

Have you noticed some key chefs have not been around lately, or are mysteriously heading off to New York for quick jaunts? Yup, I've heard from various sources that we have quite the local lineup of chefs who have been flying to New York to compete on upcoming episodes of ~IRON CHEF~ on Food Network. Woot. Looks like there will be another chance to watch Chris Cosentino of Incanto, Jonnatan Leiva of Jack Falstaff, and Ravi Kapur of Boulevard. Also heard Nate Appleman of A16/SPQR and Mourad Lahlou of Aziza will be on too. Further rumors have David Kinch (Manresa) and Charles Phan (Slanted Door) also competing. All unconfirmed, but hey, but let's go West Coast! Will let you know when the chefs who are participating are final confirmed, and airdates are set!

The temporary ghost town of Jackson Square is suddenly getting some life back in it. Tumbleweeds, be gone! Not only is the Quince move into the Myth space looking on track, but per my little hint last week about Myth's former executive chef ~SEAN O'BRIEN~ coming back on the local scene, how about this: he's returning to his old neighborhood! At press time he didn't have the keys yet (due to happen today), but it looks like those keys will be opening the door to the Scott Howard space. The restaurant is going to get a little design refresh, and O'Brien said fall looks like a good time to plan on tasting his delicious dinners again (the part about the delicious dinners is all me, mind you). He said he's enjoyed the six-month break, but is really looking forward to getting back in the kitchen. I'll have more in coming weeks. 500 Jackson St. at Montgomery.

I was surprised to learn that ~JOEL HUFF~, one of my favorite local talents, resigned as chef de cuisine at Silks. Huff doesn't have any specific plans to announce, but he is looking for a new position. While the search for a new chef for Silks takes place, Joshua Nudd, the executive chef at Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco, will be stepping in; he recently came to the position from Chambers Kitchen, a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant in Minneapolis. Milan Drager, the previous executive chef at Mandarin Oriental SF, was promoted to the position of food and beverage director in November 2007, but during this interim time both he and Nudd will continue to oversee the dining experience at Silks. 222 Sansome St. at Bush, 415-986-2020.

Also in the downtown area, please note ~RUBICON~ has closed for their annual summer break, and will be back open next Tuesday July 8th. 558 Sacramento St. at Montgomery, 415-434-4100.

Another temporary change in hours: ~MODERN TEA~ in Hayes Valley will be narrowing its offerings for the next few weeks. The staff has a lot of projects to focus on right now, including a tea bar at Cavallo Point's Healing Art Center, their involvement with the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Parks Group, and owner Alice Cravens is also the tea curator for the upcoming Slow Food Nation. And more: they are also working on a tie-in providing lunch and afternoon service at a location south of market to open in September. So what does this all mean? Meal service at Modern Tea will be held back for the next few weeks, but you can still stop in for tea and light nibbles Saturdays and Sundays (2pm–7pm). Cravens can be contacted for wholesale and retail orders through the website, and you can also read more about the Modern Cooks program. 602 Hayes St. at Laguna, 415-626-5406.

The A16/SPQR folks have officially decided the placeholder name they used for the liquor license for their Dogpatch project is actually going to stick: ~URBINO~. (I dig it.) The opening date is still inconclusive: think January–March 2009 for now. The rest of the concept remains the same: focused on the cuisine of Le Marche, plus a food to-go component. I like having something like this to look forward to. 800 Minnesota St. at 20th St.

Things are chugging along for Ryan Scott at ~MISSION BEACH CAFÉ~. In case you were curious about his new menu, here you go: lunch includes sweet corn soup with avocado and tomato oil ($4 cup/$7 bowl); there's a salmon burger with asparagus, English peas, pancetta, avocado, aioli ($12.50); and a duck confit patty melt with smoked mozzarella, caramelized onions, and horseradish mustard sauce ($11). Dinner entrées include seared sea scallops with summer succotash, braised shiitake mushrooms, potato pureé ($23); and grilled pork loin with Israeli couscous, summer squash, cipollini onions, spiced plums ($24). Brunch brings dishes like soufflé pancakes with blueberry cream ($10); and the Mission Beach egg sandwich on a house-made English muffin with roasted tomato, caramelized onion, white cheddar, and potatoes ($7.50). Try to save room for some of Alan Carter's famed desserts (mmmm, pie). Open Mon–Fri at 7am for pastries and Blue Bottle coffee; lunch 11am–2:30pm, dinner Tue–Thu and Sun 5:30pm–10pm, Fri–Sat 5:30pm–11pm. Brunch Sat–Sun 9am–2pm. The restaurant closes at 6pm on Mondays. 198 Guerrero St. at 14th St., 415-861-0198.

A tablehopper reader wrote in to tell me the famed green-glowin' steakhouse in the Mission, yes the historic ~PALACE STEAK HOUSE~, will be closing at the end of July, after 40 years in business. No more steak dinners on plastic trays and garlic bread and booths and free parking. Man. When I get a chance to investigate more I'll report back. 3047 Mission St. at 26th St., 415-647-2011.

Also in the Mission, does anyone have any intel about ~GEORGE'S BBQ~, yet another business opening on 24th Street? The name on the license is Jimmy Panagiotopoulos—anyone know this Greek fella, or have some details about the biz? Efharisto! 3231 24th St. at Capp.

~MISSION PIE~ has made a small move, and is now in a significantly bigger space on the corner of Mission and 25th Street, which means the construction of the on-site bakery is now underway in their old space. Destination Baking Company in Glen Park will continue baking goods for Mission Pie until the new bakery/kitchen is done in the fall (the target is September). Here's more from the folks on Chowhound, and you can read the Mission Pie website too. 2901 Mission St. at 25th St., 415-282-4743.

And now, some more Mission news: it looks like the ~SNACK BAR~ concept from the NOPA folks is in flux. No word on whether it will be Spanish tapas bar, or perhaps now a wine retail place. Stand by for more in coming weeks. 2495 Harrison St. at 21st.

Oh, and fellow Western Addition denizens: ~NOPALITO~, Nopa's upcoming fast-casual Mexican joint, is now looking like an October opening in the Falletti Foods/Broderick Place shopping center. We must wait a bit longer for the carnitas by the pound. (My waistline says thank God.) 306 Broderick St. at Oak.

Yes, even one more piece of Mission news (hey, sorry folks in the Richmond!): this weekend was ~LITTLE STAR PIZZA'S~ last time serving weekend lunch. Didn't seem to get enough traction to keep it going. 400 Valencia St. at 15th St., 415-551-7827.

Okay, okay, no more Mission. Let's go to SoMa, all right? Right. After the water disaster at ~OUT THE DOOR~ in the Westfield Centre, it looks like they are taking advantage of the closure to make some changes: more seating will be added, and a wine bar is in the works as well. Look for a reopening in mid-July or so. 865 Market St., 415-541-9913.

On the other side of town, ~THE GROVE CAFE~ in the Marina has finished their expansion and are now open. 2250 Chestnut St. at Scott, 415-474-4843.

Not tooooo far away, ~MARCHÉ ON THE SQUARE~, the new two-story food gourmet market and grocer in Ghirardelli Square is slated to open this Thursday (call before you head over there, things change!), and Bar Marche and Bar Marche Wine Bar are due to open next Wednesday July 9th. 900 North Point at Larkin, 415-359-0365.

After much ado, and no more Honeydoo, ~SWIRL CULTURE~ yogurt finally opened in North Beach on Sunday. P.S. Yogurtphreeks: there is a PDF coupon on the website for "buy three, and the fourth is free." 1400 Grant St. at Green, 415-397-9475.

On my way to Le Colonial's ten-year anniversary bash last week, I had a chance to peek at the now finished ~ASUKA RAMEN~, offering primarily ramen and curry dishes on the menu. It's a small and simple space, full of two-tops, plus a counter/bar, and a few other dishes like gyoza and donburi—everything is about $10 and under. They are just getting through their soft opening, expect an expanded menu as the days go on. 883 Bush St. at Taylor, 415-567-3153.

Some special meals and deals around town: ~YOSHI'S SAN FRANCISCO~ just launched Kanpai Time, a menu served in the bar/lounge area each night. The menu includes a number of small plates and sushi, like a soft shell crab "sandwich" of lettuce-wrapped tempura crab with chile lime aioli ($7); Kurobuta pork sausage with grilled baby Yukon potatoes and honey Dijon ($6); grilled baby back ribs with sweet miso glaze ($7); and a Japanese melon "cream soda" float with vanilla gelato ($6). There will also be beer, wine, sake and cocktail specials, a sake trio tasting for $18, and wine specials. 1330 Fillmore St. at Eddy, 415-655-5600.

~MAGNOLIA GASTROPUB AND BREWERY~ not only has a new look, but a new line-up each week. On Monday nights, executive chef Brandon Jew just started offering a seasonal/locally-sourced three-course dinner, priced under $30, available until it's gone. Every Tuesday through the summer, pints are $3, all day, with the occasional exception for limited release and special beers. (Mmmmm, beer.) On Wednesdays, you can "meet the brewers" (Dave and Ben) through the summer from 6pm–9pm to talk shop, answer questions, and drink more beer. Hic. Chef Brandon may be cooking a whole pig or two throughout the summer on Wednesdays too, stand by. Thursdays, fried chicken night is back! Bwok! $18, starting at 5pm, until it runs out. 1398 Haight St. at Masonic, 415-864-7468.

I had fun hanging out with author and chef ~JOYCE GOLDSTEIN~ last week at Americano celebrating the launch of Tony and Cathy Mantuano's book, Wine Bar Food, and now here's your chance to hang with Joyce: on Saturday July 12th, she will be signing books and talking about her latest book: Mediterranean Fresh: A Compendium of Salad Meals and Mix and Match Dressings at Bi-Rite Market from 3pm–5pm. Owner/chef Sam Mogannam will be preparing a salad from the book as well. 3639 18th St. at Dolores, 415-241-9760.

East Bay folks, you'll be happy to hear the area around Bakesale Betty's and Pizzaiolo is about to get even tastier. Daniel Olivella of B44 in Belden Place is going to be opening ~BARLATA~, an easygoing Catalan tapas spot, along with his wife, his B44 partners, and his cyclist pal Chechu Rubiera. He's moving into the former Silver Lion Buffet space (AKA Biggums to some), and hopes to be up and running by November. There will be around 65 seats, where you can order small plates plus some of his famous paellas, and while seated at the ten or so seats at the bar, you'll be able to munch on a variety of pintxos (bread and toothpick treats). Beer and wine. Look for dinner to start, with brunch on the weekend. 4901 Telegraph Ave. at 49th St., Oakland.

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