October 21, 2008

October 21, 2008

Last night was the first night of food service for ~TAVERNA AVENTINE~, the new bar and eatery from Vintage 415 and Gian-Paolo Veronese in the FiDi/Jackson Square neighborhood. To recap, it’s an Old World-inspired space, with two bars serving some historic SF cocktails and wine and beer, or you can drink whatever you’ve got stashed in your private liquor locker downstairs in “The Parlor.” The look is inspired by the area’s Barbary Coast history, and the downstairs includes 150-year-old floor-to-ceiling brick walls stained by years of seawater. The seasonal California-Italian menu is geared for lunch or bar bites, with shellfish, meats, piadine, and salads. Open Mon–Fri 10am–2am, Sat 5pm–2am, closed Sun. The downstairs Parlor is open to Aventine Club Members and their guests Mon–Fri 3pm–7pm; open to the public after 7pm. 582 Washington St. at Montgomery, 415-981-1500.

And then this Wednesday October 22nd, ~ZINNIA~ is opening for dinner. Sean O’Brien’s cuisine + Jackie Patterson’s magic from behind the bar = excited diners. Open for dinner Tue–Wed 5:30pm–9:30pm, Thu–Sat 5:30pm–10:30pm, closed Sun–Mon. Bar opens nightly Tue–Sat at 5pm for cocktails. 500 Jackson St. at Montgomery, 415-956-7300.

Opening for lunch on Monday November 3rd is ~PERRY’S ON THE EMBARCADERO~, which moved from its former Sutter Street location. The new digs come with 170 seats, including 24 on its Embarcadero patio. The menus are still not final, but here are some signature items you’ll see on the lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch menus: ahi tuna tacos, grilled local artichoke, crab cakes, the famous cheeseburger, French onion soup, Cobb salad, spaghetti and meatballs, sautéed petrale sole meunière, prime steaks, eggs Blackstone, and Willie Halnan's corned beef hash. The chef is Matt Nudelman, whose background includes the Elite Café, and Perry's on Union Street and Sutter Street. Breakfast Mon–Fri 6:30am–10am; lunch Mon–Fri 11am–3pm; dinner Sun–Wed 5pm–10pm, Thu–Sat 5pm–11pm; brunch Sat–Sun 7:30am–3pm; and a bar menu is available every day from 3pm until close. 155 Steuart St. at Mission, 415-896-9155.

Over in the Sunset, ~EBISU~ will be closing temporarily on Monday November 10th for a remodel. They expect the construction to last four–six weeks, with the reopening slated for January 2nd, 2009. Once everything is finished, there will be a new upgraded sushi bar in the front of the restaurant, a complete redesign of the interior dining room, and upgrades to the kitchen. During the remodel, Hotei, Ebisu's sister restaurant across the street, will remain open and will feature the majority of Ebisu's menu; takeout and catering will also continue to be available through Hotei as well. Ebisu, 1283 9th Ave. at Irving, 415-566-1770. Hotei, 1290 9th St. at Irving, 415-753-6045.

Sushi lovers, tomorrow (October 22nd) is the day you can access some ~VERY IMPORTANT SEAFOOD CONSUMER GUIDES~ put together by three leading ocean conservation organizations: Blue Ocean Institute, Environmental Defense Fund, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The guides will rank popular sushi selections based on whether they are prepared using seafood that’s caught or farmed in ways that harm the ocean or pose a health risk to people. It’s no news that we are depleting our precious oceans, so it’s time to make informed and ocean-friendly sushi choices. As Sheila Bowman, Seafood Watch outreach manager at the Monterey Bay Aquarium says, “The reality is quite simple. If you care about the future of the oceans, you’ll avoid red-listed sushi.”

Which means popular items like bluefin tuna (hon maguro/kuro maguro) and freshwater eel (unagi) are firmly on the “red” list, as is farmed salmon (sake). These species are either overfished, farmed with aquaculture methods that pollute the ocean, or caught using methods that destroy ocean habitats or kill large amounts of other sea life. Items like wild-caught Alaska salmon (sake), farmed scallops (hotate), and Pacific halibut (hirame) are more sustainable choices, in part because they come from abundant, well-managed fisheries—or, in the case of scallops—are raised using sustainable aquaculture methods. You can download the Blue Ocean Institute sushi guides at www.blueocean.org; Environmental Defense Fund guides at www.edf.org/seafood; and Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch sushi guides at www.seafoodwatch.org.

After months of paper covering the windows, ~PIZZERIA~ has joined the local pizza revolution and opened next to the New Yorker’s Buffalo Wings place on Valencia Street. The menu is focused on thin-crust pizza, with some pasta dishes, too, but in an interesting twist, owner Juned Shaikh is Muslim, and so you won’t find any alcohol or pork on the menu. As the first-time restaurant owner stated in an email to me, “I know you’re probably thinking how do you run a Italian joint with no wine or pork, its going to be tough but I feel if our food is pure and flavorful people will come.” So no asking for a mushroom and sausage pizza with a carafe of Chianti, people. There’s a huge brick oven, and the 10" or 15" pies include classic combos, like pepperoni, pesto, or veggie, but there is also the Popeye (yes, with spinach), a tikka masala version, and a habanero and jalapeno version that comes with a heat warning. There are also some salads and basic pasta dishes ($9–$11), with your choice of sauce over spaghetti, fettuccine, or penne, plus there are a couple kinds of lasagne. For dessert, there’s house-made New York cheesecake, made with “hand-cracked eggs”—no machines are cracking those eggs, no sir! No reports yet from anyone on the food, even on Yelp, so stand by. Hours are Tue–Thu 3pm–10:30pm, Fri–Sat 11am–11:30pm, Sun 11am–10:30pm, closed Mon. 659 Valencia St. at 17th St., 415-701-7492.

Okay, I can’t believe the ~PURSE-SNATCHER~ is still on the loose. This is from a tablehopper reader who wrote in: “The infamous purse snatcher struck again last night (Friday 10/17/08) at Kokkari. A solo woman sitting at the bar was the victim. Management checked the security cameras and the description of the guy fit the previous crimes. The woman's bag was found about a block and half away with her cash and Blackberry missing.” Yuck. And I’m not sure if this next purse-snatching incident is the work of the one that’s making the rounds, but another reader wrote in to say, “My handbag was stolen from the back of my chair at an Obama fundraiser at Jillian’s in the Metreon … the thief had to get past two hostesses, and the two people running the fundraiser and a friend who was sitting opposite me.” Ladies, pllllllease watch your bags!

Love oysters? I do, especially in the winter. Coming up is ~HOG ISLAND OYSTER DAY~ at Piccino on Sunday November 2nd, from 12pm–5pm! As the announcement says, “Whether you prefer to eat them briny, cold, and raw, barbecued, or both, please join us for a special day with Hog Island Oyster Company. They’ll do the shucking and grilling, and will also be serving up Hog Island’s classic red sauce, one with butter, beer and garlic, and another made from Point Reyes Farmstead blue cheese. We’ll be pouring a thirst-quenching lineup of crisp whites and rosés, while also firing up our thin-crust pizzas and tossing a few seasonal salads. No reservations are required for this all-afternoon event. Just a love of oysters, and a good time!” Word. 801 22nd St. at Tennessee, 415-824-4224.

Craving more seafood? Okay then! Starting this Sunday October 26th, ~NETTIE’S CRAB SHACK~ will be debuting its new “Crab Feeds.” The crab feed includes a whole Dungeness crab (from Washington, until the local season kicks in), salad, cornbread, sides, and dessert, for $38 per person. Plus some butcher paper and a mallet, so you don’t have to fret about being too tidy! 2032 Union St. at Buchanan, 415-409-0300.Â

More Sunday action: ~1300 ON FILLMORE~ is launching a gospel brunch on November 2nd, and it will run the first Sunday of each month (regular brunch will follow on the other Sundays, and Saturday brunch is now discontinued). Local artist Michael Cheadle and the Future Perfect Band will perform at the brunch at two seatings; the first at 11am, the second at 1pm. There is a three-course prix-fixe meal that includes a selection of entrées, including scrambled eggs and bacon, a spinach and goat cheese frittata, cinnamon brioche French toast, or for those of you who like a savory brunch instead, there’s the barbeque shrimp n’ creamy grits, or the buttermilk-fried chicken sandwich. $39 per person, not including tax, tip, or a San Francisco health surcharge, but it does include a Bellini or mimosa, and dessert. Oh yes, and the corn bread with hot pepper jam, yum. 1300 Fillmore at Eddy, 415-771-7100.

Saturday November 1st will be a free ~PUBLIC FRUIT JAM~ with the art collective Fallen Fruit. Bring fresh fruit and clean, empty glass jars to the jam-making session in YBCA’s (Yerba Buena Center for the Arts) YAAW Lounge. Fallen Fruit will also lead a discussion about the basics of jam and jelly making, pectin and bindings, the aesthetics of sweetness, as well as the communal power of shared food and the liberation of public fruit. When the jam is done, the public is invited to take the jam home, leave it for others, or trade with other participants. Space is limited, so you might want to reserve through the YBCA box office (415-978-2787). 12pm–5pm. 701 Mission St. at 3rd St., 415-978-2787.
This event is part of ~THE GATHERERS: GREENING OUR URBAN SPHERES~, a groundbreaking exhibition of work from a culturally diverse group of artists, running through January 11th, 2009. And on Tuesday November 11th, from 6pm–8pm, YBCA is hosting a Community Conversation titled “What does it mean to be green?” which will explore the complexities and contradictions around greening urban environments (also free). Visit www.ybca.org for a full list of programs.

It’s fall, which means sweaters and scarves, and it also means the Ferry Building Marketplace is gearing up to celebrate its ~SIXTH ANNUAL HARVEST FESTIVAL~. The festival kicks off this Friday October 24th with an organic wine and beer tasting from 4pm–8pm. Ferry Building food vendors will pair with visiting organic vintners, distilleries, and breweries to offer sample snacks and accompaniments, many made with certified organic ingredients. Tickets are $25 at the door for ten tastes. The usual Saturday action will also include an apple cider pressing, an heirloom apple tasting, wool spinning, and butter-making demos. Inside the Marketplace, merchants will offer special seasonal tastings and products, plus there’s wine and a reading with writer Mort Rosenblum and confectioner Michael Recchiuti at Book Passage at 4pm. Sunday in the Marketplace will feature live music by folk musician Jackie Jones, gypsy jazz music by Golden Gate Hot Club, and communal tables decorated with fall foliage where visitors can enjoy their seasonal purchases. There will also be some kiddie-friendly activities, like the Barnyard by the Bay Petting Zoo, and face painting. For more info on Harvest Festival events, visit www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com. Market St. at the Embarcadero.

CookEatShare.com just launched its first annual ~THANKSGIVING RECIPE CONTEST~, and users are invited to submit what they think are their most winning Thanksgiving recipes to be voted on by other members of the CookEatShare community. On Tuesday November 11th, the eight top recipes will be brought to San Francisco and prepared by local Bay Area chefs at Brick Restaurant for a tasting and judging. The event will run from 5pm–8pm, and the panel will include chef Alex Marsh of Brick and Solstice restaurants, Nate Appleman of A16 and SPQR, and Jeremy Cheng from Town, along with other members of the Nor Cal culinary community. The winners of the recipe contest will receive a feature on the homepage of CookEatShare.com, and contest partner KitchenAid has donated some prizes. Submit your family’s stuffing recipe, yo!

Down in San Mateo, this Friday October 24th, the Festa Foundation will be hosting ~THE CRUSH~, a night of food, wine, and music at the San Mateo Elk's Club. (The Festa Foundation is a local non-profit organization funding Bay Area groups that help people with developmental disabilities.) This fundraising event will feature local award-winning homemade and commercial wines, a buffet from local food purveyors, a silent auction, and live music. Here’s your chance to mingle with some fellow Peninsula garagistes! 6pm–10pm. $45 at the door. 229 West 20th Ave., San Mateo, 650-438-3898.