November 11, 2008

November 11, 2008

Okay, first things first: make room on your TiVo because this week is the first episode of ~TOP CHEF—SEASON FIVE~! Tune in this Wednesday night at 10pm on Bravo and watch our sole SF contestant, Jamie Lauren of Absinthe, who is in it to win it! Go Jamie!

Another thing to keep your ears on for: Molly Watson of Sunset magazine and co-host Emily Wilson are airing their pilot show of ~I'D EAT THAT~, a new half-hour food-oriented show on KALW (91.7 FM) in San Francisco. The first show is about the ethics of being a carnivore, with guests Bonnie Powell of Clark Summit Meat CSA and and chef Paul Canales of Oliveto. It airs on Sunday November 23rd at 2:30pm, and again on Wednesday November 26th at 7pm. KALW streams its shows online at, so you don’t even have to live in SF to listen. Check it out! Â

A tablehopper reader wrote in to tell me that Sumi of ~MA TANTE SUMI~ is retiring and closing her petite restaurant after 24 years of business in the Castro. I spoke with the kind Sumi Hirose, and she confirmed that it’s true. She said, “I am over 65 and need to retire from the restaurant.” Her retirement is well earned, to say the least. Her last day at SUMI is December 6th, so be sure to swing by and say thanks and farewell between now and then. As for the new tenant, the folks from Sushi Ko in Berkeley will be remodeling the space, and then reopening in late December or early January as the 30-seat Sumi Sushi, the name paying homage to Sumi’s quarter century in the neighborhood. Sumi Sushi will be open for dinner to start, then weekend lunch, and eventually lunch during the week. 4243 18th St. at Diamond, 415-626-7864.

I got a chance to check out the new ~GITANE~ (opening tonight!) at a preview dinner last week, and let me tell you, there is nothing in the City like it! I went nuts for the colorful, sexy, retro décor by Charles Doell of Mr. Important—I felt like I was in Barcelona, or a hip Parisian boîte. (You can check out pics of the swank décor and more here.) Highlights include chef Lisa Eyherabide’s bacon bon bons (prunes stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in smoked bacon) and sardines en escabèche (sardines on puff pastry with tomato jam), plus the Belmont Breeze cocktail by Dominic Venegas with Four Roses bourbon, amontillado sherry, and orange and pomegranate juices—a bunch of the drinks have little touches of sherry. This place is built for a chic date night out (but not cheap and chic—the little dishes and drinks will add up), and with the open-until-midnight kitchen hours, it will be the perfect spot for a late-night pizza and a drink, or glass of wine off of Sean Diggins’ list. There will also be some outdoor seating in the alley, but the interior is where it’s at. Dinner will be served Tue–Sat from 5:30pm–midnight; the bar will stay open until 1am. 6 Claude Ln. between Bush and Sutter at Kearny, 415-788-6686.

Meanwhile, over in SoMa, ~MEDICI LOUNGE~ has moved out of their soft opening mode, and are now officially up and running, serving a rotating menu of Italian dishes and hand-crafted cocktails under the direction of Sierra Zimei (Seasons Bar), like the Under The Tuscan Sun (limoncello, Grand Marnier, basil, grapefruit juice, sea salt, prosecco). Happy hour is Tue–Sat 4pm–6pm, with discounts on beer, wine, cocktails, and there’s a special appetizer menu. Lunch and brunch will be coming in the next month. Open Tue–Sun at 4pm, closed on Mondays. 299 9th St. at Folsom, 415-863-MEDI (6334).

~CRAVE~ has opened in the Upper Polk, in the former Teavana space. The quick-casual spot is from John Lamkin and Lynn Ramsey of Street, serving breakfast, lunch, and an early dinner, all made with seasonal and quality ingredients. To recap from one of my earlier reports, the menu will include breakfast faves like egg sandwiches, house-made scones, and breakfast burritos, and lunch will bring some soups, salads, and tasty sandwiches (hello Reuben) that will highlight slow-roasted meats and fish. Dinner will be heartier, and some vegetarian fare will also be available—dishes will span from New American to Latin flair. Coffee is from Ritual Roasters. They’re still in soft opening mode, so things aren’t exactly at 100% yet. Hours are 7am–7pm. 2164 Polk St. at Vallejo, 415-440-3663.

Eater has been tracking the closure and potential new locations for ~CAFÉ PRAGUE~, most recently located at 584 Pacific Avenue. According to permits, Café Prague is planning to reopen in the Financial District at 424 Merchant Street AND is also listed on a permit in the old Country Station Sushi space at 2140 Mission St. Will see how this maps out, literally.

Quick update on the ~WASHBAG~: looks like they hit some building department snags, so now we’re looking at 2009 for the opening. Stand by… 1707 Powell St. at Columbus.

Meanwhile, when I was visiting my buddy John at Area on Jackson and Columbus, we noticed work is finally underway at ~PICKLES~, the old Clown Alley. Tom Duffy (of Myth) is behind the project—the 50-year-old restaurant is currently getting remodeled (the outdoor patio is getting tricked out with an outdoor fireplace and a retractable awning), and very optimistically opening in mid-December. The final menu isn’t worked out just yet, but gourmet burgers, Chicago-style hot dogs, and frozen custard are in the plans. I also remember when I originally spoke with Duffy about the project earlier in the year that late nights on the weekends were also in the works. Looks like Jackson Square is undergoing its own little renaissance: Zinnia, Taverna Aventine, and in 2009, Quince. 42 Columbus Ave. at Jackson.

Oh, and it’s time to clarify a few things about the ~MELISSA PERELLO MONDAY NIGHT DINNERS~ at Sebo. First, they are not every Monday: the specific Monday dates will be announced via the mailing list, and only after the dates are announced is when you can then ask for a reservation. You can find out about future Monday dates by signing up for the mailing list at monday_night [at] me [dot] com.

So, I’ve got (some) of your Monday nights covered. But what about Sunday night? Well, starting at ~LOCAL KITCHEN & WINE MERCHANT~ is Neighborhood Night, with all-you-can-eat pizza for $12.95 (kids 12 and under for only $6.95) on Sunday nights. There’s always all-you-can-eat at Goat Hill Pizza in Potrero on Mondays, in case you want even morrrrrre pizzzzzzzza, oinkety oink! 330 1st St. at Folsom, 415-777-4200.

More deals around town: ~SOUTH~ has launched a Recession Concession prix-fixe menu, running from now until December 1st. There is a $24 lunch menu, and dinner is $34, and either meal includes a glass of sparkling wine. You can read up on the menu specifics here. 330 Townsend St., Ste. 101 at 4th St., 415-974-5599.

Vegetarians, meanwhile, can head to ~MILLENNIUM~ for the Frugal Foodie menu, a three-course prix fixe menu available Sunday–Wednesday for $38 per person (excludes tax and gratuity), with your choice of dishes off the regular menu, plus there’s a $12 optional wine pairing. 580 Geary St. at Jones, 415-345-3900.

And now, it’s time for your exotic ingredients update!

First up, I got word that ~AME~ restaurant in The St. Regis San Francisco is featuring Kona Coast abalone (Japanese Ezo), a rare delicacy shipped live—Ame is the only restaurant in the U.S. to get this fresh abalone straight from the big island of Kona. Executive chef Greg Dunmore is currently offering sautéed Ezo abalone in yuzu kosho butter sauce with shimeji mushrooms and shishito peppers for $17. 689 Mission St. at 3rd St., 415-284-4040.

Then at ~FIFTH FLOOR~, chef Jennie Lorenzo has put together a special November game menu that includes cheuvreuil (loin of venison, fennel, and venison "croustillant," roasted salsify, juniper berry-citrus jus), pintade (truffle-braised hen in "fata" paper, Brussels sprouts and cranberries confit, truffle bouillon), and sanglier (wild boar "pot pie" with a mélange of mushrooms, celeriac remoulade). Dishes range from $28–$40. Hotel Palomar, 12 4th St. at Market, 415-348-1555.

~BAR BAMBINO~ is hosting a wild fowl dinner this Sunday November 16th. For $95 per person, you can feast on their house-made duck breast prosciutto, a rich game bird sugo over fresh pasta, and wild fowl involtini. The wines will be rich and earthy to match. Email reservations [at] barbambino [dot] com or call 415-701-8466 to reserve your spot. 2931 16th St. at South Van Ness.

Over at ~INCANTO~, starting this Thursday November 13th through December 20th, every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night you can order the Battle Offal dinner, the menu chef Cosentino recently featured on Iron Chef: America. Are you ready for some lamb heart tartare, and turf & surf (tripe and clam)? You can read the entire menu here. Just be sure to note a minimum of one week's advance reservation is required. 1550 Church St. at Duncan, 415-641-4500.

I thought this sounded cool: ~MASA’S RESTAURANT~ is running a “Young Chefs” event, featuring a nine-course menu crafted by executive chef Gregory Short’s up-and-coming kitchen team. The Young Chefs menu will be available from Tuesday November 18th through Saturday November 22nd. The cost for the nine-course menu will be $150, and will feature wine pairings by Master Sommelier Alan Murray for $99. Contact the restaurant to learn all about the beast of a menu—it reads like quite the tour de force. 648 Bush St. at Stockton, 415-989-7154.