January 6, 2009

January 6, 2009

A tablehopper reader gave me the head’s up that Joanna Karlinsky and Victoria Smiser’s six-restaurant ~FOOD COURT INSIDE THE JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER OF SAN FRANCISCO~ is now up and running—they opened their doors on New Year’s Day. And you thought opening one restaurant was tough—imagine six! The reader said, “Some of the ordered food items are very tasty: beef chili with red beans, Meetinghouse's breakfast biscuits with Meyer lemon curd and mudslides…” Sounds like a good start to me.

Here’s a recap of everything on offer:
CONFECTIONS BAKERY has daily breakfast pastries, everyday desserts, cakes for special occasions, childhood favorites, classic seasonal fruit selections, holiday treats, house-made candies and chocolates, roasted-seasoned nuts, and nut barks.
LULU DRINKS offers coffee from the oldest San Francisco roaster: Freed, Teller & Freed, with a “brewed by the cup” service, plus hand-made incidental ingredients, like caramel sauces and marshmallows. There will also be Harney & Sons Teas, the only American teas used by the British Royal family, and there are plans to bring the old-fashioned New York egg cream back into style. There are also fresh-squeezed juices and vegetable blends, and a small selection of wine, beer, and specialty cocktails (including nonalcoholic selections).
PRESSED will serve upscale, hot-pressed cheese sandwiches, with the option of meaty additions.
EMMA PEEL’S PIZZA PIE is a (mostly) organic, upscale pizza-to-go and delivery service.
JO-JO-TO-GO offers meals to take home or to be eaten on premise, plus a gourmet salad bar with more than just greens—there are raw vegetables; tuna, egg, and chicken salads; low-fat bean and grain salads; hummus; baba ghannoush; Japanese maki; Chinese dim sum; and cheeses.
LUCKY DAWG GOURMET ICE CREAM AND FROZEN YOGURT features top-notch ingredients in house-made frozen yogurt, ice creams, and sorbets. There is an array of toppings made daily from scratch, including Meetinghouse Fudge Sauce. Ice cream sandwiches and cakes round out the offerings.
The Food Court at the JCCSF is open from 7am–7:30pm. 3200 California St. at Presidio.

A fried chicken place is returning to the Fillmore. And not just any fried chicken, but chicken and waffles. Hello. And in the Powell’s space, no less. Opening (hopefully) by mid-March will be ~GUSSIE’S CHICKEN AND WAFFLES~, a restaurant from Michele Wilson that she named after her grandmother. Wilson was part of the original team that opened the first Nor Cal franchise of Los Angeles’s famed Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘n Waffles (I was a frequent visitor of the Pico location when I lived in LA 15 years ago—this is what happens when you date a guy from Kentucky). So you can say she knows chicken. And waffles. Wilson is no longer involved with Roscoe’s—she has most recently been catering and doing a variety of cooking appearances, but definitely thinks San Francisco needs some chicken and waffles. I have to agree with her.

She is making some changes to the Powell’s space, including exchanging the carpet for tile, swapping the windows into café-style sliding windows that will open, and is adding sidewalk seating. On the menu: homey and Southern comfort food that’s meant to be casual and priced right, and everything will be made fresh and from scratch, with no frozen items. There will also be some seafood, and vegan and vegetarian items. As for the chicken, it will be a quality product, and there will be waffles like a sweet potato version, and a cornmeal one, all topped with homemade syrup. Can’t wait. 1521 Eddy St. at Fillmore.

The Elite Café’s owner, Peter Snyderman, is partnering with Olivier Azancot and Eric Klein of B44, Plouf, and Cafe Bastille to open ~DISTRICT GRILL~ in the Voda Vodka Bar space, which will probably close in February when escrow is all wrapped up. The location originally had a kitchen, so the construction shouldn’t take too long—they are planning to open in mid-April. Some booths and tall cocktail tables will be going in, and cork floors might be installed as well. The contemporary American bistro menu will feature lunch-friendly (and wallet-friendly) items like skirt steak salad and sandwiches (also good to go), and the evening will bring a three-course prix-fixe menu with options. Lunch and dinner will be served Monday–Friday, with dinner additionally served on Saturday nights. Since there is full liquor, there will be a lounge space where guests can easily chillax over an after-work drink, plus there will be outdoor seating, possibly up to 34 seats in all. Elite’s executive chef, Jerry Mendoza, will oversee both kitchens, working closely with executive sous chefs and sous chefs at the Elite and District Grill. 56 Belden Pl. at Bush.

Changes over at ~MAGNOLIA~: chef Brandon Jew has departed, and sous chef Ronnie New is the, uh, new chef! He came to SF from New Orleans four years ago (let’s see if a little NOLA flair starts appearing on the menu), and has cooked at Le Petit Robert, Bar Crudo, and Range. Backing him up in the sous chef department in a couple weeks will be Danny Bowien and David Cabello of Serpentine. 1398 Haight St. at Masonic, 415-864-7468.

Opening next Wednesday January 14th in the Soma Grand is Charles Phan’s (Slanted Door) Chinese noodle bar and lounge: ~HEAVEN’S DOG~. The master of the noodles (and other menu items) is Andy Wai, most recently at Yank Sing—which means there might be some dumplings added to the menu on the weekends! Heaven’s Dog will be open for dinner to start, with lunch following soon thereafter. And as a reminder, a big highlight is the bar program, with 12 or so cocktails from bar manager Erik Adkins, featuring quality ice made from a special ice-making machine, plus a number of local favorite bartenders are also slated to take turns behind the stick. Olle Lundberg designed the space, with about 100 seats in all. The bar/lounge area has a long bar made of Douglas fir (over 20 feet long), plus cork walls and an orange color scheme, while the noodle shop features white tiles. The vibe in the evening will be a bit darker/intimate, plus there will be some DJ action. 1160 Mission St. at 7th St.

Hello co-caffeinated ones. Hello! Hi! How you doin’?! Hey! Hi! ~FOUR BARREL COFFEE~ is now roasting their own coffee, and by next week, all the coffee that’s available will be their own doing! There will be 13 kinds, and probably up to 20 by month’s end. Owner Jeremy Tooker was raving about the roaster they just installed, saying it’s amazing, and has never had so much control over the roasting process. Be sure to swing by and check out their handiwork! 375 Valencia St. at 15th St., 415-252-0800.

A while back, there was a liquor license change for ~LAUREL’S CUBAN RESTAURANT~ in Hayes Valley, announcing ~OTORO~ as the new tenant. Laurel’s windows are now papered over, so the change seems to be underway. No idea about the details of this new business yet. Anyone? If it is in fact Japanese, it seems to be trying to fit in with the duo of existing Hayes Valley Japanese restaurants that end in “o.” 205 Oak St. at Gough.

It’s sadly official: ~MISTRAL ROTISSERIE~ in the Ferry Building has closed after lease negotiations failed to pan out, plus some other tenancy issues too complicated to go into. I know a lot of folks will miss Fabrice and Betty’s baste-a-riffic food—they are considering trying to raise money to resuscitate Mistral in a future location. Best of luck to them in their future ventures.

In a major upset, the El Norteño taco truck wins ~BURRITO EATER’S 2008 SLAB SCRUM~! Dude. Check out the stats on the site! Time for me to get some bail bonds and a burrito.

Another upset, well, an item that is sure to upset some folks: according to this Craigslist ad, it seems like the owner of ~PALACE STEAK HOUSE~ really is trying to retire. 3047 Mission St. at 26th St., 415-647-2011.

In case you were wondering: ~MITCHELL’S ICE CREAM~ is not closed for good, just for some repainting and such until their reopening date of Monday January 25th! So no more eggnog ice cream for you this season, or for me… 688 San Jose Ave. at 29th St., 415-648-2300.

Fans of the ~SPRUCE~ burger (it’s meaty magic) and Burgundy will be happy to know the restaurant has decided to run the Burgers & Burgundy program indefinitely. On Sunday nights, you can take your pick from a selection of boutique red Burgundies, including varietals not regularly available by the bottle. The burger is $14, along with three different selections of Burgundy available at $12, $25, and $50. (A flight of all three is also available for $40. Hic.) Feeling decadent? Guests may choose to “spruce” up their burger by adding house-made pancetta for $3, or seared foie gras for $13. 3640 Sacramento St. at Spruce, 415-931-5100.

(Oh, and wild man Gary Pisoni will be at Spruce for the first of their monthly winemaker dinners on Monday January 12th. The five-course menu and pairings are $135—call 415-931-5100 to reserve your spot.)

All kinds of cool stuff happening at ~PICCINO~, starting with Mariquita Farm Night this Thursday January 8th from 5pm–7pm, which will now be a monthly occurrence. The second Hog Island Oyster Day is this Sunday January 11th from noon–5pm, with double the number of briny little beauties—mmmmm, cold-weather oysters! They will also be pouring some wines and local microbrews, while firing up pizzas and tossing a few seasonal salads. And then Piccino is taking a break from January 12th–14th—but the coffee bar will stay open from 7am–5pm.

For those of you missing Stuart Brioza of Rubicon’s cooking (like me), he will be cooking a special dinner at Piccino “To Celebrate The Light of Winter” on Sunday January 25th at 6pm. As Stuart said, “Cold water shellfish, citrus, braised greens and meats, mushrooms, root vegetables, smoked foods, preserves and the like, these are the bounty for me that truly sing.” No price yet, but you can reserve your seats by contacting Wayne at 415-350-5157.

So, was your New Year’s resolution to cook more as well? Well then, this should interest you. My friend James Stolich, who some may know from his ~COOK WITH JAMES DINNERS~, is now doing group cooking classes every Tuesday and Thursday from 7pm–10pm. The price is $50 per person, including wine. Here are some upcoming classes: tonight (Tuesday the 6th) is gnocchi; Tuesday the 13th is flatbread pizza; and Thursday the 15th is polpettini Napoletani (Neapolitan meatballs)—learn the secret to making them light! Gnocchi night returns on Tuesday the 20th in case you want to learn how to make them fluffy (dinner includes a salad of radicchio and mint). And if you don’t feel like cooking at all, Saturday the 17th is a CookWithJames supper club dinner, with kale soup, pasta, seafood, braised boar shoulder, and dessert for $100 per person (guests bring wine). Photos from the past week’s cooking classes can be found on the CWJ Facebook fan page. Buon appetito! Email him at james [at] stolich [dot] com to sign up and learn more.

More cookin’ news: one of my favorite how-to cooks, ~MARK BITTMAN~, will be in town at Book Passage on Monday January 12th to talk about Food Matters: A Guide To Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes ($24). As the announcement says, “From the award-winning guru of culinary simplicity and author of the bestselling How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian comes a plan for responsible eating that’s as good for the planet as it is for the waistline.” 6pm. Details on how to buy an autographed book here. 1 Ferry Building, #42, 415-835-1020.

Do you take photos of your food? I know, I think I have more pics of food than friends in my iPhoto archive. Anyway. Former New York Times food photographer Lou Manna just announced a ~FUN PHOTO CONTEST~ called “Best Looking Food of 2009.” Participants are asked to hit their kitchens, whip up some eye-catching dishes, snap photographs, and the winning shot will be used as the cover art for Lou’s forthcoming second book, More Digital Food Photography. The winner will also walk away with a bag of food- and photography-related goodies. You can check out Lou in a brief video about the contest on YouTube. For more contest info, log on to DigitalFoodPhotos.com/blog.

Ready for some mmmmmeat? Chris Cosentino at ~INCANTO~ is launching a new dinner concept called "Leg of Beast"—it’s a version of his whole beast dinners, but made accessible for smaller groups. For $200, six–eight people can reserve an entire leg of beef with all its components (shank, marrow bone, and tendon in a salad with cannellini beans). The cost is exclusive of tax, tip, apps, and dessert (if you have room for them!). 1550 Church St. at Duncan, 415-641-4500.

Wait, you want more meat? Jeez. You got it. Laïola is hosting a ~PIG AND CRAB AND WINE FEAST~ on Wednesday January 14th, with Liz and Markus Bokisch of Bokisch Vineyards. Guests will be served five Spanish varietal wines, passed tapas (including bacon-wrapped dates with house-made chorizo and chickpea croquetas), spicy, grilled Dungeness crab (get your napkins ready), and spit-roasted whole pig. Plus a chocolate duel for dessert. Seats are $95—call 415-346-5641 to make reservations. More happenings at Laïola: every Monday is paella Monday, with a salad, paella, and churros and hot chocolate for $25; and then there is $9 Tuesdays, when everything on the menu is at most $9 on Tuesdays. Oh yeah, and there’s a new lamb burger, with harissa aioli and pickled onions, all on an Acme bun for $9 that also sounds mighty fine. 2031 Chestnut St. at Fillmore, 415-346-5641.

Did all this meat freak you out? Okay, I normally don’t cover wine country in the ‘hopper, but I had to share: the fabulous ~UBUNTU~ in Napa is offering a special three-course dinner for $30 per person Monday through Thursday through January 18th. Guests can choose any three courses for $30, with each additional course offered at $10 per person. Want all savory? Or two dessert, and one savory? Go for it! (Please note: Ubuntu will be closed for their winter break January 19th–February 2nd). 1140 Main St., Napa, 707-251-5656.

There will be an ~A16 FOOD + WINE BOOK SIGNING~ at Chez Panisse with Nate Appleman and Shelley Lindgren on Wednesday January 14th. Chez Panisse Café will be serving an A16-inspired menu, along with a special wine selection from the Campania region. Book signing is from 5pm–9:30pm. For reservations or more info, call the restaurant at 510-548-5525 or the café at 510-548-5049.

Over at the Pasta Shop in Berkeley, California artisan cheesemakers will be ~SAMPLING THEIR CHEESES WITH AUTHOR CLARK WOLF~, who will be discussing and signing his new book: AMERICAN CHEESES: The Best Regional, Artisan, and Farmhouse Cheeses, Who Makes Them, and Where to Find Them on Friday January 16th from 6pm–7:30pm. Participating cheesemakers include: Achadinha Cheese, Bellwether Farms, Bravo Farms, Bubalis Bubalus, Cowgirl Creamery, Cypress Grove, Fiscalini, Franklin Peluso, Laura Chenel, Marin French, Point Reyes, Redwood Hill, Sadie Kendall, Three Sisters, Vella Cheese, and Winchester Cheese. RSVP for free admission by calling 510-250-6004 or email events [at] pastashop [dot] net (otherwise the event is $10 at the door). Net proceeds benefit the California Artisan Cheese Guild. 1786 Fourth St., Berkeley, 510 250-6004.

Coinciding with this book signing, ~CAFÉ ROUGE~, next door, will offer special menu items featuring twelve California artisan cheeses, January 14th–18th. 1782 4th St. at Virginia, Berkeley, 510-525-1440.

And now this is in the unconfirmed department since ~BURMA SUPERSTAR~ didn’t get back to me in time, but a star tablehopper reader writes in: “Here is a bit of news in my hood (Oakland’s hip Temescal District) that would be great to let folks know about: Horseshoe, an American food restaurant at 4721 Telegraph, apparently is changing hands and being bought by Burma Superstar. There’s also word that ~AUNT MARY’S CAFÉ~, an American/Southern restaurant down the street on Telegraph will soon begin serving dinner to pick up the slack. Although Horseshoe was a pretty good restaurant, it never really caught on. Hopefully Burma Superstar will be as successful as the one on Clement Street.” Aunt Mary’s said they are considering adding dinner service, but nothing is confirmed yet. Will let you know when I get some confirmations about the what, when, and where for Burma Superstar!