March 24, 2009

March 24, 2009

Congrats to the official ~JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION AWARD~ local restaurant nominees, including Boulevard for Outstanding Restaurant; Nate Appleman (A16, SPQR) for Rising Star Chef; and the Best Chefs in America/Pacific candidates: Jeremy Fox (Ubuntu, Napa), Douglas Keane (Cyrus, Healdsburg), Loretta Keller (Coco500), David Kinch (Manresa, Los Gatos),and Daniel Patterson (Coi). Yank Sing was given the nod for an “America’s Classics” award. The awards ceremony and gala reception will take place on Monday May 4th. You can read up on all the award candidates here.

Now open in Hayes Valley is ~CAFÉ ALTANO~, the place I mentioned that was taking over the former Modern Tea space. On the menu: simple and straightforward Mediterranean-inspired fare (pasta, pizza, panini, and more). Lunch and dinner. 602 Hayes St. at Laguna, 415-252-1200.

UrbanDaddy noted the opening of ~MORAK LOUNGE~, a new hookah bar and lounge next to the Pork Store in the Mission. According to the post, there’s a heated patio, communal leather sofas, and “traditional Middle Eastern snacks like hummus, baba ghanoush and beef skewers,” plus a variety of “hand-mixed flavors” for the hookah. Eater also highlighted that for now the lounge opens at 8pm on the weekends only. 3126 16th St. at Valencia, 415-626-5523.

~E&O TRADING COMPANY’S~ new executive chef, Arnold Eric Wong (former chef-owner of Eos Restaurant & Wine Bar in Cole Valley and Bacar in SOMA) will debut his brand-new menu of contemporary Asian-inspired fare next Tuesday March 31st at the San Francisco outpost. His new menu highlights local, organic, and sustainable ingredients whenever possible. 314 Sutter St. at Grant, 415-693-0303.

Speaking of ~BACAR~, after a flurry of gossip last week about Bernie and Ruth Madoff’s ties to the restaurant, I got this note of clarification from some folks at the restaurant: “Multiple press affiliates announced … that the Madoffs were major investors of Bacar, and some went so far as to say that we had been subjected to seizure by the FBI. In actuality, Ruth Madoff, invested a 2.5 percent stake in Bacar in 1999. In January 2007 another investor, Jon Jackson, bought out Ruth Madoff shares. She has no other financial connection with the restaurant, or with Bacar Investments LLC, which operates Bacar. Bacar is cooperating with the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of New [sic] to have the record officially cleared.”

In case you wanted to see more about ~MIDI~ (it opened on Friday), you can check out a video of it here. 185 Sutter St. at Kearny, 415-835-6400.

Moving into the 12 Galaxies space in the Mission will be the ~BLUE MACAW~, a restaurant, bar, and club with a focus on international music. I will have more details in a few weeks, but the opening is slated for April or May. 2565 Mission St. at 22nd St.

Also got more info about the ~PARKSIDE TAVERN~ project that’s moving into the former ~RICK'S ALOHA CAFÉ~. Larry Doyle, the chef at Johnny Foley's Irish House in Union Square is going to open a "food-driven" neighborhood tavern in the space. There was an issue that was holding up ABC approval, but it’s been resolved and the tavern is moving forward. Doyle also mentioned there are plans for a farmers’ market in the Sunset, so that’s good news. That’s all for now, stand by for more details soon. 1940 Taraval St. at 29th Ave.

In the Inner Sunset, a tablehopper reader noted that ~SUKHOTHAI~ on 9th and Irving closed and is becoming “Saigon Noodle House,” while a post on Yelp said it’s going to be called “Thai Noodle Cafe.” Time will tell. 1319 9th Ave. at Irving.

Another closure: the North Beach location of ~LA PARRILLA GRILL~ has shuttered. 279 Columbus Ave. at Broadway.

Mark my words, ~2009 IS GOING TO BE THE YEAR OF THE HOT DOG~. We have Absinthe coming out of the gates with their house-made wonder (scroll down to “upward dog”), the gamey dogs at Broken Record, and how timely, a reader alerted me to Bratwurst Thursdays at Paragon, offering a Fat Tire Ale, house-made bratwurst sandwich, fries, sauerkraut, and beer mustard for $13. Starts at 5pm. 701 Second St. at Townsend, 415-537-9020.

(FYI, Paragon is also serving up some smoky BBQ on Wednesdays, including ribs, chicken, pulled pork, and tri-tip.)

Another BBQ-related sidebar: this Saturday at ~MISSION STREET FOOD~, you can preview some of the dishes chef Charlie Kleinman will be serving at Wexler’s, the upcoming upscale BBQ restaurant project in the old Les Amis space in FiDi.

Back on the dogs: construction is officially underway for a doghouse (read: small restaurant and retail location) for ~LET'S BE FRANK~, the purveyor of grass-fed beef hot dogs and family-farmed pork brats that you can find at the ballpark on game days. The (small) space will open in the former Hahn’s Hibachi, and Cass Calder Smith is the architect. Let's Be Frank on Steiner will be open daily, and will be introducing a new spicy "Hot Dog" and a "Not Dog" (a vegan variation), plus house-made toppings and sides, like grass-fed beef chili made with heirloom beans (from Rancho Gordo), local beers, and wines. There will also be retail packages of all their dogs, plus "party packs" for parties of 4 to 140. The target opening date is the beginning of April. 3318 Steiner St. at Chestnut.

Also in the ballpark: since the local restaurant chain Compadres went out of business in December, ~TRES AGAVES~ will be taking over their three food stands at AT&T Park this season. On the menu: a bacon-wrapped hot dog with chipotle mayo in a lobster roll bun; ballpark nachos with real cheese sauce, chopped carnitas, and Tequila-marinated jalapeños; and Jaliscan street-style tacos. Everything will be $5.50–$9.50. Pre-season vs. A’s starts Thursday April 2nd, and opening day is Tuesday April 7th.

Another thing on the rise: killer sandwiches! A tablehopper reader (and chef) who knows how much I love a quality sandwich wrote in to tell me about ~KITCHENETTE SF~ in Dogpatch, a lunchtime offshoot from caterer Living Room Events. You can swing by to pick up a sandwich from Monday through Friday, 11:30am–1:30pm. What’s on the menu? Check out the site each day for a full-tilt slobber fest. You know this sandwich had to have been amazing: house ‘corned’ Marin Sun Farm brisket sandwich with braised cabbage, apple farm apples, and caraway on an Acme roll with mustardy potato salad, $8. I am hoping their fried chicken version will be enough to sate my Bakesale Betty sandwich cravings. Ingredients are organic and top-notch. Cash only, and supplies are limited, so when they are gone, they are gone, yo. Just look for the garage door at 958 Illinois Street in the American Industrial Center.

Some FiDi workers know about ~THE CHILL CAFÉ~ for picking up frozen yogurt and desserts, but you might also want to know this spot has started serving Vietnamese-style banh mi sandwiches for lunch that highlight owner Trang Nguyen's family recipes. Flavors include ham with pate, and chicken or tofu with house-made lemongrass seasoning ($5.50 each). I’m gonna try to check it out this week. 125 Kearny St. at Post, 415-433-1233.

Drum roll please… It’s time for your weekly meal deal update:

I have never eaten at ~PIAZZA PELLEGRINI~, but with this kind of deal, I’d say it’s a good time to check it out. For the month of March, “The Frugalisto” menu for two includes a bottle of red or white house wine, antipasti to share, a choice of one of the chef’s three specialty entrées, and dessert for two. All for just $20 per person. Like, whoa. This special is offered daily from 11am–7pm through the end of March. 659 Columbus Ave. at Washington Square Park, 415-397-7355.

At ~MORTY'S DELICATESSEN~ on Tuesdays, you can get a Reuben and PBR for $7 (and woohoo, the Reuben here roxx). There’s also spaghetti and meatballs on Thursdays, fish fry Fridays, and some inexpensive wine specials to go with ’em. Now open until 8pm Mon–Thu, and until 6pm on Fridays. I also heard the owner Tim is starting to show local artists’ work on a monthly basis and is looking for some restaurant/artist folks who might be interested in hanging their work. 280 Golden Gate Ave. at Hyde, 415-567-3354.

All the fancier places are getting in on the meal deals too: ~CAMPTON PLACE~ just kicked off The Stimulus Menu, a three-course nightly dinner for $45. The special begins tonight. 340 Stockton St. at Sutter 415-781-5555.

Speaking of fine dining, and why we need it to exist, anyone who loves to dine out should check out this Food & Wine article, ~SHOULD FINE DINING DIE?~

Gotta love some free, and we gotta love our local bookstores. This Thursday March 26th, Mark Caro, the author of The Foie Gras Wars, will be giving a talk and book signing at ~OMNIVORE BOOKS~ from 6pm–7pm. And on Saturday March 28th, Nicolette Niman (Bill Niman's vegetarian wife) will be giving a talk and signing her book, Righteous Porkchop, from 3pm–4pm. I’d also recommend you get a ticket to this before it fills up: on Monday June 22nd, Michael Pollan will be giving a talk to a limited audience of 40 people. It’s a fundraiser for the Chez Panisse Foundation; tickets are $40 per person and include a signed copy of In Defense of Food. It should be a great evening in an intimate setting. 6pm–8pm. Check out the entire line-up of authors and times here. 3885A Cesar Chavez St. at Church, 415-282-4712.

Support your local bookstore so they don’t end up like the beloved ~COOK'S LIBRARY~ in Los Angeles, which is sadly closing its doors after 20 years in business. Apparently they're going to liquidate their stock and close up in six weeks, with the last day scheduled for April 30th. Sigh.

Another upcoming book-related event is a ~"NO-COOK" COOKING DEMO AND TALK WITH FOOD BLOGGER AMY SHERMAN~ at the Larkspur Library. She'll be talking about how she got started in food writing and what it was like to write a cookbook, and demonstrating four very easy appetizer recipes, including one from her latest book, New Flavors for Appetizers. A benefit for the library, $10 gets you tastes of each of the appetizers plus St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc or Bionade, an organic non-alcoholic beverage. The event is April 4th, 4:30pm–6:30pm at the Larkspur Library. Call the library at 415-927-5005 to reserve your spot. 400 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur.

Also that day (Saturday April 4th), one of Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini's favorite films, ~MR. BENE GOES TO ITALY~, will be screened at the Delancey Street Theater. Here’s more: “Benedito Batista da Silva, 60 years old, is considered an authority when it comes to manioc flour production in the Brazilian Pará State, deep within the Amazon. This documentary shows his trip from Bragança to Turin and back home. The encounter of different cultures, of small-scale farmers from all over the world and the enchantment of coming into contact with European culture blends with the profound emotional bond Mr. Bené forges with his Italian host family.” Slow Food Rio leaders Teresa Corção and Margarida Nogueira will be present for the screening. The evening begins at 6:30pm with a screening and panel discussion, followed by a reception from 8pm–9pm. Tapas will be available at the reception and wine pours at an additional charge. $15. Buy tickets here. Delancey Street Theater, 600 Embarcadero St.

Want to brush up on your cooking skills? There are a variety of ~COOK WITH JAMES~ classes coming up, like how to make egg pappardelle noodles on Tuesday March 31st, or how to make the perfect roast chicken and Caesar salad on Wednesday April 8th. $65/person and includes wine. Check out all the upcoming classes here, including details on how to enter to win a Breville iKon LCD blender this month.

Do you miss Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski of Rubicon’s cookin’? Uh, yeah. Me too. You’ll be happy to learn they are part of an all-star line-up of chefs cooking at an upcoming event on Monday April 6th, ~CHEFS TO KNOW / DINE+SIGN~, hosted by The City Club of San Francisco and Taking part in preparing the five-course dinner is Noriyuki Sugie (formerly of Asiate, New York, and the mysterious upcoming Haight Street project I keep trying to get some info on from him, ahem); Richard Corbo (Ducca); and Mark Dommen (One Market). The evening will celebrate the launch of’s Chefs to Know, a comprehensive guide to chefs from around the country and the world. The evening begins at 5:30pm with a selection of hors d’oeuvres provided by executive chef Michael Munoz of The City Club of San Francisco, followed by dinner at 6pm. $175 including dinner, wine, tax, and service charge, and a copy of the book signed by participating chefs. RSVP: 415-362-6697 or email michelle.kimmins [at] cityclubsf [dot] com. 155 Sansome St., 11th Floor.

All kinds of movie-and-pizza buffs mourned the closure of the ~PARKWAY~ in Oakland this past weekend—its last day of business was Sunday March 22nd. Here’s more from the website: “It was the first theater in California to offer food, beer and wine service in a lounge style movie theater. With a nudge or a push from the community, there was little programming the Parkway theater would not try in order to better be a community center and a safe haven for diverse ideas…We, at the Parkway Speakeasy Theater, are deeply proud of the Parkway and will profoundly miss serving its community. Thank you for your patronage. This decision does not affect the Cerrito Speakeasy. Most of the Parkway's regular and special events will move over there.” And, scene. 1834 Park Blvd., Oakland.

This Friday March 27th, California olive oil producers will be sampling their new olive oils alongside author Fran Gage, who will be discussing and signing her new book, The New American Olive Oil–Profiles of Artisan Producers and 75 Recipes at the ~PASTA SHOP~ on Fourth Street in Berkeley. Participating olive oil producers include Bozzano, California Olive Ranch, DaVero, Lucero, Katz, Le Colline di Santa Cruz, and Robbins Family (there will also be storewide discounts). Free. RSVPs appreciated here. 5:30pm–7pm. 1786 Fourth St. at Delaware, Berkeley, 510-250-6004.

Coinciding with the book signing, ~CAFÉ ROUGE~ (just next door) will offer special menu items featuring California extra virgin olive oils from March 26th–29th. 1782 Fourth St. at Virginia, Berkeley, 510-525-1440.