April 7, 2009

April 7, 2009

I was riding my bike down Haight Street this weekend and noticed a few changes in the Lower Haight: ~VISIT THAI~ has now morphed into ~BISTRO SAINT GERMAIN~. The owner is Laurent Legendre, who also has ~LE P'TIT LAURENT~ in Glen Park. He will have the same chef, Eliseo Soto Dimos, overseeing both kitchens. The menu will feature affordable bistro fare, like mussels, escargots, salads, vegetarian dishes, baby chicken, bavette, and boeuf bourguignon. Prices will be affordable (the chicken is $14, the bavette is $17). Legendre will also be introducing his popular prix-fixe menu that he offers in Glen Park: three courses for $19.95, available all night from Sunday through Thursday. The décor has been changed as well: less Candyland, and more classic bistro style. Bistro Saint Germain opens this Saturday for dinner at 5:30pm, and will be open nightly for dinner, closing hours TBD. 518 Haight St. at Fillmore, 415-626-6262.

I also noticed there’s a ~BAKERY~ due to open just next door to the bar Underground SF. According to an article posted in the window, it’s affiliated with Phil Roland from Escape From San Francisco bakery up north in Willits, and according to the article, he’s supposedly a master with bagels. A neighbor mentioned the bakery is going to have late-night hours—when I get a call back, I’ll share the deets. Haight at Webster.

I heard ~AQUA~ threw a nice party in honor of restaurant director Jean-Claude Persais, who has left the floor at Aqua after 14-plus years of service. He wants to spend more time with his family, who is based in LA. He is starting his own consulting company and will continue to act as a consultant for Aqua; he also remains a partner at Café de la Presse, so you will still see him around. Aqua’s general manager Karim Guedouard will continue to oversee the restaurant (he has been there since 2005). 252 California St. at Battery, 415-956-9662.

Was sorry to hear ~CAFE MAJESTIC~ abruptly closed last Tuesday. I spoke with publicist Susie Biehler, who said the Butterfly Bar and historic Hotel Majestic will remain open, and the kitchen will quite possibly continue to turn out lighter fare for the bar patrons. No word on what’s next for chef Louis Maldonado, but he does have a new baby he’s going to be able to see more of until he starts his next gig, stand by. 1500 Sutter St. at Gough.

Some staff shifts at ~BIX~: chef de cuisine Colin Dewey is leaving to go to New York, and taking his place is Erik Lowe, who has stints at Ame, Tartare, and Piperade in his resume. Lowe started this past Sunday, and his new dishes will start appearing on the menu on April 15th. Chef Bruce Hill says he’s really proud of Dewey and knows he’ll do great things in New York—they’re trying to get him hooked up with the dude with orange clogs. 56 Gold St. off Montgomery between Jackson and Pacific, 415-433-6300.

~BRICK~ is reinventing itself and will be closing on April 19th, reopening on May 1st as ~FLY~. Co-owner Matt Sturm said Brick has had a bit of an identity crisis, and never quite found its groove with the neighborhood. Sturm, along with partners Leslie Shirah and Chris Cronk, decided the best course was to just change the concept altogether and keep all 18 employees employed. The new affordable menu is going to be like the one at their popular bar Fly on Divisadero, with appetizers, pizzas, salads, sandwiches, and a few other additions, but nothing will be over $11. Happy hour will be from 4:30pm–6:30pm, with drink specials and half-price pizza. Brick’s going away party will be on April 18th, and will close after brunch on April 19th (the $20 brunch will feature bottomless mimosas and bloody Marys, and a bunch of brunch food, from 11am–1pm). You can follow updates about the reopening on their Twitter feed. 1085 Sutter St. at Larkin, 415-441-4232.

~WOODHOUSE FISH CO. ON FILLMORE~ opened for lunch today and will be starting dinner service once the ABC license is in effect. When? Who knows, hopefully in a few weeks—I’ll keep you posted. To recap, the chef is Jon Hearnsberger, who was previously at the Anchor Oyster Bar for six years. The menu is currently featuring Woodhouse on Market favorites, like the lobster roll, stuffed artichoke, fried Ipswich clams, chowder, and raw oysters, and will be introducing more West Coast seafood dishes once dinner service starts. There will also be some daily specials for lunch, like today there was Alaskan halibut in parchment with red potatoes, leeks, spinach, oven-dried tomatoes, and basil butter, and next up is Dungeness crab griddle cakes with crispy russet potatoes and green salad. This second Woodhouse location is in the former Toraya spot—and for you history buffs, it was actually a Japanese fish market before the space was transformed into a restaurant 40 years ago. This location is a bit bigger than the Market Street location (55 seats), and has a Carrara marble counter with stools, wood floors, and a variety of sea-themed objets and design elements. Hours for now are 11:30am–3:30pm daily. 1914 Fillmore St. at Bush, 415-437-2722.

Wanted to update you on ~FARMERBROWN’S LITTLE SKILLET~, which may be opening at the end of this week in 330 Ritch’s walk-up window, or perhaps next week. You can keep track through the littleskillet twitter feed, or be all old-fashioned and call: 415-777-2777. Mmmm, biscuit sandwiches and chicken and waffles are imminent. 330 Ritch St. at Brannan.

Good news for ~BROKEN RECORD~ out in the Excelsior: they are going to be able to stay open until 2am in spite of the zoning issues. The folks at MenuPages have more details about the Planning Commission hearing—you can read all about it here. Yay for the planners who voted 6–1 to keep the late hours. Looks like we’ll be able to have a summer on the patio with Broken Record’s sublime Buffalo wings after all. 1166 Geneva Ave. at Naples, 415-963-1713.

Big congrats to the talented Mourad Lahlou, chef and owner of ~AZIZA~, who is going to have a 13-part television series through Full Plate Media. The series will explore the food of Morocco, with shooting to take place in Marrakesh and San Francisco. Each episode will begin in Marrakesh before returning to Mourad’s home in San Francisco, where he will share dishes inspired by his Marrakesh experiences. A book based on the television series is in development and will be released at the time of broadcast, which is slated for 2010. 5800 Geary Blvd. at 22nd Ave., 415-752-2222.

And coming up on June 10th is the first episode of ~TOP CHEF MASTERS~. Here’s more from the site: “The first six episodes will consist of four chefs competing against each other to name one winner. The six winners of each episode will then meet up for the final four weeks when one person will get eliminated each episode until the finale where one winner is crowned Top Chef Master. The winning chef will receive $100,000 for the charity of their choice.” You can see the lineup of judges (which includes Gael Greene—I’m looking forward to seeing her on TV) and contestants here. Local chefs include Elizabeth Falkner, Hubert Keller, Michael Chiarello, and Cindy Pawlcyn.

Got some meal deals for ya…

Bring your appetite, because ~GOOD PIZZA~ in SoMa is offering all-you-can-eat pizza for only 10 bucks from now through May 31st! There will be four varieties featured nightly, available Monday through Saturday nights from 6pm until closing. And now, the fine print: please note it’s for dine-in only—no carry-outs or doggie bags/boxes permitted, and the offer is not combinable with any other offers or discounts. 140 7th St. at Howard, 415-626-8381.

Chef Roland Passot has introduced two new concepts at his ~LEFT BANK~ locations in Larkspur, Menlo Park, Pleasant Hill, San Jose, and San Mateo: the TGV Express Lunch, named after the express train in France, which includes soupe de saison and salade du marche, le sandwich and le plat du chef, a chicken sandwich or petite pasta, for $12.50. And there’s the $21/21h Menu, a late-night, two-course Parisian-style dinner for $21, served after 9pm.

And now, some meaty meals:

This Wednesday April 8th, ~PICCO~ in Larkspur is hosting a special night called Meats of Marin. Devil’s Gulch Ranch meats will be featured in a variety of dishes, including a selection of house-made Picco salumi made from Devil’s Gulch Ranch pork, with grilled Acme bread, and marinated olives ($12.95); fettuccine pasta with sautéed rabbit loin, braised pork belly, spicy watercress pesto, breadcrumbs, and Andante dairy pecorino ($15.95); balsamic-braised rabbit legs, stone-ground polenta, wild mushrooms, rabbit jus, and local miner’s lettuce ($24.95); and pork loin grilled over mesquite with English peas, artichokes, Delta asparagus, basil, and green garlic puree ($25.95). Sounds incredibly delicious. 320 Magnolia Ave. at King, Larkspur, 415-924-0300.

Last week I was misinformed about the amount of the ~BUNNY BBQ AT BLOODHOUND~: it’s actually $30 for a plate, not $25. The latest menu says each plate will include a rabbit sausage, grilled rabbit, Taylor’s smoked ham, beans, salad, bacon chocolate peanut butter brownies, and a beer. There will also be plenty of chicharrones and other fun treats. RSVP at info [at] bloodhoundsf.com. 1145 Folsom St. at 7th St.

More with ~CHEF RYAN FARR~: he’s doing his first whole hog butchery class on Sunday April 19th at La Cocina. It’s $75 per person, and each guest will have seven to eight pounds that they can butcher (if you want to) and take home. The three-hour class will start promptly at 3pm. There will be chicharrones, carnitas, and beverages served. Aprons, towels, and one knife per person will be supplied during the class (or you can bring your own knife). There are 12 spots available. Buy tickets here. 2948 Folsom St. at 25th St.

I’m sorry to be missing the ~PEBBLE BEACH FOOD & WINE~ Grand Tasting events this year (the weekend of April 18th), but here’s a list of the SF chefs who will be there: Bill Corbett, MICHAEL MINA; Chris Cosentino, Incanto; Traci Des Jardins, Jardinière; Hubert Keller, Fleur de Lys; Jamie Lauren, Absinthe/Top Chef; Michael Mina, MICHAEL MINA; Nancy Oakes, Boulevard; Orlando Pagan, Silks; Carlos Salgado, Coi; and Ron Siegel, The Ritz-Carlton. The entire line-up (and other faboo events) can be viewed here.

For those staying in San Francisco, on Saturday April 18th, chef Gerald Hirigoyen of ~PIPERADE~ and co-author Lisa Weiss will be hosting a special Cooks With Books lunch at Piperade. The event is in honor of their newest cookbook, Pintxos: Small Plates in the Basque Tradition. Lunch is at 12pm, $100 per person (book included). Seating is limited. Buy tickets here. 1015 Battery St. at Union.

Bummed to be missing this as well: on Sunday April 19th is the ~TOUR D'ESPRESSO~, a fun espresso-fueled ride I found on the SF Bike Coalition events page. Here’s more: “Take a tour of six of the City's finest espresso joints according to CoffeeRatings.com. Bring your own mug if you prefer to pace yourself and share an order of drip coffee with new friends. The pace will be leisurely, but we understand if you're a little jacked up after six shots. Heavy rain cancels.” Here’s a map of the tour. 10am, meet at Mint Plaza bike racks outside Blue Bottle Cafe at 66 Mint St.

I know I mentioned this event before, but here’s a little reminder that Alexis Koefoed of Vacaville’s Soul Food Farm will be the guest of honor at A Chicken & Egg Dinner at ~PICCINO~ on Sunday April 26th. Koefoed’s pasture-raised birds and eggs will be featured in dishes like poached eggs in a tomato sauce over polenta, mesquite-grilled livers on rosemary skewers, chicken roasted under a brick, and a custard-based dessert are a few likely items. There are two seatings: 6pm and 8pm. $60 covers the five-course meal, not including wine, tax, or gratuity. To reserve your seats call Wayne at 415-350-5157 or email: wayne [at] garciayrogat [at] com. 801 22nd St. at Tennessee, 415-824-4224.

Oh yeah, and I mentioned I had a hot tip, didn’t I? See, sometimes my column challenges me, because there are things I discover and would actually like to keep to myself. But, that’s not the spirit of why I write this thing, so I’m going to tell you this little gem: ~OMNIVORE BOOKS~ has farm-fresh free-range eggs for sale on their counter—owner Celia Sack brings them down from her Tomales Bay neighbor every Monday night. Let’s just say they’re downright stunning and wicked fresh ($4 for a half-dozen). I scored a vintage book on SF restaurants and perfect eggs—now excuse me while I don’t leave my house for a couple days. 3885A Cesar Chavez St. at Church, 415-282-4712.

And on a somber note closing note, I read that executive chef and owner Dan Scherotter of San Francisco’s ~PALIO D’ASTI RESTAURANT~ is donating a portion of revenues generated from Palio’s dinner service throughout April to the Italian Red Cross to help victims of the horrific 6.3 quake in L’Aquila, Italy. 640 Sacramento St. at Montgomery, 415-362-6003.

Thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by that terrible tragedy... You can help by donating to the fund set up by the National Italian American Foundation here, or if you speak/understand Italian, you can make a donation to the Italian Red Cross on their website here.