May 12, 2009

May 12, 2009

Well, I think it's safe to say it's finally happening: opening this Saturday is the Divisadero location of ~BAR CRUDO~. (I'd just call before heading over—things can happen between now and then.) Owners Tim and Mike Selvera have done a nice job with the space (a former pizza joint)—there's a comfortable zinc bar with 17 seats, a variety of tables with Lucite tops, plus small inset marble tables for folks standing near the bar area. There's a mezzanine in the back (I guess these guys have a thing for mezzanines) with additional seating that includes a large group table/booth. There are also some cool reclaimed light fixtures from Kevin Randolph who has his work at The Perish Trust, just across the street. And like the Bush Street location, there will be some artwork from the incomparable Kelly Tunstall in the form of a mural near the entrance.

Chef Mike is thrilled with his spacious and new raw seafood display (its former home was at Scott Howard) so that means more oysters for you—there's also a raw bar-appropriate backsplash of white subway tile. The menu will feature five new crudos (although the beloved Arctic char will remain), and due to the big kitchen, there will be many more hot dishes, eight in all. For example, there will be a seafood rice (a cross between a paella and a risotto) with shrimp, clams, mussels, and chorizo; whole fish; and head-on Louisiana white shrimp caught that morning and flown over and delivered that evening so they can end up in a diavola (spicy) tomato vinaigrette. The brothers are even considering adding dessert. Alex Fox (Myth, Gary Danko) consulted on the wine list, which features an array of intriguing bubbles, fresh whites, and seafood-friendly reds, and a few producer or style spotlights in case you feel like exploring his hot recos. Plus 17 wines by the glass, have fun. Of course there will be a number of well-chosen beers, courtesy of Tim. Jacqueline Patterson (Heaven's Dog) has concocted five wine-, vermouth-, and beer-based cocktails and aperitifs that will be available in two weeks. Hours will be 5pm–11pm nightly (they're hoping to land later hours when they're a bit further along). 665 Divisadero St. at Grove, 415-409-0679.

Meanwhile, ~SWELL~ is opening tomorrow (Wednesday) in the former Bar Crudo space on Bush. The partners are Ludovic Racinet (Tunnel Top) and Stephane Gioe (Chouquet's), who have hired Paul Feng, formerly an executive sous at Postrio. Feng's menu will feature a variety of raw dishes, from fish to beef to vegetables, with some special seafood rolls with vegetables, salad, or tobiko (no rice). The menu is being described as highlighting a Japanese cut, with European style. The wine list is international, and will feature 35 wines by the glass. They will be renovating a month or so from now, which will include a new paint job and lighting. Hours are Mon–Thu 5:30pm–10:30pm, and Fri–Sat 5:30pm–11pm. 603 Bush St. at Stockton, 415-956-0396.

A new Italian place just opened last Friday in SoMa in the former Vino e Cucina space called ~LA BRICIOLA~. The partners in the project are Gianluca Toschi, Alessandro Sapienza, Luciano Trentoni, and Rhiannon Anderson. They were all servers at Mona Lisa in North Beach, and in this new arrangement, Gianluca is the chef (he was trained in Italy). The extensive menu has two sections: “From the Earth” includes homemade pastas like spinach-filled ravioli in a veal ragú, and gnocchi with a pecorino sauce and walnuts, plus a secondo of vitello alla valdostana (rolled veal with speck and Fontina cheese). “From the Ocean” delivers octopus with warm cannellini beans and barley in a lemon dressing; sea bass-filled ravioli in a lobster reduction; and caciucco di viareggio (fish stew with crab, calamari, mussels, clams, shrimp, salmon, and swordfish). You can read the whole menu on the site—it's rather extensive. This isn't just a neighborhood trattoria; the owners wanted to offer a nicer dining experience that was more on the level of Perbacco—a true ristorante.

About the name: briciola (bree-cho-la) is Italian for breadcrumb, which is what the Italians said about owner Rhiannon's Chihuahua, Bartolomeo, when she brought him to Italy. The 49-seat space has been redone with sunny yellow and terracotta colors, plus they redid the iron gate, and there's a new paint job for the exterior of the building. Oh, and for those wondering what happened to the tomato that was out front, it was sold to the grandson of the artist who made it—he is in Kansas and is arranging to have it shipped out there. Hours are daily 11am–3pm and 5pm–10:30pm. La Briciola is going to try to stay open on Sundays for dinner, so be sure to check it out if you live in the neighborhood. 489 3rd St. at Bryant, 415-512-0300.

More Italian: opening this Friday for dinner is ~FLOUR + WATER~ in the Mission. The imported Valoriani oven from Italy will be firing up thin-crust Neapolitan pizzas from chef Thomas McNaughton (La Folie, Gary Danko, Quince)—he'll also be making house-made pastas and house-cured meats. Everything on the menu will be $20 and under, like a shaved asparagus and arugula salad with quail egg and pancetta-caper vinaigrette; pizza carciofi with artichokes, new onion, pecorino, capers; pasta alla chittara with wild mushrooms and peppercress; and young chicken al mattone with watercress, potato, and spring onion. Items will change daily, with approximately six starters, five pizzas, five pastas, three entrées, three sides, plus dessert. Partner David White has crafted a wine list made up exclusively of Italian varietals ranging from $20–$60. Designer Sean Quigley (owner of Paxton Gate) used a variety of refurbished, repurposed, and reclaimed materials, like a chandelier of Gemsbuck horns, and a great deal of the wood for the interior comes from old-growth redwood wine fermentation tanks. There's also a mural and two permanent commissions by San Francisco painter Jessica Niello. The majority of seating is for walk-ins, but some reservations will be available starting Thursday. Open for dinner this Friday (5:30pm–midnight), and then brunch (Sat–Sun 10am–2:30pm) and afternoon service (daily 2:30pm–5.30pm) begins May 25th. (Closed Sunday May 17th and Sunday May 24th.) 2401 Harrison St. at 20th St., 415-826-7000.

The restaurant formerly known as A5 just settled some legal issues with A16 last week, so their new name is now officially ~5A5~ (for the five senses, and the A5 rating of beef). To remind you, this is the steak lounge opening in the former Frisson space in Jackson Square. The grand opening is tonight (May 12th) with cocktails and appetizers, and dinner and reservations beginning tomorrow (Wednesday). The menu by chef Allen Chen (who, funnily enough, is no relation to owners Stephen and Albert Chen, who are also no relation) will change weekly—he was most recently at Alexander's Steakhouse. The rotating menu includes a variety of bar-friendly bites like shooters and lobster tempura, plus salads, and different cuts and grades of steak, available in 4 oz.–22 oz. cuts, in addition to seafood, and a number of side dishes (you can see the menu on the site). The GM is Kevin Lee, most recently at Bong Su and Tamarine. Hours are Mon–Thu 5:30pm–10pm, Fri–Sat 5:30pm–9pm (last reservation), and then shifting to more of a lounge atmosphere, with entertainment like jazz trios, live vocalists, and DJs kicking in at 11pm and running until 2am. 244 Jackson St. at Front, 415-989-2539.

I heard a rumor about a jazz supperclub from Chris Pastena (formerly a managing partner at Bruno's) and a business partner moving into ~LEVENDE LOUNGE~. Hopefully I'll be able to get the story and some details confirmed next week—seems like things aren't quite final just yet so I can't confirm it. 1710 Mission St. at Duboce.

Over in the Marina, ~NOODLE THEORY~ has opened in the former short-lived Ramen Club space. This is a second location (the first location is in Rockridge), so maybe they'll last longer than the previous joint. The menu looks really appetizing (and uses Niman Ranch products). It's similar to the Rockridge location (check out a PDF of the menu here), but some new salads and other dishes will be added soon. Since it's the soft opening, it's cash only right now, and they are smartly offering 30% off for this first week of business, through next Thursday. Until the beer and wine license kicks in, they're also offering no corkage/free BYOB. Hours are Wed–Mon 11:30am–4pm and 5pm–10:30pm, open continuously with no afternoon break on the weekends. 3242 Scott St. at Chestnut, 415-359-1238.

The ~ONE-NIGHT POP-UP RESTAURANT AT BRUNO'S~ last week from the Chez/OPEN Restaurant gang (and friends) had a good start. One tablehopper reader wrote in this report: “Apps like oysters Rockefeller, escarole, and mackerel, leek terrine, pork terrine for around $10–$12. Entrées around $20–$25 like filet with bone marrow and fish stew, and a $40 prime rib for two. They also had a few Kermit Lynch wines by the glass and bottle, and even a bottle of '95 Chave Hermitage for $400—not bad for a one night a week restaurant.” Seriously. This week's menu includes a chopped or a wedge salad, a spring vegetable terrine and a fried pork terrine with mostarda, a burger, fish stew, and a pasta (slated to be a vegetarian lasagne), plus chocolate tarts from a Chez Panisse pastry chef. Bar-wise, there will be rum punch with rhubarb syrup, Magnolia beer, and homemade vermouth from Carl Sutton with 209 Gin. Dinner will be served from 8pm–1:30am. If you want to make a reservation for dinner, email goodeveningthursday [at] gmail [dot] com. And don't forget there are all kinds of cheap and tasty eats downstairs in the bar, plus affordable cocktails. For more info on the event, please refer to the April 28th issue of tablehopper. 2389 Mission St. at 20th St., 415-643-5200.

More news about irreverent places to get gourmet bites: Laurent Katgely of Chez Spencer has taken over a taco truck and is calling it ~SPENCER ON THE GO~. He is due to be parking it across the street from Terroir in SoMa—he hopes to start this Thursday, and will be parking it there every Thu–Sat from 6pm–12am or so. Here's a peek at the menu, which includes escargot puffs ($2), grilled sweetbreads with sherry ($9), and he mentioned a few other dishes that aren't on the menu, like a foie gras torchon; Katgely expects to have 80 percent of the menu available this Thursday. (You'll be able to bring your bites inside Terroir.) He might be parking the truck elsewhere around town, and is already receiving catering offers, so I expect we'll be able to follow it on Twitter soon enough. Terroir, 1116 Folsom St. at 7th St., 415-558-9946.

Also in the Mission, I was bummed to learn ~MARTA'S KITCHEN~ is no longer at the Jay'n Bee Club. I heard she's going to be opening again in the Mission—more on that when I can let the cat outta the bag. It seems the Jay'n Bee is now serving more traditional pub fare. 2736 20th St. at Hampshire, 415-824-4190.

Let's see what news ABC licenses and permits have to share:

~PAGAN~ is opening a second location in the Richmond, now just a few blocks away from Burmese stalwart Burma Superstar. 731 Clement St. at 8th Ave.

is opening in the Di Grande Italian and Seafood spot in the Parkside. 1439 Taraval St. at 25th Ave.

After 15 years of business, ~OLD KRAKOW POLISH RESTAURANT & ART CAFÉ~ is closing, and Clay Oven Indian Restaurant is taking its place. I called and learned Old Krakow's last day of business is June 14th. 385 W Portal Ave. at 15th Ave., 415-564-4848.

The Tenderloin has a new café that just opened last Thursday, ~farm:table~ from two ex-Blue Bottle workers, Kate and Shannon Amitin, along with Katherine Renfield, a personal chef. The petite café was totally redone, and features Verve coffee, a micro-roaster in Santa Cruz who is incidentally into jazz (great name, I gotta say). The menu includes mini breakfast cakes, French toast, mini pancakes, soups, and tarts and cakes, highlighting seasonal and organic ingredients. The cheerful space includes a communal table, and room for 10–15 people total. Hours are Mon–Fri 7am–3pm and Sat–Sun 8am–3pm. 754 Post St. at Jones, 415-292-7089.

According to a tablehopper reader, it looks like ~THREE TWINS ORGANIC ICE CREAM~ is hoping to open at Haight and Fillmore this Friday May 15th (health inspection pending). It's their first SF shop and the only organic ice cream shop in the city. Can't wait to have the mint flavor. Hours will be noon–10pm Sun–Thu, and until 11pm Fri–Sat. 254 Fillmore St. at Haight, 415-IT'S-TWIN (working in two weeks).

tablehopper reader Jason B. writes in that “the old Oasis market (good sandos) has been shuttered and turned into ~SOUTH SIDE CAFÉ~. Popped in and saw the usual selection of coffees, bagels, and sandwiches as well as free WiFi.” 433 South Van Ness Ave. at 15th St., 415-252-0900.

I have been burning with curiosity about what was opening into ~A SLICK SPOT ON 24th STREET~—peeking through the plywood last month I thought the space looked quite cool, with lots of wood and a gleaming espresso machine inside. Couldn't get any leads on it, but Eater managed to snag a good picture of the cafe. Been trying to find more info on who is opening it, getting close, stand buy. 3082 24th St. at Folsom.

A tipster called in to let me know ~TASTE OF THE HIMALAYAS~ in the Marina has new owners from Shangri-La Café & Grill in Rohnert Park. 2420 Lombard St. at Divisadero, 415-674-9898.

~MAGNOLIA~ had such a good time with their recent crawfish boil that they're doing two more, on Tuesday May 19th and then again on Tuesday June 16th. It's $9/lb., with sides of corn, potatoes, andouille, and other accoutrements. The crawfish is flown in the same day from Louisiana. And, how magic, beer is only $3 on Tuesdays. 1398 Haight St. at Masonic, 415-864-7468.

~RN74~ has already changed their menu format—gone are the small plates, and now the menu is more of a traditional appetizer and entrée style, so you may want to hit the ATM before heading over. Lunch dishes now range from $11–$15 for first courses and $18–$21 for second courses; dinner dishes range from $13–$17 for first courses and $24–$31 for second courses. The changes were made based on initial guest feedback about portion size and a desire for larger entrées. Millennium Tower, 301 Mission St. at Beale, 415-543-7474.

A new farmers market is opening in the Metreon this Friday May 15th. ~ISLAND EARTH FARMERS MARKET AND COMMUNITY EXCHANGE~ in an indoor market, slated to eventually have 160 vendors (not just produce), and will be open daily. You can see the list of current vendors here. In an effort to appeal to downtown workers and shoppers, you can pick out your produce and goods, leave with a claim check, and then call later to have your items run out to your car curbside. Hours are Mon–Sat 10am–8pm, and Sun 10am–7pm. 101 4th St. at Mission, 510-547-2358.

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and are raising a ninth, tenth, eleventh, or twelfth-grader, you might want to know about the ~FOOD IS POWER MLI SUMMER FILM EXPERIENCE~. During half-day sessions spanning two weeks in July, 50 Northern California students will learn firsthand about sustainable food production and consumption through visits to producers and restaurateurs, such as those at San Francisco's Ferry Plaza Marketplace. Then, with the guidance of MLI staff, participants will create short-form video presentations that share their views on the theme of sustainable food with the world. Nokia and the Pearson Foundation provide all equipment, and participation is free for students accepted into the program.

The Food Is Power MLI Summer Film Experience is offered over a two-week session this summer, beginning July 2th and concluding July 31st, 2009. The deadline for applications is June 5th, 2009. For complete details, please visit here.

The ~TIPSY PIG~ begins weekend tipsy brunch this Saturday May 16th. On the menu: dishes like a grilled cheese breakfast sandwich, huevos rancheros, French toast, a scramble, salads, and of course the burger (most dishes range from $10–$12). Oh yeah, and a thyme and cheddar biscuit with spiced honey that sounds quite fantastic.There will also be some rise-and-shine cocktails, like a blueberry fizz. No reservations for the first two weeks. Brunch hours are 10:30am–2pm. Eventually a light menu will be added to be in place from the end of brunch until dinner service beings. 2231 Chestnut St. at Pierce, 415-292-2300.

This Sunday, ~JEANTY AT JACK'S~ will be celebrating its oyster house history with a special party, Consider The Oyster, featuring seven California oyster growers and 20 wines from 11 wineries, including Schramsberg, J, and Iron Horse. There will also be live music. The party is from noon–6pm, and is $60. 615 Sacramento St. at Montgomery, 415-693-0941.

This event is just too fantastic: so Daniel Patterson of Coi was invited to cook in Copenhagen at the end of May for a prestigious event that is gathering quite the international crew o' chefs (like, oh, Albert Adrià , Pascal Barbot, and René Redzepi). Patterson was concerned about missing a couple days of service at the restaurant, and came up with the brilliant idea of having ~STUART BRIOZA AND NICOLE KRASINSKI~ take over the kitchen and guest chef for two nights! (Ironically, there are three former Rubicon employees already working at Coi.) On Friday May 29th and Saturday May 30th , Stuart and Nicole are going to be preparing a five-course menu for $85, with an optional $65 wine pairing. Book it while you can! 373 Broadway at Sansome, 415-393-9000.

Here's a quick recap on some news south of San Francisco:

~CETRELLA~ in Half Moon Bay has reopened after its winter hiatus with a new executive chef, Sylvain Montassier. The Mediterranean menu will now include some New French cuisine technique—Montassier's background includes a number of restaurants in France, and locally he has worked at La Table O & Co, Boulevard, and he was the chef de cuisine at Belden Taverna. You can check out the spring menu online. 845 Main St. at Spruce, Half Moon Bay, 650-726-4090.

Down in Redwood City, ~MARTINS WEST PUB~ has opened in the century-old Alhambra building, formerly a theater and saloon (Wyatt Earp was a regular). The project is co-owned by GM Moira Beveridge (and you thought she'd be behind the bar with that last name), bar manager Derek Smith, and executive chef Michael Dotson (PlumpJack Café in Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe; Heirloom in Sonoma; and Evvia). In case their names are familiar, Beveridge and Dotson worked together at Sens restaurant in San Francisco. The menu features local, sustainable ingredients and authentic British gastropub fare, with dishes like a seasonal banger with mash and peat-grilled lamb T-bone with Rancho Gordo yellow-eye bean stew and herb-crusted haggis (!). The pastry chef is Kelly Fields, who also worked at Sens—she has a sticky toffee pudding with brandied caramel and homemade drunken raisin ice cream on the dessert menu.

Once the beer and wine license kicks in, there will be a variety of imported and locally brewed beers on tap, along with an extensive bottled beer selection to choose from, plus a global wine list, and a seasonal cocktail list (with an extensive selection of Scotch). The space features a row of turn-of-the-century columns running down the center of the dining area, a 25-foot wooden bar, and dining tables made from reclaimed wine barrels. Hours are Mon–Fri 11am–12am, Sat 5pm–12am. 831 Main St. at Broadway, Redwood City, 650-366-4366.

Just nearby, ~DONATO ENOTECA~ is opening in early June. The executive chef/owner is Donato Scotti, who hails from Bergamo, Italy. There will be homemade pastas, along with other in-house specialties such as sausages, mostarda, and lamb prosciutto. A sample dish on the menu includes risotto e coda di manzo (carnaroli rice simmered with braised oxtail, sangiovese wine, and root vegetables), $16. The space will have three dining rooms, with outdoor patio dining, an open kitchen, and floor-to-ceiling wine storage cabinets in the back wine cellar room. The wine program will primarily focus on smaller-production wines (75 percent will be Italian). 100 bottles will be on offer, with 35 poured by the glass, quartino, and mezzo. Hours will be lunch and dinner Sun–Thu 11:30am–10pm, Fri–Sat 11:30am–11pm. 1041 Middlefield Rd. at Jefferson, Redwood City.

Roland Passot's Tanglewood at Santana Row has closed, and ~LB STEAK~ (LB as in Left Bank) is going into the space in June. It's going to be a modern and moderately priced American steakhouse. Signature dishes will include braised pork belly with five-spice Coca-Cola glaze, whole grilled petrale sole, a 20 oz. porterhouse, and a lamb saddle double chop. The restaurant will be open daily for lunch and dinner as well as offering continuous bar and terrace service throughout the day. 334 Santana Row at Tatum, Suite 1000, San Jose.

Also south, ~SAKOON~ is opening soon at the end of the month in Mountain View. The 140-seat restaurant is from Balkar S. Tamber, owner of the multi-location Bombay Garden, and the executive chef is Sachin Chopra, formerly of Palo Alto's Mantra restaurant. This location is designed to be contemporary and offer a finer-dining experience. Most entrées will be priced under $20, and a five-course, prix-fixe farmer's market tasting menu will be offered—both a vegetarian ($35) and non-vegetarian option ($40) will be available. There will also be an $11.95 lunch buffet Mon–Fri (Sat–Sun $12.95). Sakoon won't just focus on Southern or Northern Indian cuisine—look for flavors of Kashmir, like gushtaba, soft lamb koftas in a sauce of roasted onion and yogurt. Both wine and cocktails will be available. Hours will be Mon–Fri 11:30am–2:30pm, Sat–Sun 12pm–3pm; dinner Sun–Thu 5pm–10pm, and Fri–Sat 5pm–10:30pm. 357 Castro St. at California, Mountain View.

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