May 26, 2009

May 26, 2009

Well, it's the end of an era. After seven years in the Financial District, the last tomato soup en croute was served on Friday night at ~JEANTY AT JACK'S~. I know I'm not the only one who will be missing the famed soup, oysters at the bar, the cassoulet, and more. Fortunately you'll still be able to indulge of some of the favorites at Phillipe Jeanty's Bistro Jeanty in Yountville—just a bit of a drive. Best of luck to him, and the entire staff. 615 Sacramento St. at Montgomery.

Jeanty at Jack's, closed. Rubicon, closed. However, not all is quiet on Sacramento Street, because coming this early June in the former Les Amis space will be ~WEXLER'S~, the New American BBQ place from owner Matt Wexler and executive chef Charlie Kleinman (he wrote a recent Texas BBQ piece for tablehopper here). Aidlin Darling Design (who also did Bar Bambino) is putting together a "rustic-chic" look, using wood and zinc, including a laser-cut wood canopy that extends into the dining room (you can take a peek on the AD website). There will be also be oversized glass doors to let more light into the formerly dim space.

Chef Kleinman, whose background includes Fifth Floor and Fish & Farm, is going to be putting some California spin on barbecue hailing from different regions while sourcing local and seasonal ingredients. The menu isn't just about smoked meats—it's also about integrating savory dry rubs, like on scallops that will come with Anson Mills grits and bourbon-glazed turnips, or introducing BBQ hollandaise (yup, which you'll find over a poached duck egg and Zuckerman Farms asparagus salad). Lunch will be served, like the Carolina BBQ-inspired pulled lamb sandwich dressed in watermelon and chile spiked vinegar (dishes will range from $9–14). Dinner entrées will run from $18–$22, like short ribs with pickled okra, fingerling potatoes, and BBQ au jus. House-made pie or an "inverted root beer float" will be your photo finish (the float comes with locally made root beer ice cream).

My ears pricked up over the full bar's offerings of Southern-inspired cocktails, like a house-blended sweet tea (boozy or not), and the Wexler's 5-minute Julep (how long it will take to make it, not drink it, you boozehound). Kleinman is a big beer fan, so I trust the beer selection will be choice. The GM is Ed Puccio (Balboa Café, Jack Falstaff, Ubuntu, Cortez), and his wine list will highlight American producers. There will also be a 10-seat bar where you can attend to any thirst needs you may have. I'll keep you posted on the opening date once it's locked in. Could be the first week of June. Mon–Sat for lunch (starting at 11am), dinner (5pm onwards), and midday snacks and beverages. 568 Sacramento St. at Montgomery, 415-983-0102.

Mickael Azoulay, owner of Chouquet's Restaurant on Fillmore, and Laurent Guillaume, the chef of Chouquet's, are continuing their Castro acquisitions and are taking over the space that last housed ~FRISEE~. The new project won't be opening until the full liquor license is transferred, which could take up until July. In the meantime, they are going to be working out the concept, name, design, and more. There's a pretty big kitchen, so they look forward to coming up with some modern and eclectic French-inspired dishes (no traditional French dishes will be on the menu). Perhaps the new Chouquet's burger they have developed will be making an appearance… It's a Wagyu beef burger, with pommes gaufrette (waffle fries), butter lettuce, organic tomato, applewood bacon, red onions, duck fat galette, and Choron sauce. (Sounds like something I have to try.) The full bar will be a key component, plus music and potentially DJs. Stand by for more. 2367 Market St. at Castro.



Things are happening in SoMa on Folsom Street, and it's not just the Spencer On the Go truck. After years in the making, my buddy Dave Mur is going to be opening his own place, ~FONDUE COWBOY~. It's going into the former Extreme Pizza spot, hopefully by this July. Classic fondue place with huge bubbling pots of Emmenthaler and Gruyere this is not—Mur is looking toward a new frontier of fondue. There will seasonal fondues, actually, using different kinds of cheeses, herbs, house-flavored oils, and dippers. The fondue pots will be smaller, encouraging guests to try different flavors of both savory and sweet fondues. In fact, Mur is having some custom fondue pot holders made. There will also be some supplementary dishes like cured meats and salads, all in a small plate format. Many items will range from $8–$10, and since portions won't be ginormous, you won't roll out of there totally stuffed and in pain, just comfortably full. Mur sees the 43-seat space as more of a fondue lounge, where guests can hang out, either on a romantic date or socializing in larger groups—the space will have bench seating to accommodate different groups. There will also be a bit of a rustic Western vibe, with lots of wood and spaghetti western flicks playing on a flat-screen TV. Beer and wine will be served, and look for brunch and potential outdoor seating at a later date. Hours will be Tue–Sun 5pm–11pm. 1052 Folsom at Russ (between 6th and 7th Streets).

Just next door there is going to be an ~ITALIAN DELI~ in a couple months, stand by. From what I heard, it's a father and daughter team behind the deli, and they plan on using the back kitchen area as a cookie bakery. I'm just waiting to hear back from them, stay tuned.

More local micro-roaster coffee activity: some ex-Blue Bottle and Four Barrel employees, brothers Justin and Jerad Morrison, are hard at work on their own project on 7th Street called ~SIGHTGLASS COFFEE~. The pics look major—the space is downright huge. Like, try 4,000 square feet. They are restoring a Probat roaster, so there will be both wholesale and retail house-roasted coffee available. There's a 1970's La Marzocco, too. I'll have more deets to share next week. Very exciting for SoMa folks. 7th St. at Folsom.

A couple tablehopper readers send word of another ~ITALIAN DELI~ opening on Townsend near Lusk, across from the Safeway. Anyone? Bueller? 236 Townsend St. at Lusk (between 3rd and 4th Streets).

~SERPENTINE'S~ new chef, Deepak Kaul, has started. His most recent experience in the city was at Jardinière, where he worked with Robbie Lewis for five years. He then moved to Boston, where he worked at Rendezvous. The menu changes will be subtle; Serpentine will keep its seasonal approach, adjusting with what's available. Serpentine will continue to work with products from farms like Mariquita and ranches like Prather, and prices will stay the same. 2495 3rd St. at 22nd St., 415-252-2000.

In case you're wondering where chef Bridget Batson (Hawthorne Lane, TWO) is these days, she's working at ~PIZZERIA DELFINA~ on California Street. She says she really wanted to do something completely different for a while, and has been training with Anthony Strong. She said, "Quite honestly it's the most fun I've had in years." And congrats to Pizzeria Delfina for their panna pie making Alan Richman of GQ's list of the 25 Best Pizzas in the U.S. And best wishes to one of their pizzaiolos, Jose Luis, who is reportedly hurt and is hopefully on the mend in SF General.

Additional kudos to ~GIALINA~ (one of my local faves) for making the list for the wild nettle pizza (I prefer it with the addition of an egg), and ~A16's~ delicious Romana.

Some news in my 94117 neighborhood (the Western Addition) and thereabouts: college kids seem to be the apparent target audience for ~BISTRO GAMBRINUS~, a casual place that just opened near USF with 12 beers on tap (nothing very outré, except the Gambrinus Pilsner, but the rest include Sierra Nevada, Speakeasy, and others), burgers, sausage, sandwiches, plus some Eastern European dishes, like goulash. 1813 Fulton St. at Masonic, 415-221-7777.

Just down the street, things are getting closer on ~JANNAH~, the California-Mediterranean place. I was pleasantly surprised to see with my own eyes who the chef is, but he asked me to keep it quiet until they get close to opening, which should be in three weeks or so. 1775 Fulton St. at Masonic.

Was also happy to learn that the shuttered ~ONE WORLD CAFÉ~ is morphing into a beer and wine bar and café (they will be serving quality coffee, thank god), and is slated to open by the end of summer or so. The owner said he'll have more for me as things progress. Welcome to the neighborhood. 1799 McAllister St. at Baker.

Over on Fillmore Street, I heard ~HARRY'S BAR~ has undergone a menu revamp. Harry's is now using some quality purveyors, like Prather Ranch and Acme Bread for the famed burger. And a new brunch menu is underway, with dishes like a pressed Zoe's ham and Swiss sandwich with two poached eggs and béchamel sauce, served with greens or crispy potatoes ($9.95); baked chilaquiles ($8.95); and a frittata with trumpet mushrooms, goat cheese, green onion, and asparagus ($8.95). The crispy Mary's free-range chicken sandwich with celery root slaw and greens on a torpedo roll also sounds tasty ($8.95). Brunch is Sat–Sun 11am–3pm. If you want to try the new burger, the time to do it is during their late-night special, when a burger and fries are only $6.99 (Sun–Thu 10pm–12am). 2020 Fillmore St. at California, 415-921-1000.

Some special menus around town:

~FARINA~ is turning two on Thursday June 4th, and is celebrating with a $75 four-course prix-fixe menu, with three options for each course. ($40 for wine pairings from Jermann of Friuli). Check it all out here. 3560 18th St. at Guerrero, 415-565-0360.

~AME~ is starting a series of three-course prix-fixe Wednesday night menus. June 3rd is a Japanese dinner with Kurobuta pork "shabu shabu" salad; June 10th is a Lebanese theme with Chateau Musar wines; and the one that really caught my eye is on June 24th: a shochu dinner with bo ssäm, the famed über-pork dish made popular at Momofuku Ssäm Bar in New York (check out some aftermath here). Instead of a big ole pork butt, Ame's variation will feature braised pork belly with fried oysters and kimchi—hold me. Here's a PDF of the upcoming dinners and menus here. The dinners are $55 per person and include beverage pairings, but do not include tax or gratuity. 689 Mission St. at Minna, 415-284-4040.

On the days when we get some serious summer sun over the next three months (yeah, right), you should check out this handy link a tablehopper reader forwarded to me: a Google Maps listing of all the restaurants, bars, lounges, or cafes in the Bay Area that have ~OUTDOOR SEATING~. The mapmaker is trying to keep it focused on establishments that have either patio seating in the back or some kind of dedicated area out front, i.e. something like Enrico's or even The Pork Store in the Mission, as opposed to a place that just has one or two tables out front on the sidewalk. He has it set up so he's the only one who can edit it, but if anyone gives him a suggestion via the comments, he'll add it.

A partner in ~CIBO~ in Sausalito wrote in to let me know the café is now open, serving breakfast and lunch (panini, salads). The décor sounds a bit historic-industrial-chic, and there's an outdoor patio. Hours are Mon–Fri 7am–3pm, and Sat–Sun 7am–5pm. 1201 Bridgeway at Pine, Sausalito, 415-331-2426.

A few upcoming events: ~BAR BAMBINO~ is hosting a cheese and wine tasting on Sunday May 31st. This class from owner Christopher Losa and head cheese monger Colin Shaff will focus on teaching how cheese and wine are made. 3pm–5pm. $45. Reserve at events [at] barbambino [dot] com or call 415-701-VINO (8466). 2931 16th St. at South Van Ness.

(Starting on June 1st, Bar Bambino is also going to be hosting Monday Night Suppers: a $35 family-style menu, highlighting different Italian regions, plus $10 for a quartino of wine. Menus will be posted Sundays on the website and via twitter, @barbambino.)



On Monday June 1st, ~SUPPERCLUB~ is hosting the second Uber Dinner in a series. This dinner has Jamie Lauren (Absinthe, Top Chef) and Jennie Lorenzo (Fifth Floor Restaurant) alongside executive chef Guus Wickenhagen. Each chef will prepare dishes in a multi-course prix-fixe dinner with cocktail and wine pairings, and Supperclub performers will be doing their thing. $125 per person, includes wine pairings. 657 Harrison St. at Hawthorne, 415-348-0900.

~OMNIVORE BOOKS ON FOOD~ has some cool events coming up: on Thursday June 11th, Nate Appleman (A16, SPQR), Chris Cosentino (Incanto), and Traci des Jardins (Jardinière, Mijita, Acme Chophouse) will be on a panel to discuss the current state of restaurants and cooking. 6pm, free. More events to note: on Sunday June 14th, Patricia Unterman will be there to discuss the latest edition of the San Francisco Food Lover's Pocket Guide from 3pm–4pm (free talk). And then Alice Waters will be there on Friday June 26th from 6pm–8pm for the release of The Edible Schoolyard. This is a benefit for the Chez Panisse Foundation, so tickets are $50, and include a signed copy of The Edible Schoolyard. It's an intimate event (only 40 people, less than 15 tickets remain), so call to purchase tickets ASAP at 415-282-4712. Oh yeah, and if you didn't win a copy Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It (last week's sugar mama giveaway), author Karen Solomon will be there to give preserving tips and recipes on Saturday June 27th from 3pm–4pm. 3885-A Cesar Chavez St. at Church, 415-282-4712.

I might as well add a section called The Puerco Report, or Hog Wild Weekly, because it seems there is something piggy happening every week. Coming up on Sunday June 14th is the next ~COCHON 555/SAN FRANCISCO~, an eating and entertainment event that is all about heritage hog. Featured chefs include Ryan Farr (4505 Meats), Nate Appleman (A16, SPQR), Ravi Kapur (Boulevard), and Staffan Terje (Perbacco). $145. Not sure about the where (details are sketchy), but follow the site for more info.

Some (more) pig: ~DASHE CELLARS~ will be hosting a wine lover's luau this Saturday May 30th, with a whole spit-roasted pig, wine-paired hors d'oeuvres, a steel drum player, and you can almost guarantee there will be a few guys who look like Kenny Rogers sporting Hawaiian shirts in full effect. 1pm–5pm. $25 ($20 for wine club or ZAP members). Tickets are available at the door for $30 ($25 for wine club or ZAP members). Includes wine tastings, food, and a complimentary Riedel glass. 55 4th St. at Fallon, Oakland, 510-452-1800.

Not piggy, but fishy: get your spot for ~OLIVETO'S~ upcoming Oceanic Dinners, from June 10th–June 14th. The last time I went, I was really impressed—quite an array of fantastic dishes, featuring 60 species of sea creatures and plants (all harvested sustainably). 5655 College Ave. at Shafter, Oakland, 510-547-5356.

Tickets just went on sale for ~SF CHEFS. FOOD. WINE.~ the four-day food and wine hootenanny to be held in San Francisco from August 6th–9th, 2009. On Saturday the 8th, I will be a part of a panel discussing restaurant reviewing, and moderating another one on culinary matriarchs, featuring Nancy Oakes (Boulevard), Annie Somerville (Greens), Cindy Pawlcyn (Mustards Grill), and Patricia Unterman (Hayes Street Grill). I'll be doing a full recap on the event in a week or so, but thought you'd want to take a peek at the line-up and perhaps get tickets now.



More cooks and books: Deborah Madison, the founding chef of Greens Restaurant and cookbook author, is part of a special luncheon event featuring her new book, ~WHAT WE EAT WHEN WE EAT ALONE~. I can't wait to read it—it's all about solo at-home dining habits, plus recipes. Oh, I'd have some good additions of my own. Especially the late-night concoctions I come up with. Anyway. One Market is hosting the lunch on Thursday June 4th at noon ($85 per person, book included; $150 per couple, one book). Buy tickets here. One Market St. at Spear.

(Note: there is a second event on Friday June 5th at noon at the Oak City Bar & Grill, 1029 El Camino Real, Menlo Park.)

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