August 11, 2009

August 11, 2009

Over at ~THE ALEMBIC~ in the Haight, co-chef Jordan Grosser has departed—co-chef Ted Fleury will now be running the kitchen solo. In an email, Grosser mentioned making some fresh goat or sheep cheeses (perhaps turning up on restaurant menus around town soon?) and is looking to take part in a variety of local food-oriented events. The man can cook, so I hope to see his name pop up somewhere soon. 1725 Haight St. at Cole, 415-666-0822.

Also heard executive chef Mauro Pando is no longer at ~GRAND CAFÉ~ as a result of a position elimination; executive sous chef Sophiane Benaouda is now heading up the kitchen. 501 Geary St. at Taylor, 415-292-0101.

~STARBELLY~ is on track to open in the former Asqew Grill space by next Tuesday August 18th. To recap, chef Adam Timney's menu will be focused on affordably priced California comfort food for brunch, lunch, and dinner, offering late-night dining until 12am, plus beer and wine-based cocktails. Open daily Mon–Fri 11am–12am, and brunch Sat–Sun starts at 10am. Wanna check it out before it opens? Take a look in the sugar mama for details on how! 3583 16th St. at Market, 415-252-7500.

Looks like some new folks will be taking over the Quince location on Octavia when the Tusks move over to Pacific Avenue: according to liquor license permits, Lori Baker and her husband Jeff Banker are moving in, and the license says it's called ~BROWN BUTTER~. It's actually fitting, because part of their extensive resume includes time at The Meetinghouse, which used to be at that location. Baker was also the pastry chef at Home restaurant for four years while Jeff Banker was the executive chef. They have worked all over SF for the last 10 years, including Postrio, Bix, Acme Chophouse, Gordon's House of Fine Eats, Bizou, Fifth Floor, and Slow Club. They have been looking for a space for some time, so I look forward to hearing what they have in store now that they have their spot. Also stand by for an upcoming hardhat piece on Quince and Cotogna, with a sneak peek and details on the when and what of those projects. 1701 Octavia St. at Bush.

Found out at the last minute that the ~PARKSIDE TAVERN~ is supposed to open this week (Wednesday?) in the former ~RICK'S ALOHA CAFÉ~. A while back I mentioned Larry Doyle, the chef at Johnny Foley's Irish House in Union Square is behind this "food-driven" neighborhood tavern. Didn't get the details in time for my deadline, so look for more next week. 1940 Taraval St. at 29th Ave.

And now, some closures: sadly ~CORTEZ~ in the Hotel Adagio near Union Square and ~PRES A VI~ in the Presidio have both been taken down this past week by this challenging economy. And… scene.

Thanks to a tip from a tablehoppin' reader, there's a new place to get crepes in SoMa in the morning: ~CREPERIE SAINT GERMAIN~. It's a small crepe trailer next to Temple, run by owner Zee Aynaci. On offer: both savory and sweet crepes made with organic buckwheat and seasonal ingredients, plus waffles too. You can follow the trailer's tweets here. Open from 6am–9pm, and until 4am Fri–Sat. There's an "opening party" this Friday at 7pm—not sure what it entails, but I can imagine some tasty bites will be involved. 546 Howard St. at 1st St., 415-948-7348.

Mission Mission mentioned a Thai/Vietnamese pop-up brunch happening at Doc's Clock on Sundays called ~THREE PAPAYAS~. Entrées include Vietnamese crepes and papaya salad, reportedly $8 and under. 12pm–4pm. 2575 Mission St. at 22nd St., 415-824-3627.

More sweet treats: ~PACIFIC PUFFS~ is now open in Cow Hollow, serving six kinds of fresh-baked cream puffs made from an old family recipe. Open daily 11am–8pm. 2201 Union St. at Fillmore, 415-440-7833.

As Eater noted, it looks like ~CHAPEAU!~ has moved homes and is now in the Clementine space—we'll have to see what owner Philippe Gardelle decides to open in the original space (one rumor is a wine bar). 126 Clement St. at 2nd St.

Things are close for the ~NEW PEOPLE COMPLEX~ in Japantown, due to open this Friday August 15th. There will be a Japanese movie theater in the basement showing anime movies, Japanese fashion stores (like Sou Sou and Japanese Lolita brand Baby the Stars Shine Bright), art galleries, and the Viz Cinema Café, serving Blue Bottle Coffee and bento boxes and curry dishes from Delica rf-1. 1746 Post St. at Webster.

According to some posters on Yelp, ~SUSHI TONI~ is officially open in the former Sushi Man space. The reviews so far mention rolls like the Hanukah (salmon skin, smoked salmon, ikura), the Swamp Roll (wakame salad and spicy tuna), and the Philly Roll (yup, with cream cheese). (If those kinds of rolls turn your crank.) 731 Bush St. at Powell.

And here's more sushi-related news: a contact at La Cocina told me that there's yet another new sushi restaurant in town, but this one's got a twist. Serving a very specific clientele, and to be located in the Financial District, sushi chefs straight from Hastings, Japan will be creating crazy rolls like The California Bar (crab meat and avocado in a square roll), Tortes and Appeals (smoked salmon and watercress with wasabi-ginger-yuzu dressing), and more. Anyway, sounds a little random, but who am I to judge? The name of the place? ~SOSUMI~.

Also in the random file: for those of you trying to plan a group party, if you just want to do drinks and bites, ~ANDALU~ is offering a special group set menu of small plates for parties of six or more for $19.95 per person. You can also request all-you-can-drink sangria or beer on tap for $15 for two hours (but you have to "pre order" that when making arrangements). Don't blame me for your sangria headache the next day, that's all I'm sayin'. 3198 16th St. at Guerrero, 415-621-2211 .

More random-ness: if you're going to the de Young for the Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibit, you might want to know on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, there is a special program, ~TUT AT TWILIGHT~, offering a special prix-fixe menu as well as discounted admission to the exhibition. The local and seasonal menu includes a trio of warm summer tomato soup, cucumber garbanzo salad, and tabbouleh, plus an entrée of grilled Marin Sun Farms beef tenderloin skewer, and a strawberry and rhubarb tart. The menu is $14, or $21 with a glass of wine; discounted Tut at Twilight admission is $20 for adults, seniors, students, and groups, and $15 for youth 6–17 and FAMSF members. Now through September 30th. For more information, visit Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive.

Coming up this Saturday August 15th is ~YBCA'S WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA? LATE-NIGHT PARTY~, and farmerbrown's Little Skillet will be serving food, like three kinds of sliders (pulled pork, goat cheese with fig-onion jam and arugula, or goat cheese with heirloom tomato and arugula), fried chicken, mini pecan pies, and more. There's also live music, art, cocktails, and more. 9pm–2am.

Lots of seasonal events around town, including a local, sustainable, organic ~TOMATO DINNER~ on Sunday August 16th with chef Liz Bills (California Table) and Melissa Axelrod (Melissa Claire). It will be held at Mercedes Hair of the Dog on Commercial Street. Guests will be greeted with bubbles and passed appetizers. The meal will then be served family-style (except a few dishes that get their own plate). The dinner is a prix-fixe menu at $55 a person, with optional wine paring (all local wines!) for an additional $30. There will also be a cash bar at the dinner for those who opt to purchase wine by the glass. 5pm. Check out the menu and purchase tickets on the website. 653 Commercial St. at Montgomery.

There is also a ~FIG FEST~ at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Saturday August 15th from 10am–1pm, with a fig education booth, you can pick up a handmade fig bar ($1 donation), a talk with an urban gardener, and fig-focused cooking demonstrations. (Photo from

Feeling crafty? Monday August 24th is a pickling workshop through ~URBAN PEASANT~ on quick, canned, and fermented cucumbers with Michelle Feurst from 6:30pm–8:30pm. (Michelle worked as the pickles curator for Slow Food Nation last fall.) $45. Buy tickets here. Hands On Gourmet, 2325 3rd Street, No. 330, at 20th St.

~URBAN KITCHEN~ is hosting a slew of events, including a kombucha brewing class on Tuesday August 18th; Butchery with Dave the Butcher of Marina Meats and Avedano's on Tuesday August 25th; Growing Food in Containers: the new Victory Garden and urban edible landscaping on Thursday August 27th; Jamming with Happy Girl Kitchen Co. and CUESA on Friday August 28th; and Vermi-composting (love your worms!) on Saturday August 29th. Dates, times, locations, and prices vary.

The renovated ~TAVERN AT LARK CREEK~ is now serving Sunday brunch from 10am–2pm, with dishes from chef Randy Lewis like a Southern Benedict over biscuits ($13.50); lunch items like shrimp and grits ($14.50); and special brunch cocktails like the Tavern Fizz with vodka, lemon, orange, egg white, sugar, cream, and seltzer. 234 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur, 415-924-7766.

On Thursday August 20th, Jude Becker of Becker Lane Organic Farm in Iowa will be the guest speaker and guest of honor at a dinner at ~CAFÉ ROUGE~ featuring his organic pork. A sixth-generation hog farmer, he produces 6,000 humanely raised, organically certified pigs each year at his family-run farm. His organically raised, farm-milled grains are the feed for his exceptional product. On this evening, Café Rouge will add liverwurst, headcheese, spit-roasted leg of pork, meatballs, cured pork chops, and other dishes to its usual menu. Jude will be on hand to answer questions and provide information on his Berkshire and Chester White breeds. 1782 4th St. at Hearst, Berkeley, 510-525 1440.

There are some changes at ~GARIBALDIS ON COLLEGE~: the restaurant is closing on August 17th, and when it reopens, half of it will be like the San Francisco Garibaldi's (sexy vibe, narrow space, 80–90 seats, dark woods, smaller bar area), while the other half (the bar area) will transform into a second Marzano location. Garibaldis will also reopen with a new (and more affordable) menu—executive chef Scott Sasaki has been working with Marzano's exec chef, Rob Holt, on the new dishes. The Marzano part will open first on August 24th, while the Garibaldis side is scheduled for September 1st. 5356 College Ave. at Bryant, Oakland, 510-595-4000.

Some folks have been asking me about the timing of the second location of ~BAKESALE BETTY~ in Uptown/Franklin Square; I spoke with Alison Barakat, who said things have gotten delayed, so fingers crossed they open the second location in six months or so. 2228 Broadway at West Grand Ave., Oakland.

Carlos Altamirano of Mochica and Piqueo's is opening a third Peruvian location, ~COSTANERA~, in Montara this October. It's opening in the former Chart House, a three-story, 10,000-square-foot restaurant overlooking the Pacific Ocean that will be redesigned by Michael Brennan (Miss Pearl's Jam House, Marinitas, Cortez). Brennan will use natural elements, creating a more romantic atmosphere. The menu will feature up to ten ceviches from the Cevicheria Bar, and as many as 30 Peruvian dishes, plus the full bar will feature handcrafted pisco cocktails, Southern American wines, and quality beers. 8150 Cabrillo Hwy., Montara.