September 29, 2009

September 29, 2009

I think this week is unofficial San Francisco Restaurant Opening Week. Can't believe how many places are opening their doors. Did someone say doors? Well then, let's start with the much awaited ~OUT THE DOOR~ in Pacific Heights. This latest location from Charles Phan opens for breakfast this Wednesday with both American (soft scrambled eggs) and Vietnamese dishes (pate chaud with pork or chicken, beignets and Vietnamese coffee) and then there's this: braised beef brisket with farm-poached eggs, caramelized onions, and crispy potatoes, meow. (Chef de cuisine Grace Nguyen is going to be making a lot of that dish, I have a feeling.) OTD will be open continuously for lunch and dinner; hours are 8am–10pm Mon–Fri, and 9am–10pm on the weekends. I'm excited to come in and try the new lunch offering: Com Phån, a classic Vietnamese lunch with separate plates of vegetables, proteins, broths, and rice, and the soon-to-be-signature grilled pork chop ($14) with pickled vegetables and duck egg quiche looks wickedly good. Dinner has appetizers like grilled meatballs ($10) with vermicelli and pineapple-anchovy sauce that you wrap in red leaf lettuce (yes, please), plus some classic entrées like chicken claypot ($13) and the cellophane noodles with Dungeness crab ($16) are also on there. And pastry chef Chucky Dugo is going to be whipping up some of his sweet magic. A few more deets: there's local wine on tap, and the space designed by Olle Lundberg has a long counter, black slate floors, subway tile, and a baker's table used as a communal table. 2232 Bush St. at Fillmore, 415-923-9575.

More Fillmore action: ~SPQR~ reopens tomorrow after closing for a refresh and ramp up of the new menu from recently hired chef Matt Accarrino (formerly Craft Los Angeles, Per Se). The updated look now includes banquettes, and the floors, walls, and countertops have been redone. And get this: you can now make a reservation via OpenTable (but a portion of seats will be left for walk-ins). As for the menu, Accarrino will continue to offer rustic and Roman-inspired dishes, although I hear dishes will be more composed, showcasing a bit of a refined touch. He also added a spuntino and snacks category, with dishes like friarelli peppers, Meyer lemon, smoked salt, and chili aioli ($9); griddled pecorino with quince, dandelion, and fried chestnuts ($9); and crispy pig ear with pickled jalapeno and cherry tomatoes ($8). (Fear not, the Brussels sprouts are still on there.) Pastas include a ricotta raviolo, gnocchi, and spaghetti carbonara, while mains feature oxtail and grilled short rib, or farro and date-stuffed quail, with nothing over $20 (check it all out online). Lookin' forward to trying these new dishes. 1911 Fillmore St. at Bush, 415-771-7779.

This Thursday October 1st is the opening of Michael and Lindsay Tusk's ~QUINCE~ in the former Myth space. You can read all about the style and layout in this week's hardhat, but some sample menu items include Paine Farm squab with Tropea onion, fig, and licorice; pappardelle with suckling pig, wild fennel, and black cabbage; rabbit porchetta with farro, escarole, and grape; and duck "tagliata" with quince, turnip, and Barolo Chinato sauce. (I am also looking forward to the à la minute risotto that will be offered—just in time for fall.) In addition to the option of ordering dishes à la carte, there will also be five-course ($85) and eight-course ($115) tasting menus available. Dinner is Mon–Sat 5:30pm–10pm, with bar and lounge service starting at 5pm. Speaking of the bar: Scott Baird and Josh Harris of 15 Romolo/Bon Vivants Consulting are behind the drink program, which will be featuring "elegant, light, and very articulated cocktails" that won't get you wrecked before your appetizers arrive. How timely, quince is in season, so there will be some quince bitters (the drinks will be highlighting farm-fresh ingredients), and there's also a wet house martini in the works. Am also getting ready to buckle up before cracking open the wine list from wine director David Lynch. And so, a new chapter begins for one of San Francisco's most adored restaurants. 470 Pacific Ave. at Montgomery, 415-775-8500.

This Thursday October 1st is also the opening of ~PI BAR~, from Richard Rosen of Chenery Park, in the Mission. The 49-seater will be serving a pared-down version of the menu during the opening days: look for a few salads, pizza (of course), a couple apps, and maybe a pasta dish or two and possibly a sandwich. Hours are 3pm–midnight nightly. 1432 Valencia St. at 25th St., 415-970-9670.

At last, I have uncovered the mystery of what is moving into the now-closed El Raigon space in North Beach, ~DON PISTO'S~. Pete Mrabe, currently a manager at Betelnut, is behind the project. He hopes to open by Halloween, but only the ABC can ultimately decide the timing. Once the doors open, there will be Mexican street food on the menu, from five kinds of tacos (including prawns, carne asada, fish, and confit-ed carnitas) to ceviches to burros (little Baja-style burritos), plus classic side dishes like elote (yeah, in that awesome grilled corn and mayo combo), fried yucca, and more. The salsas and guac will be made continuously throughout the day, so they're always fresh each hour. The plan is to serve dinner nightly from 5pm–midnight, and until 2am Friday and Saturday nights. Will keep you posted on when the cervezas will be flowin'—especially since a liquor store chain in Rosarito inspired the name (and is a slang term for "Captain Drunk"). Hic. 510 Union St. at Grant.

Mark your calendar, sushi fanatics: ~SEBO~ will be closed starting tonight (September 29th) and will reopen for dinner Tuesday October 6th. They are repainting and freshening up, and one more change is there will be a new face you will see in the kitchen. Fukashi is leaving to go to Thailand with his wife (sob sob, he will be missed!), and taking his place is Masaki Sasaki, an old friend of Michael Black's (and a big inspiration). Some may recognize him from the St. Regis, Kantaro, or some places in New York. 517 Hayes St. at Octavia, 415-864-2122. (Photo by Michael Black.)

Sunday October 4th is the kickoff for season two of Food Network's ~THE NEXT IRON CHEF~, and the first episode will feature local talent chef Dominique Crenn of Luce at 9pm ET/PT. Good luck Dominique!

Rumble. Yes, that is my stomach talking. I learned that chef Ronnie New at ~MAGNOLIA GASTROPUB~ is doing Southern-inspired brunch on Sundays, with tasty dishes like shrimp and Anson Mills grits; chicken and waffles (the new dish of the year?); and pheasant eggs and toast with sautéed leeks, portobello mushroom, and parmesan cheese. There are also classic egg dishes, house-made snausages, pancakes, Blue Bottle coffee, and more. Brunch is served from 10am–2:30pm. Come hungry. 1398 Haight St. at Masonic, 415-864-7468.

More news with a Southern drawl: ~MAVERICK~ is hosting their annual Southern Fried Night this Wednesday September 30th. Slated for the menu: heirloom melon salad with fried country ham, fried green tomatoes, fried frog legs, fried alligator balls, country-fried steak, and other fried numbers like a fried chorizo pie and a fry-up with pork croquettes, beer battered shrimp, fried eggplant and zucchini, and tater tots. Yes, the operative word is fried. Bring your Lipitor. 3316 17th St. at Mission, 415-863-3061.

Changes over at ~CIRCA~: according to permits, previous owner Mick Suverkrubbe sold it to new owner Guri Walia. Chef Erik Hopfinger has been let go, and I hear there is a plan to move in a different direction with the menu. But since things are reportedly business as usual until a new chef is decided upon, it may be your last chance to get your lobster mac and cheese fix. Stand by for an update soon. 2001 Chestnut St. at Fillmore, 415-351-0175.

Ready for meal deals? Of course you are.

Does ~NAMU'S~ Inner Richmond address feel too off the beaten path for you? Does the lame parking shituation over there deter you? Well, you should dig their new promo called Taxi Fare Tuesdays, because during the month of October, Namu will deduct the cost of your cab fare to get there from your bill. Just bring in your receipt. See, you are one step closer to their wonderful kalbi. 439 Balboa St. at 6th Ave., 415-386-8332. (Photo from

Over on the Embarcadero, ~BUTTERFLY~ has launched a late-night happy hour menu on Friday and Saturday nights from 10pm–12am. You'll find price reductions on house-ground Wagyu beef sliders and kalua pig with butter lettuce wraps, along with $5 top-shelf cocktail specials, bottled beers for $3, and featured wine by the glasses for $5. Pier 33 at Bay St., 415-864-8999.

You a big theatergoer? ~GRAND CAFE BRASSERIE AND BAR~ is offering a $39 package (plus tax and gratuity) from now through the month of November, which includes a three-course dinner and valet parking, with an optional wine pairing for $15. 501 Geary St. at Taylor, 415-292-0101.

A few more additions and updates to the lunch round-up I did last week: first, I was sorry to hear the ~4505 MEATS/TACOLICIOUS/NAMU FRIDAY LUNCHTIME BBQ~ that was going to be at Folsom and 2nd Street has been put on hold due to some Fire Marshal issues. Hopefully they'll find another location to fire up the grills soon.

~BAR BAMBINO~ in the Mission has gotten in on the boxed lunch act. Theirs comes with a panino (like porchetta, or tuna with lemon aioli), a daily salad, a sweet treat, and an orange or lemon soda for $12. You can call ahead to have it ready for pick up, or an order of 10 or more can be delivered for free. Available Tue–Sat 11am–4pm. 2931 16th St. at S. Van Ness, 415-701-VINO.

Jason B. reports ~MINT CAFÉ~ is opening a second location (supposedly this week): this one will be under the San Francisco Public Main Library. Think wraps, sandwiches, salads, and the like. 100 Larkin St. at Grove.

Some special menus around town: Starting this Friday October 2nd, ~ONE MARKET~ is offering the Weekly Beast. Chef Mark Dommen will be featuring whole-animal menus every Friday and Saturday night, ranging from Duroc pigs to Muscovy ducks to beef. This week kicks off with goat, with goat neck ragu with potato gnocchi and parmesan cheese; roasted goat rack/loin with polenta, rabe, and olives; and spit-roasted goat leg with Moroccan spices, eggplant, and peppers. The Weekly Beast menu will be available both à la carte and as a five-course prix fixe for $49 per person, plus half-glass wine pairings for $20. For a full schedule of upcoming menus, visit the site. 1 Market St. at Steuart, 415-777-5577.

On the opposite side of the eating spectrum, this weekend (October 3rd–4th) is the 10th annual ~WORLD VEG FESTIVAL~. There will be speakers, booths selling ethnic and/or vegan foods, and vegan-friendly merchandise. The event runs from 10am–6pm both days, and requests a $6 door donation (free for children, students, and seniors all day). San Francisco County Fair Building, 9th Ave. at Lincoln Way, inside Golden Gate Park.

And Sunday October 4th is the kickoff for Gourmet Vegan Week at ~SUPPERCLUB RESTAURANT~. Executive chef Guus Wickenhagen will present a four-course vegan menu for $55. Seatings at 7pm. Reservations are recommended: 415-348-0900. 657 Harrison St. at Hawthorne.

Two days left to donate to ~SLOW FOOD~, when any amount will make you a member (it's normally $60 per year). As of October 1st, this special September membership offer will be over.

A couple cool culinary events in the East Bay: this Thursday October 1st, ~PEKO-PEKO JAPANESE CATERING~ is hosting a one-night only "popup izakaya" at Guerilla Cafe in Berkeley. It will open for drinks and dinner at 5pm and go until late. The space is tiny, so small parties are best. 1620 Shattuck Ave. at Cedar.

And this Saturday October 3rd is a fall brunch tasting at Hotel Shattuck Plaza in Berkeley with ~THENTIC TASTING~. Domaine Carneros and Square One will showcase their sparkling wines and organic vodka, with fresh produce from Frog Hollow and Purity Organic. Scott Howard from FIVE will be offering assorted hot items, plus dairy from Straus Family Creamery; meat and eggs from local farms; pastries; cheeses and salumi; and more. For a limited time only, you can get a discount price with the purchase of two tickets. The cost is $35 per person, or $65 for two by entering the promotional code "hotelshattuck" for tablehopper readers. To learn more and get tickets, click here. 11am–3pm. 2086 Allston Way at Shattuck, Berkeley.

Meanwhile, south of SF, ~LA COSTANERA~ [NSFW: seriously loud seagull squawking!] in Montara Beach is opening this Friday October 2nd for dinner. It's anticuchos time! This modern Peruvian fusion restaurant is from chef/owner Carlos Altamirano (Mochica, Piqueos). It's a three-story location designed by Michael Brennan and is right on the coast. Victoria D'Amato-Moran did the bar menu, featuring Pisco-based cocktails, plus domestic and imported Peruvian beers and wines. 8150 Cabrillo Hwy., Montara Beach, 650-728-1600.

And lastly, while this has absolutely nothing to do with restaurants, I know many of you like to cook, so I thought you should know about ~FOOD52~, a new cooking site from Amanda Hesser of the New York Times and her friend Merrill Stubbs. The site is filling up with user-generated recipes that you vote on, and the winning recipes will be assembled in a cookbook at the end of a year. This week's topics: mushroom soup, and recipes with paprika.