October 6, 2009

October 6, 2009

A while back I mentioned Jeff Banker and Lori Baker were opening their restaurant in the (now former) Quince space. And since that mention, a few more details have emerged. First, the name is going to be ~BAKER AND BANKER~ (with last names like theirs, of course they had to be the restaurant's name). The concept is a New American neighborhood place, but with Banker's French and Italian cooking background, expect some influences from those countries, plus elements of Southeast Asian cooking, Japanese, and more. Most items on the menu—like quail, sweetbreads, and squab—will be around $20–$25, but expect spendier cuts like a New York steak or lamb to ring in at a little more. They also just hired Doug Johnson as the wine director and manager—he was most recently at Postrio for four years—and he will be putting together a strong wine program, with many fantastic bottles under $100. Michael Brennan is redoing the interior, which will feature a timeless look, one that's warm and full of wood. Another exciting tidbit: the plan for downstairs is to have a bakery, and really serve the neighborhood. And by serve the neighborhood, we're talking about Four Barrel French press coffee (and eventually espresso), breads, sandwiches, cakes, and dessert, all from a counter and pastry case for easy ordering and pickup. Permits are still underway, and if everything goes well, they'll meet their mid-November targeted opening date. I'll keep you posted. 1701 Octavia St. at Bush.

Meanwhile, in downtown land, things are coming along for ~RESTAURANT DUCROIX~, which is moving into the former Los Socios space. The brothers Etienne and Remy Ducroix are third-generation chefs from Burgundy, France, and are planning to launch a menu that is classic, traditional, and affordable, with everyday dishes ranging from $9–$12 for lunch. Some items on the menu: stews, ham cooked in cider, pommes dauphine (fried potato and pate a choux, you do the math), and sweet and savory crepes. They are launching with lunch during the week and a happy hour (featuring canapés, pate, and cheeses), with dinner to come later. Etienne worked for Café Liaison in Tiburon, and Remy was recently at Amelie. They hope to open the casual 30-seat space in the next couple weeks. Opening hours will be Mon–Fri 11am–3pm, and happy hour from 4:30pm–6:30pm. 690 Sacramento St. at Kearny, 415-391-7195.

Brunch regulars will soon be wondering what the change of ownership notice is doing in the window at ~ELLA'S~. The financial partner to current chef-owner Matt Skov is moving on, and unfortunately Skov wasn't able to work out a revised lease with the landlord. As for the timing of the transition, it isn't clear when it will happen since it depends on how long escrow lasts. The new owners reportedly intend on keeping the same staff and food, and Skov is planning to pass on all the Ella's recipes. Once the change is complete, he will be busy focusing on his other venture, Blue Fog Market. Best of luck, Matt! (I used to work with his dear wife in advertising about ten years ago, and will never forget the lunch he made for us when he was working at Campton Place.) 500 Presidio Ave. at California, 415-441-5669.

A tablehopper reader (and friend) reported to me on a meal they had at ~CHILANGO~, a new Mexican restaurant (not a taqueria, although you can order tacos—just no burritos). It opened in the former Azteca space, right next to Chow on Church. After a little more sleuthing, I discovered the chef is Roberto Aguiar Cruz, who has been cooking at Mexico DF for the past two years. If you know what "chilango" means, then you'll understand the concept better: it's the name for a person who goes to Mexico City to live. The menu features street food and antojitos from Mexico City, and like Mexico DF, uses quality meats (Niman Ranch) and ingredients. Dishes include flautas, chile rellenos, pozole, sopes, and huaraches. There are also tacos de costilla (shortrib), buche, and chuleta, carnitas by the pound, and Mexico City-style tortas. Can't wait to try the organic chips, and the tortillas made to order with cactus in the masa (hence there's a slight green hue to them). I also learned the wine list features only Latino winemakers (primarily from Napa and Sonoma), and in an effort to promote them, the wines by the bottle aren't marked up. You'll be able to finish your meal with coffee from Chiapas. Brunch will be launching soon. Hours for now are 11:30am–10pm nightly. 235 Church St. at Market, 415-552-5700.

According to Noe Valley Blog, ~NOETECA~, the café-wine bar project I mentioned some months ago that was going into the old Last Laugh space, has opened. Been having trouble getting my messages returned, so we'll just have to lean on the website for these sparse details: brunch is served 8pm–3pm, and dinner is 5pm–10pm. 1551 Dolores St. at 29th St., 415-824-5524.

Looks like things will be on up and up at ~FOG CITY DINER~: "the Bills" of Real Restaurants have asked Ed Carew of The Cottage Eatery in Tiburon to consult on the menu (Carew previously used to work for them at Tonno Rosso, and was at Florio for two years). He will be updating the menu over the next two months, integrating more local and sustainable ingredients on the menu, and trying to get locals back for lunch and dinner. 1300 Battery St. at The Embarcadero, 415-982-2000.

Wow, this project was fast: ~PATXI'S CHICAGO PIZZA~ opened their second location in the city today in the Marina (thanks to reader James Y. for the tip!). The spacious location will have 119 seats, with a bar, outdoor dining, and a mezzanine. How convenient, the Bar Method is right across the street, so you can feel better about tucking into a deep-dish pie. Hours are Sun–Thu 11am–10pm, and Fri–Sat 11am–12am. 3318 Fillmore St. at Lombard, 415-345-3995.

Things are getting close for the 24-seat ~ACME BURGERHAUS~ in the Western Addition. In fact, it may even open this Friday. To recap, there will be custom-mixed burger patties (beef, chicken, buffalo, lamb, and American Kobe), six beers on tap, and salads. Happy hour will run from 3pm–8pm, with beer for $1.95. Since the opening is TBD, call before heading over. Hours will be Mon–Thu 11am–12am, and Fri–Sat from 11am until 2am or even 3am. 559 Divisadero St. at Hayes, 415-346-3212.

FYI, ~IRONSIDE~ is now serving dinner. On the menu: porchetta, pizzas, a bison burger, and more. You can check out a PDF of the menu here. 680A 2nd St. at Townsend, 415-896-1127.

Just down the street, tablehopper reader-about-town Mark P. alerted me that the "For Lease" sign in the window of Jack Falstaff had come down. After a little wait, permits reveal the new tenant is ~OZONE THAI~ of Polk Street (I am a big fan of their catfish salad). They hope to open by October 21st if inspections and signoffs go according to plan. Ozone will be open for lunch Mon–Fri, dinner nightly, and late-night bites in the bar after 10pm. 598 Second St. at Brannan.

Some tasty-sounding items on menus around town: the brothers at ~NAMU~ are at it again, this time adding KFC (Korean fried chicken) to their menu (one of my favorite things to eat, mos def, which is why you'll find a "KFC" section in my book!). They're using smaller local chickens from Marin Sun Farms—you get a half chicken, served with classic pickled daikon cubes, a side of Namu's loco moco gravy, and chojang Korean chili sauce. The bird is lightly steamed in an aromatic brine and then battered and fried twice in rice husk oil, and then tossed in a spicy and tangy sauce that is an old family recipe. Seriously, sign me up. It's $28, and good for two to share. Available nightly, and on Sunday nights with half-price Korean OB beer. 439 Balboa St. at 5th Ave., 415-386-8332.

Speaking of things you can eat with your hands, I got a note from Dylan MacNiven, the owner of ~WOODHOUSE FISH CO.~, that the Fillmore Street location is offering this killer-sounding dish: Pacu Fish Ribs. The Pacu fish is a Brazilian freshwater fish that is (reportedly) farmed is a sustainable environment, mostly due to the fact that it's vegetarian. As you can see from the pic, it's cut to look like traditional spare ribs, and come with BBQ sauce glaze, coleslaw, and cornbread with honey butter for $13. 1914 Fillmore St. at Bush, 415-437-2722.

More meaty goodness: last week I tweeted about iconic butcher Dario Cecchini coming to town to do a butchery demo, ~THE ART OF MEAT CUTTING~ on October 24th. Yup, he's the utterly memorable character from Bill Buford's Heat. He'll be breaking down a steer and pig, and considering his family has been doing it for 250 years, you'll be seeing some serious skills. Doors open at 1pm; the demonstration runs from 2pm–5:30pm, plus there will be an intermission (snacks and beverages provided). A book signing will follow from 5:30pm–6:30pm with Douglas Gayeton, artist of the just-published Slow: Life In a Tuscan Town. (Books will be available at a special rate.) $275 for the event, $200 of which is tax deductible, as it is a fundraiser for Marin Organic. Click here to purchase tickets or call the Fort Mason box office at 415-345-7575. There are group rates available if you purchase through Marin Organic at 415-663-9667. For any company, restaurant or organization that purchases five tickets or more, tickets are $225 each. 20 tickets or more are $200 each. (Please note: tickets are limited!) Cowell Theater, Fort Mason. (Photo collage by Douglas Gayeton.)

In case you can't shell out for the Cecchini event, you should still make sure to check out the show of Douglas Gayeton's amazing photographs from his new book, Slow: Life in a Tuscan Town. I got the opportunity to see his prints last year at Fort Mason, and got lost for over an hour looking at them and reading them. They're extraordinary. This Thursday October 8th, ~18 REASONS~ is hosting the book signing, wine tasting, cheese sampling, ice-cream scooping, and opening show reception for his book. Bi-Rite wine buyer Trac Le will explain the "slowness" of biodynamic wine, and Bi-Rite cheese monger Anthea Stolz will discuss artisanal cheese making. Trac and Anthea will present at around 7:30pm, with tastings to follow. (Cool fact: Gayeton lives on a farm in Petaluma with his wife, Laura, owner of Laloo's Goat Milk Ice Cream!) $5 members; $10 general. 7pm–9pm. 593 Guerrero at 18th St.

New Orleans-based chef ~JOHN BESH~ will be in San Francisco from October 14th–15th to celebrate the launch of his first cookbook My New Orleans. From the press release: "My New Orleans is far from just-another-chef's cookbook—it is the urgent story of preserving a region's rituals and livelihood through raising food well, cooking it with joy, being mindful of the fragility and hardship that swirl around the city many Americans love most." Besh has also played a big part in the rebuilding of post-Katrina New Orleans. He will be doing a book signing on Wednesday October 14th at Omnivore Books from 6pm–7pm, and then a demo and book signing with CUESA at the Ferry Building on Thursday the 15th from 12pm–1pm. That evening, he will also be hosting a book dinner at 6:30pm at Left Bank restaurant in Larkspur, part of Book Passage's "Cooks with Books" dinner series (more details on the dinner here).

Next Saturday October 17th, there are a variety of food-related ~LITQUAKE~ events during the LitCrawl, including Meatpaper at Bar Tartine with Marissa Guggiana, Heather Smith, and Chris Ying from 6pm–7pm. At the same time, Edible San Francisco and 18 Reasons are hosting Novella Carpenter, who will read from her best-selling book Farm City (which I have been totally digging, by the way), joined by Jeanette Ferrary, author of M.F.K Fisher and Me: A Memoir of Food and Friendship, farmer/philosopher Andy Griffin of Mariquita Farms, and Molly Watson, contributing editor at Sunset and About.com. There are a variety of events and readings during the other time slots as well; for full details on Litquake, click here.

There's something to be said for eating a little more healthy. Or a lot more. Anyway, if you'd like to start mastering cooking with whole grains, chef Kelsie Kerr of ~THE COOKING SCHOOL AT CAVALLO POINT LODGE~ is teaching a class on how to cook a variety of grains and delicious dishes featuring them, like a polenta torta, quinoa, farro or wheat berry salad, brown rice pilaf, and whole-grain pancakes. The class is on Wednesday October 14th from 6pm–8:30pm. $85 per person. The Cooking School at Cavallo Point Lodge, Sausalito, 888-651-2003.

Let's head across the other bridge: opening in Downtown Oakland this Friday is ~THE LAYOVER MUSIC BAR & LOUNGE~. The team behind this project includes certified green builders Tim Martinez and Christi Vaughn, RaeAnne Turner, Prozac Turner (music producer), and Phillip Mauro from Foreign Cinema, Laszlo, and Rye. The bohemian chic bar is approximately 1,500 square feet and will feature specialty cocktails as well as live music nightly, including DJs, bands, and mixed media artists. The bar is slated to be a certified green business in the winter, and they will also be opening an art gallery next door in mid-November. 1517 Franklin St. at 15th St., Oakland, 510-834-1517.

Just a final reminder about the ~SOUL FOOD FARM~ auction bidding that's chock full of fabulous prizes (running now through October 10th) and the upcoming raffle, with dozens of $100 and $50 gift certificates to the Bay Area's best restaurants, signed cookbooks, gift baskets, and much more (winners to be drawn at the Pizzaiolo party). About that party: it will be at Pizzaiolo this coming Sunday October 11th from 1pm–5pm; admission is $14 and includes one entry in the raffle. You don't have to be present to win a raffle prize; all winners will be notified by email. Raffle tickets are $5 each, or five for $20. They will be available for sale through Saturday October 10th online, and also in person at the Pizzaiolo event. Everyone who has donated money to Soul Food Farm already via PayPal will get one raffle ticket in thanks. Read more details on the Soul Food Farm blog. 5008 Telegraph Ave. at 50th St., Oakland.

Now, I don't normally cover wine country events (I'd need to send out a second tablehopper, seriously), but on the heels of my trip to Spain, and my love of jamón iberico, well, I had to include this one: executive chef Sean O'Toole (of the stunning Bardessono in Yountville) is hosting an event called ~ALL HAMS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL~, the first dinner in a three-part culinary series. On Monday October 19th, guests will have the rare opportunity to taste three distinct varieties of jamón ibérico–or pata negra—and to learn the story behind this centuries-old curing practice. Chefs Sylvain Portay (formerly the executive chef of The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton San Francisco, and the consulting corporate chef for Group Alain Ducasse) and Sean O'Toole will prepare a four-course Spanish dinner paired with select Spanish wines chosen by Master Sommelier Emmanuel Kemiji. 6:30pm: jamón ibérico tasting and seminar with Alberto Solis; 7:30pm: hors d'oeuvres and cava on the patio; and dinner is at 8pm. $135, space is limited. 6526 Yount St., Yountville, 707-204 6030.