October 20, 2009

October 20, 2009

Yesterday was a red-letter day in San Francisco. Actually, a red book one, since the ~MICHELIN GUIDE~ released its San Francisco ratings. Congrats to one-star newcomers Aziza, Commis, and Luce, and up in wine country, étoile, Santé, Solbar, Terra, and Ubuntu. More on the local scene: Quince also got its star back after the hocus pocus that surrounded their move to their new location. Michael Mina was bumped down to one star, while COI maintained its two stars. Congrats to all the winners, and to any disgruntled losers, I have a little bobble-head Michelin doll you are welcome to bash into tiny pieces if you want to take out some aggression, just drop me a line.

A couple new openings this Wednesday October 21st: in SoMa, say hello to ~THE IRON CACTUS~. This new casual cantina/taqueria from The Creamery folks is opening in... (surprise!) the old Gilt Edge Creamery location, across from the Caltrans station. A look at the menu reveals burritos (for $6.95, and the price includes sour cream), tacos, quesadillas, salads, and special plates like enchiladas or tacos, all made with hormone-free meats. Here are more details from the press release: "Much of the interior is recycled wood from the original Creamery and the tall barrel-shaped ceilings with exposed wood, left untouched from the time it was a depot stop back in the 1950s, create a very authentic cantina-style atmosphere. Above the barrel-shaped ceiling is a huge skylight that brings in lots of natural light and together with bright yellow faux finishes, wrought iron panels, and exposed concrete. The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating for up to 100 people." You can also fax or call your order in. Hours are Mon–Wed 11am–9pm, Thu–Sat 11am–10pm. 683 4th St. at Townsend, 415-777-1010.

And as I mentioned last week, ~PANAM~, a new restaurant, bar, and lounge, is opening in the former Frisee space in the Castro this Wednesday. Open nightly for dinner and drinks 5pm–1am, plus there will be a weekend brunch from 10am–4pm. 2367 Market St. at Castro, 415-556-6200.

Got some details on the new restaurant opening in the Julie's Supper Club space, and no, the name will not be Julie's III (lame!). It's going to be called ~RADIUS~, and they will be serving farm-to-table California cuisine with a French influence. All the meats, produce, dairy, beer, and wine will be sourced from a 100-mile radius, hence the name. (It will be open nightly.) The plan is to open the restaurant by February, but in the meantime, they're converting the old dance floor section of Julie's into a cafe and takeaway area with a separate entrance, which will be open for lunch and dinner by the end of the year.

The executive chef will be Kelly Hughett, who has quite the background, but highlights include four years under Sylvain Portay at The Ritz Carlton San Francisco, Mix Restaurant in Las Vegas, Alain Ducasse's Plaza Athénée and Aux Lyonnais, the A.D.F. School for Professional Chefs, two years at Louis XV in Monaco, and sous chef at Adour Restaurant in New York. Mon dieu. She will be moving back to her native California from New York in the next couple of months. Radius is an owner-operated restaurant from partners Jon Whitehead, and Yong and Christian Baker (Christian has worked at Aqua and The Ritz Carlton, and has been working at an architecture firm for the last seven years). They are currently going through demo right now—Julie's bar will remain, but it will be beer and wine only, FYI. Seating will probably be 50 in the main restaurant and 25 in the cafe. You can follow their progress on Twitter at @radiussf. 1123 Folsom St. at Langton.

Ages ago I mentioned the organic vegan Mexican restaurant coming from the Cafe Gratitude folks, ~GRACIAS MADRE~. Well, it's getting close: the opening is slated for November. Tortillas and tamales will be handmade from organic heirloom corn grown on Matthew and Terces Englehart's Be Love Farm in Vacaville. The menu will also highlight beans, corn, squash, chiles, and spices, along with greens, vegetables, and nut-based "cheeses" (if you've eaten at Cafe Gratitude, you'll be familiar with these "cheeses"). The idea for the restaurant began when the Engleharts were inspired to visit some of their employees' hometowns in Mexico. If you imagine you'll be a regular customer at Gracias Madre, check their site for details on their immediate "Builders Card" offering. I'll share more details on the project as it gets closer. 2211 Mission St. at 18th St.

This may be in the old news category, but ~JAY'S DELI~ in Potrero Hill has closed after two years in business (it was the deli in the former Klein's location). 501 Connecticut St. at 20th St.

As a daughter of a former deli owner, I was hoping to be able to meet up with author David Sax of ~SAVE THE DELI: IN SEARCH OF PERFECT PASTRAMI, CRUSTY RYE AND THE HEART OF JEWISH DELICATESSEN~, his new book dedicated to the preservation of the Jewish delicatessen. The book's cover shot of a stacked pastrami sandwich keeps making me hungry. Alas, my schedule isn't allowing it, but I did want to mention a couple of his Bay Area appearances: on Saturday October 24th, Sax will be at Saul's Restaurant & Deli for a lecture, Q&A, and book signing at 4pm (1475 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley). There will be a tasting plate on the menu that day, comparing grass-fed Marin Sun Farms corned beef; grass-raised and corn-finished Niman Ranch pastrami; and top conventional/factory farmed suppliers for Katz's in NY and Langer's in NY, plus house-made sodas. On Monday October 26th, he'll be at Book Passage in San Francisco for a talk and Q&A at 6pm (1 Ferry Building, #42, San Francisco, 415-835-1020).

More meaty news: ~DARIO CECCHINI'S~ artisan butchery demo this weekend has been moved to nopa, which is generously underwriting the event. Which means the steep price has dropped significantly to $175. The demo is now from 1pm–4pm, when Cecchini will break down a steer (my second in a week) and a pig. Read more here for info about how to get tickets. Hope to see you there! 560 Divisadero St. at Hayes.

Starting Sunday November 1st, ~1300 ON FILLMORE~ will extend its gospel brunch to every Sunday, with house band Future Perfect alternating Sundays with other local musicians. Brunch is priced at $39 per person, and includes a Bellini or mimosa and coffee and tea, plus the performance and a three-course prix-fixe meal. Seatings are offered at 11am or 1pm. 1300 Fillmore St. at Eddy, 415-771-7100.

Since this event tends to fill up quickly, I thought you should know the 20th Wild Game Week will be held at the ~BIG 4~ from Tuesday November 3rd–7th. Highlights from chef Gloria Ciccarone-Nehls's menu include piranha, alligator, Himalayan yak Wellington, and wild paella with giant crispy frog legs, house made rabbit-rattlesnake sausage, Nigerian salt prawns, and mussels. Rawr. 1075 California St. at Taylor, 415-771-1140.

More special dinners are coming up (and these in particular help me cope with any sadness I have over tomato season ending): truffle dinners! ~DELFINA'S~ will be on Tuesday November 3rd and Wednesday the 4th, and they will be pouring Barolo (and possibly Barbaresco) flights. (They will have truffles and Barolo again for their 11-year anniversary dinners November 17th–19th.) Past dishes you could have truffle shaved over have included kuri squash sformatino with fonduta and chestnuts, and hand-cut tajarin in bianco (butter, cream, and Parmigiano). You can read more on their Facebook page. 3621 18th St. at Dolores, 415-552-4055.

And if you're in the South Bay/Peninsula, ~DONATO ENOTECA~ will have white truffles from November 11th–22nd (or while supplies last) shaved atop dishes in a special tartufi bianchi menu (the four-course truffle tasting menu is approximately $125), or you can choose from à la carte dishes and have the truffles shaved on top. 1041 Middlefield Rd., Redwood City, 650-701-1000.

In the East Bay, a couple new projects have opened this week: ~SUMMER KITCHEN BAKE SHOP~ from chef-owners Paul Arenstam (Americano) and wife Charlene Reis and chef Greer Nuttall. You can check out the menu of take-away fare, which contains soup, vegetable side dishes, main dishes for lunch and dinner, and sandwiches, plus baked goods, tarts, and more, all made with local and seasonal ingredients. Open daily from 9am–9pm. 2944 College Ave. at Ashby, Berkeley, 510-981-0538.

And ~BLUE BOTTLE~ has opened their new roastery, kitchen, and cafe location in the Jack London Square District of Oakland. Hours for now are Mon–Fri 8am–2pm; follow them on Twitter at @bluebottleroast. 300 Webster St. at 3rd St., Oakland, 510-653-3394. (Photo courtesy of Blue Bottle photostream.)

More Jack London Square news: Eric Tucker (executive chef at Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco), Lacey Sher (former owner of Down To Earth Restaurant in Red Bank, New Jersey) and Linda Braz will be opening ~ENCUENTRO CAFE AND WINE BAR~ early in November. It will be a neighborhood wine bar and café featuring enoteca-style organic and local vegetarian cuisine (think bocadillos, salads, cheeses, tapas, and chocolates). To drink, there will be organic/sustainable wines, small brewery beers, organic teas, coffee, and artisanal non-alcoholic beverages. There will be a combo of bar and table seating, and a simple look fashioned from recycled materials. Hours will be Mon–Fri 11am–2pm, Wed–Thu 5pm–10pm, and Fri–Sat 5pm–11pm. 202 2nd St. at Jackson, 510-832-9643.

Errata (I love this section)...

This isn't a really erratum, actually. More like a mailbag item. Anyway. A reader wrote in, "Just an F.Y.I. for you to pass down to Namu's restaurant owners to tweak this a bit: ‘Namu's loco moco gravy.' In Spanish, moco means ‘booger,' so any Latin, Hispanic, or Spanish person reading this on a menu may be completely turned off. A crazy booger gravy just isn't appetizing! Pretty funny though.
~A concerned reader, J."

Funny indeed, J. So I wrote back to her, explaining the Hawaiian origin of the loco moco dish, but of course had to share this hilarious moco fact with the owners of Namu, who had this to say, "So funny, we have encountered that misunderstanding from day one when one of my Mexican line cooks pointed it out... but he still loves to eat it!" So, there's our booger joke for the week.

Now, this is a true erratum. Last week, when I was copying the contents of the ~BURGER BAR~ menu into my column late at night, I failed to notice the mistake of this entry, the "Atlantic King Salmon Steak." Reader Gary writes: "I'm a little confused. I'm familier [stet] with Atlantic Salmon and King Salmon but not Atlantic King Salmon. Please tell me this was just a typo." Not quite a typo like that little misspelling of familiar, Gary, but check this out: Hubert Keller totally had a new hybrid species of salmon created just for Burger Bar, and it's only a paltry $8.50 to have it in a burger! Here's more from the menu: "This delicious omega 3 rich salmon comes from the icy waters of the North Atlantic. You will love its luxurious and velvety texture. Hand selected and filleted at Burger Bar." Sounds delicious, no? But alas, you were correct, hawk-eye Gary: they're just serving Atlantic salmon. Bon appétit!