February 23, 2010

February 23, 2010
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This past weekend, while I was cruising around town, I had a chance to visit the new ~THE GROVE YERBA BUENA~, which opened in the former Vino Venue space on Mission Street. The space has been radically transformed by Anna Veyna Design LLC, working in cooperation with Macy Architecture: there is room for 148, with a spacious mezzanine, and quite the reclaimed interior, from the floor from an Amish barn to the towering trunks and branches of three spruce and two pine trees brought in from the Grand Canyon and Utah. It has that Grove “salvaged alpine lodge” style, with a variety of seating options, from tables and chairs to church pews, stools from a 1933 Woolworth’s, and old theater seats. Another 35 seats will be added outside in a month or so.

The menu is similar to the other Grove locations, and is from consultant Jeffrey Saad (he was behind Sweet Heat, for those of you who were around here in the ’90s). Wi-Fi is available with food and/or beverage purchase (a $5 purchase gets you 30 minutes, while $10 gets you an hour). Hours are Mon-Fri 7am-11pm, and Sat-Sun 8am-11pm. 690 Mission St. at 3rd St., 415-957-0558.

Note: The next Grove location will be in Hayes Valley, at the corner of Hayes and Franklin. It should be opening in June.

I had a chance to catch up with the ever-busy Elizabeth Falkner about her plans for the new ~CITIZEN CAKE~ location opening on Fillmore Street in mid-March. She described the new look as Victorian-era apothecary-meets-soda fountain (that serves beer and wine, heh). Speaking of beer, she mentioned beer floats, and to that, I say cheers, plus sodas made with gum syrups. She explained the restaurant and pâtisserie will be combined, with 30 seats (including 6 bar seats) open for guests who just want to come in for an éclair and coffee, or a sit-down lunch or dinner (some seats will be held for reservations as well). When you walk in, there will be a big slab of marble acting as the pâtisserie display, and there will be more cakes, pastry items, petits gâteaux, and even ice cream made to order with liquid nitrogen.

New dishes may include a roasted carrot salad with avocado, walnuts, agretti, and a cumin vinaigrette; a mache salad with beets, beef heart, and horseradish; a Cobb chicken sandwich (sounds dangerous); classics like clam chowder and cioppino; mussels and chorizo; a few pizzas; steak frites; chicken Marsala with crispy sweetbreads and king trumpet mushrooms; and pork spare ribs (of course these dishes will feature her trademark twists and layering of flavor). I can’t wait to try the escargots with yuzu-miso butter and fried garlic chips. There will also be smaller bites to nosh on, like arepas (Falkner mentioned one with gravlax, ancho crema, cucumber, and pepitas). Lunch and dinner will be served daily, continuously from 11am-10pm.

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Photo from Yelp user David G.

So first, a little backstory. Yon Davis, the former operator of Yats’ New Orleans Original Po Boys at Jack’s Club, has been doing lunch service at Annie’s Bistro for the past five weeks. He has been operating under the name Creole Soups and Such until his new location in Bayview at 4800 3rd Street opens (which is now looking like July). His rotating menu at Annie’s has included dishes like gumbo, Pacific snapper stew, and etouffée, and now he’s offering his popular shrimp and catfish po’boys, available Thursday through Saturday from 11am-3pm. This week’s menu includes candied pecan salad; yam and crab bisque; Gulf shrimp meunière; rustic gumbo; red beans, rice and sausage; pastalaya; yam and crab bisque; and on Saturday only, soft shell crabs with tasso hollandaise (whoa).

In the what’s new department, starting this week, Davis is now going to be offering a few of his lunchtime dishes for dinner from Wednesday through Saturday from 6pm-9pm. I found it a little interesting that he was going to be in the kitchen in the evenings as well, and it ends up he is slowly taking over Annie’s Bistro—it will be his full-time operation in the beginning of April (the name is still TBD). There will also be some wines specifically paired with his dishes, starting this week. Welcome to the neighborhood. 2819 California St. at Divisadero, 415-922-9669.

A few changes are underway on Potrero Hill: first, ~CHEZ PAPA BISTROT~ has a new chef (it’s been a whirlwind of hires and departures since October 2009, but hopefully this one is the one): Rodolfo Castellanos Reyes. A chef from Oaxaca, Reyes was a sous at Left Bank Brasserie in San Jose, and was then the chef de cuisine for the French Embassy in Mexico City, and he also worked at Jardinière, and was most recently chef de cuisine at La Mar.

Reyes is not only busy with the new Chez Papa menu, but he is also working with owner Jocelyn Bulow on a new project, ~PAPITO~, a taqueria due to open March 20th in the former Delirious shoe store space (just across the street from Goat Hill Pizza). The menu is going to feature organic ingredients, and a variety of seven tacos, either “new school” like duck confit, short rib, or tofu tacos, plus traditional versions, as well as crudos, tortilla soup, tamales, and since he is from Oaxaca, you know Reyes will insure there’s a good mole on there. There will also be burritos (four kinds), three kinds of quesadillas, five entrées (fish and meat), and three or four special desserts. For bevvies, take your pick of some sangria and six kinds of aguas frescas. Hours will be 11:30am-11pm daily, and there will also be weekend brunch.

Bulow is excited to offer Mexican food on Potrero, which he said he wanted to do in the former Baraka space years ago. He mentioned the Maktub Group is going to be sticking with smaller projects (Papito will only have 17 seats inside, and 12 outside under heaters). He said he was just too busy and over-extended, which led to his recent decision to sell his share of Chez Papa Resto in Mint Plaza.

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Opening in the former La Salsa space on California and Fillmore will be ~TACOBAR~, another new taqueria featuring items made with quality ingredients, but still keeping affordability in mind. Owner Jack Schwartz was born in Mexico City, and after doing the circuit in upscale restaurant kitchens (Maya, Citron and À Côté in Oakland) and managing/developing projects like La Calaca Loca taqueria in Oakland, he is excited to finally have his own restaurant. (Schwartz also lives in the Fillmore neighborhood, and wants to do what he can to serve the locals.)

His culinary training will be evident in the preparations of the various dishes, but he still wants to keep things simple, and true to being like a Mission-style taqueria. Look for potential dishes like a jicama salad with avocado and grapefruit, tortilla soup, classic tacos like carne asada and carnitas plus a Baja-style fish taco with line-caught fish (the same fillings are also available as burros—a relative to the burrito), and there will be four kinds of quesadillas. He is planning to introduce daily specials as well. There will also be a kid’s menu, seasonal aguas frescas, and coconut flan. The space is tiny (about 20 or so seats, plus some outdoor seating), but is going to feature a lot of custom touches by Geremia Design. Take-out and catering are both available. Hours will be Sun-Thu 11am-10pm, and Fri-Sat 11am-11pm, with breakfast possibly opening later. The plan is to open in mid-March.

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Ruh roh: those evil sandwich-makers at ~PAL’S TAKEAWAY~ are now offering delivery to the greater Mission area from 11:30am-2pm on Thursdays and Fridays (they plan to add more days soon). Which means you can have sandwiches like cousin Sven’s big caraway turkey meatballs on an Acme bun with Gruyère fondue, pickled cabbage, and grainy mustard ($8) brought right to your door. They ask for you to allow 30 minutes for delivery, and it’s a $15 minimum order, plus a $5 delivery fee. Which is a fee I wouldn’t mind paying if I was sick, it was raining, and I was hungry. Oh yeah, and if I lived in the Mission. Sigh. Call 415-203-4911 to order.

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Sue Conley and Peggy Smith, co-owners of Cowgirl Creamery, are expanding their Cowgirl Creamery space at San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace. They are taking over their former neighbor’s space, Lulu Petite, and while it’s a bit soon to know for sure, they are gunning for a May opening. The menu is also early in development, but you know grilled cheese is going to be on there in some way, shape, or form—perhaps many.

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Photo courtesy of Zaré at Fly Trap.

The New Year’s celebrations continue: chef/owner Hoss Zaré of ~ZARÉ AT FLYTRAP~ is introducing the first Persian New Year’s celebration in San Francisco. On Monday March 15th through Wednesday March 17th, the restaurant will host a New Year’s celebration with communal tables and traditional symbolic dishes served family style.

Chef Zaré will recreate the traditional haft-sin table and serve modern renditions of typical Persian cuisine, reinterpreting traditional New Year’s dishes to reflect modern tastes. A sample of some of the dishes from the five-course menu includes:

Ash é reshteh: winter greens with organic beans, root vegetables
Herb kuku: herb omelet with roasted garlic and sumac yogurt
Frogs legs fessenjoon with pomegranate walnut sauce
Thai snapper with fennel, winter vegetables, and Persian pickle tartar
Bell pepper dolma
Maast é keysehe: yogurt panna cotta
Persian tea and cookies

(The celebration will extend over a two-week period, as it does in Iran, with nightly specials and traditional noodle soup; the noodles symbolizing a life free from worry.)

Persian New Year is the largest celebration in Iran and one that is celebrated multilaterally across all religions and cultures. Falling on March 21st, at the precise moment of the vernal equinox, the holiday originally marked the end of winter and the beginning of a new growing season. In Iran it marks the beginning of two weeks of holidays and festivities and is celebrated with a multi-course meal and elaborate decorations centered around the haft-sin table, or “Table of the Seven Ss,” so-called because seven of the traditional items begin with s.

I was sorry to learn the Bacchus Management Group (which includes Spruce, Pizza Antica, and The Village Pub) has decided, after a long period of deliberation, to walk away from the ~AQUA~ space. Due to risk issues, they mutually decided it was best for their company and all others involved. Now, let’s look back on the people and parties who also put some bids in on the space… Hmmm… Based on a juicy (but unconfirmed) rumor, let’s just say what was old may become new again, perhaps as soon as this week. We’ll just have to see who officially signs on the dotted line.

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Food Network’s Daisy Martinez is hosting a special Nuevo Latino dinner on Monday March 8th at ~DESTINO~ to introduce her new cookbook, Daisy: Morning, Noon, and Night. Chef James Schenk will utilize Daisy’s vibrant pan-Latin recipes to create a four-course dinner, paired with Argentine wine. The dinner also includes an autographed copy of the new cookbook being published March 16th by Atria Books, and two glasses of wine. A no-host cocktail reception with Daisy at Pisco Latin Lounge (next door to Destino) will kick off the festivities from 6pm-6:30pm with passed appetizers.

Daisy’s dinner at Destino will feature celery root, jicama and red pear salad; risotto with pigeon peas; and Peruvian pork roast with onion and pepper stir-fry, accompanied by a glass each of Torrontes and Malbec wines. The meal’s sweet ending of mango-passion fruit panna cotta comes with coffee or tea.

The first Latina to host a public television cooking show, Daisy grew up learning the culinary arts from her Puerto Rican mother and grandmothers. After attending The French Culinary Institute with Jacques Pépin, and stints as a private chef and owner of a catering business in New York City, she is known for her Daisy Cooks! on PBS, Viva Daisy! on the Food Network, and her cookbook, DAISY COOKS!

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This event will have no shortage of things to look at: next Monday March 1st, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and San Francisco artist danyol are celebrating the opening of his month-long curated exhibit, “All Creatures Great and Small,” at ~ANDALU~ in the Mission. The opening reception will feature a menu of Andalusian-inspired small plates (including boar and bacon meatballs), half-price drink specials, and flamenco artists Andanza Spanish Arts. Dinner starts at 5:30pm, and the opening reception at 9pm.

25% of table and bar tabs will be donated, courtesy of Andalu, to the Sisters’ fundraising efforts for Rainbow World Fund’s Haiti Relief Campaign. 20% of all danyol’s art sales from the exhibit will also go towards the campaign. Mention “danyol,” “The Sisters,” or “Haiti” when you reserve your table at 415-621-2211.

I was scooting home after a shopping mission at Rainbow and noticed the grand opening sign for ~CAFEZAZO~. Instead of spending time researching the story, how convenient, I’m just going to link to Jonathan Kauffman’s report that he just posted instead. Sounds like the fried-to-order potato chips are the bomb. 64 14th St. at Harrison, 415-626-5555.

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Photo from Sushi Ran.

~SUSHI RAN~ has started offering a $30 three-course dinner Monday through Wednesday nights in their wine and sake bar. The first course includes a choice of miso soup, soup of the day (when available), or seasonal greens with tahini-miso dressing and sesame wafers; for the main course, a choice of miso-glazed black cod obento with steamed vegetables or tempura French green beans and rice, or Vietnamese shaking beef obento with steamed vegetables or tempura French green beans and rice, or salmon obento with teriyaki Atlantic salmon, salad and California roll, or the sushi special, which includes one maguro nigiri, one sake, one hamachi, plus three more chef’s choice selections, makimono with avocado, and sake uramaki. And you even get dessert, with your pick of Fiorello’s gelato (mocha chip, ginger, green tea, or vanilla) or fresh fruit sorbets (mango, passion fruit, or raspberry). Just ask for the Sausalito Red Elephant menu! 107 Caledonia St., Sausalito, 415-332-3620.