March 9, 2010

March 9, 2010
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Photo by Daisy Chow.

This week marks the soft opening for ~GEORGES~, located in the former London Wine Bar space in the Fugazi Building—they plan and hope to be officially open and live on OpenTable on Monday March 15th. As I mentioned in a post last year, chef and co-owner Elias Bikahi (Nook, Caffe Sapore, Sapore Catering, and he started Valentina) is partnering with Leo Lippi on the project. The 55-seat restaurant will be focused on serving sustainable seafood, including a raw bar up front and at a 10-seat bar, plus local produce, and other sustainably raised ingredients (the partners have a close relationship with a family fish market and numerous farms). Bikahi will be working with Amanda Hamilton in the kitchen.

The lunch menu will be tailored for quick service since they’re smack dab in the Financial District—I’ll have details on what’s on the lunch and dinner menus next week. The owners want the business to be as green and sustainable as possible, which includes offering house-filtered water instead of bottled. The look is definitely modern but not stark due to the bright, Granny Smith apple-green counter. The front entrance features wine towers with the building’s original brick wall visible behind it, and there’s a second wine tower at the back of the room. The dining tables and the wooden panels on the walls (which make it look a bit Scandinavian) are made of reclaimed wood sourced from McCloud, near Shasta. And the ceiling now features a skylight, previously hidden by the three false ceilings they removed to raise the ceiling height.

Lunch and dinner will be served Mon-Fri 11am-11pm, and perhaps Saturday service will start later. The space will be available for private events on weekends and is business-meeting-friendly (it has a projector and screen). There is also a catering component to the business (there is a second kitchen downstairs). As for the bar, they are launching a sherry club during the afternoon (between lunch and dinner service), and the bar manager, Rene Dominguez, who was at Quince and Boulevard, will be doing a house tonic, syrups, and featuring organic gin and vodka. In addition to the full bar, there will also be around 70 wines and nine beers on tap (none by the bottle). As for the name, it looks like there were a lot of Georges in the family, so the name is an homage to them (although it’s meant to be pronounced like the singular French name of “Georges”).

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Exterior photo by Daisy Chow.

Was thrilled to learn the chef for the upcoming ~COMSTOCK SALOON~ is Carlo Espinas, whom some of you may recognize from Piccino, Bar Jules, and currently Camino. I spoke with co-owner Jeff Hollinger, who said the menu will focus on some classic San Francisco saloon-apropos fare, like a pot pie, pickled items (vegetables, eggs), a variety of seafood cocktails (crab, oysters), and good bar snacks (he’s currently working on some fried favas—you know the kitchen crew is gonna love that, not). The dining room is shaping up to be larger than originally thought, with around 80-90 seats total. Look for an upcoming hardhat column with all the details on the space and build-out. They are currently pushing for mid-April.

I don’t think many tears will be sniffed over the closure of Craig’s Place in the Mission, which is now opening as ~EBB & FLOW~ this Wednesday. Chef-partner Vincent Schofield (Boulevard, Sundance Kitchen, Willows Inn on Lummi Island in Washington) has partnered up with the owners, Craig and Tony Dropalas. After a brisk remodel, they are going to be open for dinner this Wednesday, and starting lunch on Thursday. The “fine diner” menu will highlight sustainable West Coast seafood, with oysters, crab Louie, and, as Schofield said, “other classics done right.” There will also be four daily specials for dinner based on what’s freshly caught, plus a ribeye and a burger on the menu. Brunch will kick in the weekend of the 20th, with dishes like a house Benedict made with grilled sourdough, spinach, and tonnato sauce, and a Nova Scotia breakfast of fish cakes, eggs, and beans (Scofield’s co-chef is David Vogler, who hails from Nova Scotia—they both met as line cooks in the Boulevard kitchen).

Look for 12 West Coast beers on the menu and a selection of wines chosen by sommelier Rob Perkins of Boulevard. There are 40 seats, with four at a counter. To be expected, there is now some nautical decor, including nets, buoys, and a large fishing chart of the San Francisco Bay. Hours will be Mon-Fri 11am-10pm and Sat-Sun 9am-10pm when weekend brunch begins.

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Photo from Pica Pica.

Visitors to the Oxbow Public Market in Napa may have tried the tasty arepas and other Venezuelan street food bites at ~PICA PICA MAIZE KITCHEN~. In early April, Pica Pica is launching a second restaurant in the former Mi Lindo Yucatan Space on Valencia here in the city. Owner-executive chef Adriana Lopez Vermut is collaborating with her father on the menu of arepas ($7.99); cachapas (imagine a corn pancake quesadilla; $8.99), and maize’wiches ($7.99), grilled corn breads stuffed or layered with meat, cheese, and vegetable fillings. There will also be empanadas, yucca fries, and sweet plantains (all $3.99), plus soups ($3.99 small, $5.75 large) and salads ($3.75). Quench your thirst with their coconut lemonade, and more “adult beverages” will be available when their beer and wine license kicks in. The 30-seat space is currently being renovated, and will feature a predominantly glass storefront facing both streets, plus orange tiles, and wood benches of dark-stained elm. Hours will be 10am-10pm daily. 401 Valencia St. at 15th St.

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Photo from Radius/Anja Ulfeldt.

After hitting some ever-common snags with inspections, ~RADIUS~, the new cafe-restaurant opening in the former Julie’s Supper Club, is now targeting this Friday. I got to check out the final menu, and it looks really good. Like: tarragon egg salad on polenta bread ($8) with little gem lettuce, and homemade bread-and-butter pickles. Yeah, that sounds freaking good.

Here’s what I said last week in case you missed it: the cafe has 30 seats, and Kelly Hughett’s menu includes seasonal soups, salads (duck confit, quinoa), sandwiches (truffled egg, pork loin and cheese), hot-pressed panini (eggplant, pork belly), and starting at 5:30pm, there will be a nightly pasta dish, fried chicken, and a vegetable torte. Ingredients will be sourced from within a 100-mile radius, hence the name. The hours will be 11am-11pm Sun-Wed, and 11am-1am Thu-Sat.

Got a call from Erik Hopfinger, the chef formerly at CIRCA, Spoon, and the opening chef for butterfly when it was in the Mission (and he was a contestant on Top Chef). He is now the new chef at ~THE WATERFRONT RESTAURANT~, starting tomorrow. He will be easing his own dishes onto the menu, which is focused on sustainable and high-end seafood. Also learned David Nepove is going to be making his delicious cocktails at the bar. Pier 7, The Embarcadero at Broadway, 415-391-2696.

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Flickr photo by Italy in SF.

A tablehoppin’ reader writes in: “~PIZZETTA 211~ (my neighborhood happy place) is now open for Blue Bottle Coffee and pastries 7am-11am. They had croissants yesterday (and said they will likely have them every Thursday) and delicious kumquat marmalade buttermilk scones today. The guy ahead of me in line walked half a block away, then came back for a second scone. Unlike the pizza line in the evening, the coffee line is short, for now.” Kumquat marmalade buttermilk scones—that doesn’t sound crappy, not one bit.

Not. So. Fast. Looks like ~BI-RITE CREAMERY~ is moving “Our Treat Day” to NEXT week, Thursday March 18th, from 4pm-8pm. Seems the window had some construction glitches. 3692 18th St. at Dolores, 415-626-5600.

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Photo by Daisy Chow.

The hot dog trend continues: open as of last night is ~THE DOGFATHER~, the latest spot to join the local hot dog revolution. Eater originally sniffed up the trail, noting that it was opening in the former North Beach Lobster Shack. There are a variety of sausages on the menu, from bratwurst to hot links to wild boar, plus fries (french, chili-cheese, curly), corn dogs, and a ton of toppings (peppers, onions, mushrooms, relish, sauerkraut, avocado, and bacon). While a basic dog will put you back $3, you might not want to say “no” to the Dog Corleone: an Italian sausage which comes loaded with sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and mozzarella for $7.50. Another is the Little P, a garlic sausage with crispy bacon, onion, cheddar cheese, and chili ($7.95, heartburn is complimentary). The owner is local boy Tommy Balistreri, who grew up in North Beach and noticed the neighborhood needed a good “salciceria.” As the menu says, “We’ll make you a sausage you can’t refuse.” Woof. Hours are 11am-11pm daily.

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Yelp photo from Jennie L.

Now, here’s a shop that has all your bases covered: ~DAGWOOD & SCOOPS~, offering 12 flavors of Mitchell’s ice cream ($2.65/scoop) and sandwiches. Like Paulie’s Dagwood, a honkin’ sandwich packed with roast turkey, ham, salami, roast beef, Swiss, provolone, marinated peppers, “Dag sauce” (yes, a secret sauce), artichoke hearts, lettuce, and tomato. Day-am. It’s $10. (There are some other sandwiches available, too). And since the sandwiches require all those meats, you can also get meats sliced to go.

Owner Paul Araj was at Say Cheese in Cole Valley for 13 years (his family owns it), so he is also selling five soft and ten hard cheeses, plus crackers, sauces, jams, and other sundries. There aren’t any seats, but he is planning to install a small window counter. Hours are Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat-Sun 10am-4pm. 2736 24th St. at Hampshire, 415-814-3459.

I guess I was out to lunch on this one, but there’s a new café open in the new Crissy Field Center called the ~BEACH HUT CAFÉ~. The menu has coffee and tea, sandwiches, salads, baked goods, smoothies, and Straus frozen yogurt, perfect for all those dog and power walkers. Open daily 9am-5pm. 1199 East Beach (in the East Beach parking lot), 415-561-7761.

No, this is not about putting your liver in basic training in preparation for March 17th, and I’m not here to remind you Shamrock Shake season is here. Just a few things to note: ~ARIZMENDI BAKERY~ will be featuring their Irish soda bread, but encourage advance orders. Since we’re discussing baked goods, this post from Tasting Table about the off-the-menu griddle cakes at ~JOHN CAMPBELL’S IRISH BAKERY~ also got me excited for a carbed-up Irish breakfast.

And then ~THE LIBERTIES~ is doing a five-day celebration, starting with an Irish brunch on Saturday the 13th and Sunday the 14th; Irish beer flights on Monday the 15th: Kilkenny, Harp, Smithwick’s; things get more serious on Tuesday the 16th with flights of Irish whiskey; and then on the big day, they will be open at 10am, with live music all evening, expanded outdoor seating, and general partying mayhem. Traditional St. Patrick’s Day dishes will be served for late lunch and dinner all week long (corned beef and cabbage, cottage pie, fish and chips, bangers and mash, and more). 998 Guerrero St. at 22nd St., 415-282-6789.

An eagle-eyed reader (perhaps a very caffeinated one) wanted to let me know that the upcoming Oasis Café’s upcoming selection of ten kinds of individual drip coffees to choose from isn’t as novel as I thought: Rodger’s Coffee & Tea in the Mission does even more. I called and learned they offer 24 kinds of coffee (regular and a couple decaf), with the ability to mix and match. Yup, that option could have some people wired for weeks. 3520A 20th St. at Mission, 415-829-3405.

(I also just learned Sweet Jo’s in the JCC offers 10 kinds as well.)

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Vegetarian offerings from El Huarache Loco. Photo by Daisy Chow.

Daisy Chow, tablehopper editorial assistant extraordinaire, has this field report from an event I had to call in sick to (thanks Daisy!): “If you ever get a chance to play hooky for the day, I suggest you play tourist in your own city. On a surprisingly sunny Saturday in February, I joined a group of writers, bloggers, and tweeters for the ~BEST OF SAN FRANCISCO STREET FOOD TOUR~, sponsored by Chevrolet, La Cocina, and the San Francisco Street Food Festival. We started off with Blue Bottle coffee from the Ferry Building to warm up—the wind was still whipping at this point. Then we all climbed into brand-spanking-new Chevy cars that were waiting to take us to our first stop, old-school street food at the Fisherman’s Wharf sidewalk stands. We made our way through the off-season crowds to Alioto’s Crabstand to get to the piping-hot clam chowder in Boudin sourdough bowls and ginormous crab sandwiches. Unique, stand-out food? Maybe not. Classic street food? Yes. Sun coming out? Yes!

“Next, our friendly drivers steered us to Let’s Be Frank Hot Dog Stand at Crissy Field for 100% grass-fed beef hot dogs and gorgeous views of the Golden Gate bridge. I liked the idea that the humble hot dog is part of a sustainable food system because it’s made from trimmings that might otherwise go to waste.

“When we reached our third stop, the clouds had caught up with us at the Alemany Farmers’ market. Weather-be-damned, I wanted to eat, but I was so full, I could barely sample the authentic Mexican street food from La Cocina protégé El Huarache Loco. (No food was wasted though ‘cause this starving student took home all the leftover nopales tacos and huaraches.)

“Our last stop was a rendezvous with itinerant food pioneer The Crème Brûlée Cart, conveniently waiting for us in front of La Cocina. There’s always room for dessert, especially if it’s creamy French custard flamed right before your eyes by a surly man in a floppy toque. Between the lavender, coffee, vanilla, and s’mores flavors, saying no was not an option. Just goes to show, playing tourist can be quite the delicious treat. My thanks to the tour organizers! They even sent us home with goodie bags. Score!”

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