May 18, 2010

May 18, 2010
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Exterior of 845 22nd St.

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Interior of the space.

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DIG’s soon-to-be cellar.

One of my favorite gems of the city, ~PICCINO~, is going to be moving down the block and into an amazing, spacious, historical building. The immense size of the 150-year-old yellow building is rather breathtaking—and it’s actually going to house three businesses: Piccino, DIG (more on this fab wine shop in a sec), and a second location for Hayes Valley (and tablehopper) favorite, MAC (Modern Appealing Clothing) from Ben and Chris Ospital.

Piccino owners Margherita Stewart-Sagan and Sheryl Rogat will now have room for 70 diners indoors (instead of its current 24), with another 35 outdoor seats on a quiet, 12-foot, west-facing (read: sunny) sidewalk. The building is currently undergoing a significant foundation and seismic upgrade, and will eventually house the new Piccino dining room, as well as Piccino’s coffee bar, which currently sits in the middle of the block. The coffee bar will seat an additional 12 to 14 people, and will feature an expanded breakfast menu. The restaurant’s daily menu will continue to feature thin-crust pizzas and many long-standing favorites, plus new special entrées, like meaty roasts or roast quails or risotto, plus a new fry station means dishes like fritto misto.

Garcia will be busy with his boutique wine store, ~DIG~, which will focus on food-friendly wines from the regions of France and Italy. DIG will eventually ramp up to a selection of roughly 150 bottles (but will be starting with approximately half that number). There will also be weekly tasting menus and theme-based tasting events. And there’s going to be an actual cellar—750 square feet, in fact (just check out the pic). The ground-level storefront will house a retail space with special olive oils, salts, and Recchiuti confections, and there will be a comfy tasting lounge with music playing on vinyl records, and a communal farm table in the cellar for special tasting events and dinners. ~MAC~ will be nestled in the space between Piccino and DIG.

The architectural firm Sagan-Piechota (partner Loring Sagan is married to Margherita) is designing the restaurant and retail spaces, which will share a garden-like atrium entrance on Minnesota Street. The new Piccino/MAC/DIG location plans to open at the corner of 22nd Street and Minnesota in late 2010.

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Photo from Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous.

Just in time for this supposed spring we’re having, ~MR. AND MRS. MISCELLANEOUS~ are opening their ice cream and sweets shop this Friday. Owners Annabelle Topacio and Ian Flores are opening with eight organic ice cream flavors (plus a vegan flavor and a sorbet), which you can have in a banana split or a sundae, and there will also be fudgesicles, and root beer or black cherry floats. On the sweets side, there will be house-made brittle, toffee, marshmallows, chouquettes, and baked goods like muffins, scones, goat cheese brownies, chocolate chip cookies with sel gris and pecans, and Bakewell tarts made with raspberry jam and toasted almonds. Hours will be 11:30am-8pm (but be sure to call first before heading over).

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Flickr photo by jessefriedman.

After a tablehopper reader (with an awesome burger blog, by the way) tipped me off to the potential upcoming closure of ~MISSION BURGER~ in the Duc Loi supermarket, I put a call in to partner Anthony Myint. He said the business wasn’t an ideal lunch location, and it will be closing up at the end of May (either the 30th or 31st) when burger badass Danny Bowien heads off to Korea for his wedding. Myint is open to the possibility that if someone had a location to open the concept elsewhere, then the granulated burger might return.

He also mentioned that ~MISSION STREET FOOD~ is going to be winding down, serving its last meal on Saturday June 5th, before Myint leaves for Korea for Bowien’s wedding. When the chefs return, the future of MSF remains to be seen: they might start it up at Commonwealth on the night it’s closed (Monday), but otherwise doesn’t want to compete with their new restaurant since the locations are just next to each other.

Lastly, here are a few updates on the team for ~COMMONWEALTH~, the restaurant opening in the El Herradero space at 2224 Mission St.: executive chef Jason Fox is going to be joined by chef de cuisine Ian Muntzert (Coi, Zuni Cafe, Nopa, Pizzeria Delfina, Yoshi’s, and Bar Tartine), and manager Xelina Leyba (Bar Tartine). Myint will be closely involved with the project, especially during the opening month—which is about a couple months out or so, it’s hard to tell.

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The new wave of food trucks is here: it’s time to salute ~CHAIRMAN BAO~, hitting the streets of San Francisco this week. You can take your pick of steamed or baked buns filled with six different items, like pork belly and pickled daikon, lion’s head meatball with fresh kimchee, or crispy garlic tofu with miso greens (you can view the entire menu here). Baked buns are $5.75, and steamed are $2.95. The chef is Eric Rudd, who hails from Minneapolis. There are also going to be four fresh fruit-shaved ice drinks, like pineapple salted caramel, and mango matcha green tea ($3.50).

It’s going to be parked at Trimark Economy Restaurant Fixtures this Wed-Fri (1200 7th St. at Irwin), and making its first nighttime appearance at a show at the Rockit Room on Saturday May 29th. There are also plans to hit the Peninsula, Emeryville, and Redwood City. Follow the truck’s Twitter feed for exact coordinates.

This food truck is the first in a smart new mobile food truck enterprise, Mobi Munch, which is a turnkey mobile food truck business infrastructure for chefs who want to hit the streets, but not be mired in the business details of how to run a truck. The next truck will be with L.A. chef, Ludo Lefebvre, featuring his famous Ludo Fried Chicken throughout greater Los Angeles in June. The MobiMunch.com website will also eventually act as a portal and forum for and about mobile food trucks.

Got a quick update on Desi Danganan’s ~THE SUMMIT~, the art bar and café opening near the New College building at 777 Valencia (I think it’s actually going in the additional New College space flanking the garage, just across the street). The chef is going to be none other than Eddie Lau (Orson, Poleng Lounge), and according to their mission statement, “The cuisine at The Summit is a modern and emboldened tribute to the simplicity and philosophy of the brasserie—a style often rooted in traditional French and extended to contemporary interpretations around the world.” They are going to be doing lunch and dinner, but it will be casual counter service in the café. The local/seasonal menu will have pricing that floats around $6-$10 for lunch, and $12-$16 for dinner. They don’t officially have an opening date yet, but it looks to be sometime in July. I’ll keep you posted.

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This week is a double-play for tablehopper book signings. This Thursday May 20th, I will have a table at the Appel and Frank Chic Summer Soirée Event, which most women who love to shop know ALL about. There will be all kinds of vendors, from clothing to bags to jewelry, plus cocktails, wine, and more. I will be there signing and selling books (and giving out free recommendations!). I will also be offering delicious sweet treats from Pinkie’s Bakery, so consider it your free preview taste before checking out the bakery’s new digs in SoMa.

Use the discount code “TABLEHOPPER” for 50% off the $10 fee (so you only pay $5). RSVP in advance here. Otherwise all tickets are $10 at the door. 5pm-9pm. Regency Center, Sutter Room, 1270 Sutter St. at Van Ness.

And then this Saturday May 22nd, I will be up in Sonoma at Readers’ Books for a signing and reading at 4pm. And don’t be surprised if I have some sort of beverage for you to enjoy (the event is free). 130 E. Napa St. at 1st St. E., Sonoma.

And then next Thursday May 27th, I will be doing a reading and signing at Books. Inc. Market St. (Castro), and we’ll have some red wine, and delicious bittersweet cocoa truffles from Neo Cocoa. 7:30pm, free. 2275 Market St. at 16th St., San Francisco.

Hope to see you soon! For more upcoming tablehopper signings and events, click here.

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The Clift Hotel has completed the transition from Jeffrey Chodowrow/China Grill Management’s Asia de Cuba to a new concept, ~VELVET ROOM~, now under the management of the Morgans Hotel Group. The Philippe Starck interior has remained untouched, but the menu has gone from fusion to farm-to-table. The chef is Ewart Wardhaugh, who was previously at Sandy Lane, a luxury resort in St. James, Barbados. His new lunch menu is still being tweaked, but the dinner menu of approachable and seasonal California fare includes sweet pea soup ($8); grilled flatbread with shaved prosciutto, dried fig, cipollini onion, sheep’s milk ricotta ($15); day boat scallops with a ragout of Rancho Gordo beans, dried chorizo, upland cress, lemon oil ($27); and Pozzi Ranch loin of lamb with spring pea polenta, morel mushrooms, red wine jus ($28). Lunch is 11:30am-1:30pm daily; dinner Sun-Thu 5:30pm-10pm, and until 11pm Fri-Sat. 495 Geary St. at Taylor, 415-929-2300.

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Photo from Pinkie’s Bakery.

Cheryl Burr of ~PINKIE’S BAKERY~ has now opened her SoMa location! You can swing by for De La Paz drip coffee and tasty treats like crumb cake and scones. In addition to her delicious line of baked goods, they are also offering sandwiches, like an egg salad or curry chicken salad on a kaiser roll, plus baguette sandwiches, and a vegetarian brioche roll with Gruyère and caramelized onion. Hours are Mon-Fri from 8am-4pm (for now—hours may get tweaked). The new address is 1196 Folsom St. at 8th St., 415-355-1269.

Back in December I mentioned this upcoming coffee bar, ~GRAND COFFEE~, that is opening in the historic Grand Theater building in the Mission. If they pass their inspections this Thursday, they hope to have a soft opening over the upcoming weekend. To recap, the café is from Nabeel Silmi, a bartender who is going to be integrating a bartending approach to the barista craft, like shaking the iced coffees in a cocktail shaker (like a caffè shakerato in Italy). The coffee will be from Four Barrel, the machine is a La Marzocco paddle group, the tea is from Red Blossom Tea, and there will also be an egg cream on the menu, using seltzer from the Seltzer Sisters. You can keep track of the café’s progress on their Twitter feed. Hours will be Mon-Fri 7am-7pm, and Sat-Sun 8am-7pm.

~THE BRICK YARD BAR & RESTAURANT~ is due to open in the former Bayside Bar & Grill space on Saturday June 5th at the 33rd annual Union Street Festival. To celebrate, the restaurant will be open at 10am, offering $5-$10 menu items all weekend long, and signature cocktails like their Pura Vida (a watermelon-based rum drink). The menu of California cuisine will be focused on healthy and comfort food dishes (citrus salad with grilled chicken, thin crust pizzas, pulled pork sliders, chopped chicken lettuce cups, and seared ahi tuna). The spacious 3,600-square-foot venue has undergone floor-to-ceiling renovations, which include new tile and hardwood floors, custom-made wine displays, skylights, tufted leather booths, a 30-foot bar with flatscreen HD TVs, a private lounge that can be reserved for special events (stocked with its own audio system, personal bar, and pool table), and there’s an elevated outdoor patio facing Union Street. 1787 Union St. at Octavia.

The Divisadero location of ~LITTLE STAR PIZZA~ is now running a deal called Summer Neighborhood Nights. What does this mean for you? On Tuesday and Wednesday nights from 5pm-6pm, be seated before 6pm, order an appetizer, and get a pizza at half off. Sweet.

~SCOMA’S~ is raising funds for the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation to support their efforts to clean up and prevent beach, wetlands, and wildlife damage caused by the ongoing oil spill off the Louisiana coast. On Friday May 21st and 28th, 100% of the proceeds from the restaurant’s $23.95 prix-fixe lunch menu and $39.95 Triple Play Dinner Menu will be donated to the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation. Lunch is served 11:30am-3:30pm; dinner is served 5pm-10:30pm. Complimentary valet parking is always available.

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Slumdosa Millionaires/Dosa Rox My Lox. Photo by Daisy Chow.

Daisy Chow, tablehopper editorial assistant extraordinaire, has this field report from the latest SF Food Wars event:

With a theme like “Amuse Brunch” (think: brunch in a bite), last Sunday’s ~SF FOOD WARS~ competition was sure to be a pork and eggs-travaganza. So I arrived at the Thirsty Bear Brewery prepared, meaning, I brought along a meat-eating friend. All 20 teams (see their pics here) showed a lot of creativity and love of all things brunch, but I’ll only highlight a few faves.

My personal pick was a simple little bite by INNA pickle INNA jam: they put together a buttermilk biscuit, cream cheese smear, tortilla Española, and jalapeño jelly, a nicely balanced combination. Another notable savory entry was Team Valhalla’s creamy, herbed sawmill gravy with fresh peas, porky bits, and hard-boiled eggs on a wee biscuit. Call it a meaty, meal-in-one version of biscuits and gravy. Of the sweet entries, my friend liked Purveyors of Awesome’s bread pudding for its subtle tea flavor and soft texture, which worked well with the whipped cream and strawberry garnish.

I also liked seeing adventurous folks marry the brunch theme with molecular gastronomy techniques. Gastronaut’s “Hare of the Benny”—a riff on eggs benedict—had a sous vide quail egg in a sweet browned butter hollandaise sauce served in a shot glass rimmed with biscuit-y crumbles and garnished with preserved lemon and rabbit bacon, plus a molecular “mimosa” of Champagne gelée and orange “caviar” on the side. Team TimeCube was another molecular gastronomy-style entrant: their “One Shot Waffle” captured the essence of waffles, strawberry, syrup, and cream. Sipped out of a tiny test tube, the flavor was great but didn’t last long.

A shout out to two teams whose labor-intensive presentations caught my eye: Chicas con Huevos made huevos rancheros in a cute lil’ boat-shaped tamal (dubbed “El Ranchero”), and Slumdosa Millionaires had mini, smoked salmon and hash brown-filled dosas wrapped with little chive bows (aka “Dosa Rox My Lox”). If you’ve ever made hundreds of tamales or tried to tie a chive into a decent knot, you’ll understand how much work these folks must’ve put in.

By popular vote, the People’s Choice award went to Porkuporkia’s “Pork in the Hole” (slow-braised pork belly in a maple-glazed donut hole), and the Judges’ First Place award went to Good Foods Catering’s “The Bite of Smokey Porky Love” (a micro-mini BLT served on crisp pita with a smoky tomato jam, sliced cherry tomato, pork crackling aioli, house-made bacon, and micro greens). For the complete list of winners, check out the SF Food Wars website. As for their next event, did I hear…Pie or Die?

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Photo provided by Revival Bar + Kitchen.

Amy Murray, the chef-owner of Venus in Berkeley, is opening her latest venture, ~REVIVAL BAR + KITCHEN~, in the former Downtown Restaurant location on Shattuck. Michael Brennan designed the spacious 130-seat space, which features lots of reclaimed wood, recycled arches rescued from the Julia Morgan building next door to Venus, cherry red barstools for the 20-seat bar, and many vintage and turn-of-the-century touches, including cool plastering effects. There’s also a sexy saloon-meets-bordello vibe, with atmospheric lighting.

Murray has been “cheffing with a farmers’ market perspective” since 1994, and she opened the organic and farm-to-table Venus in 2000. She will be the executive chef, and Alicia Jenish, formerly of the The Academy Café at the California Academy of Sciences, will be the chef de cuisine. The menu will be “snout to tail, root to shoot,” mixed with a “‘lil kitchen on the prairie” vibe, making it all from scratch. They also hope to make their own tonic, sodas, plant a garden, and use every part of the animal. Murray says the name was inspired by the history of the building (which dates back to 1901), the local revival of back-to-the-land values, and is also excited by the revival of restaurants in the area (Gather, and the new Locanda in the old Zax space).

The dinner menu includes fried baby artichokes; local bay shrimp with avocado, hearts of palm, shaved fennel with a tarragon vinaigrette; asparagus and beef marrow flatbread; halibut cheeks with asparagus, potatoes, and morels; goat braised with za’atar; and a Long and Bailey Farms pork chop. Revival will stay open all day, starting with a morning program of third wave coffee off a La Marzocco machine, bombolini, unique muffins and scones, homemade Irish brown bread, and fresh-churned butter. There will also be lunch, happy hour, and an afternoon modern tea with charcuterie, sandwiches, and cocktails—and dinner until late. The bar will feature a modern, California cocktail program, with drinks made from seasonal local fruit. The restaurant is slated to open for dinner on Tuesday May 25th after a couple friends and family events. Breakfast and lunch will start three weeks later. And in case you’d like a sneak peek before the opening, come to the book launch party on Thursday May 20th for the new book, Farmer Jane. 2102 Shattuck Ave. at Addison, Berkeley, 510-549-9952.

Since things are taking a while to get Bracina open in Jack London Square, Daniel Patterson of Coi is opening a new project called ~PLUM~ in Uptown. Jay Barmann at GrubStreet recently (and conveniently) conducted a long interview with Patterson, which seemed to answer any questions I had or would have asked, so why don’t you just hop on over? The short recap: 45 seats, the concept is “Coi as neighborhood restaurant,” dishes will top out at $19, Lauren Kiino will be the opening chef until Bracina gets going, there will be sandwiches during the day, and he hopes to have it open this summer. There’s also an adjacent space where Patterson plans to have a bar open later this year, with Scott Beattie (Cyrus) overseeing it. 2214 Broadway at 22nd St., Oakland.

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