July 27, 2010

July 27, 2010
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Photo of Dave McLean by Jennifer Yin.

I heard rumors that Dave McLean of Magnolia had a project brewing (heh) in Dogpatch, and he has kindly shared a “work in progress” update with me. What this means is zoning, planning, and other factors may come into play, but the plan is to open a small-scale production brewery, ~MAGNOLIA BREWERY~, and on-site pub/restaurant in the American Industrial Center on 3rd Street (next to Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous, and across from Serpentine on 22nd Street). He mentioned how he’s been literally bursting at the seams with his Haight Street production, and can barely keep up with the needs at Magnolia and his other location, The Alembic. He’s actually having to turn away wholesale business for local bars and restaurants since he just can’t produce enough beer. (Yeah, that Proving Ground is popular stuff!) The new location would allow him to produce three times the amount (with a 20-barrel system), but it would still be on a small, craft level. He will also be freed up to do more barrel aging.

As for the restaurant, it’s still in its infancy as a concept, but he envisions a casual space, with a bit of an industrial and maritime vibe to fit the neighborhood style. He has enlisted Eric Hyde (Thermidor, Range, Serpentine) to design the space. (McLean also mentioned having wine on tap—and based on my own gossip tracking, I can safely say some of it will be from a new neighbor—more on that soon.) Timing is pointing toward spring of 2011, so I’ll keep you posted on updates. With the upcoming Piccino project, things just keep getting more exciting over there. 2505 3rd St. at 22nd St.

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Booths; photo by Blair Sneddon Photography.

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Upstairs; photo by Blair Sneddon Photography.

Are you ready to report for pizza patrol? Opening tomorrow, Wednesday July 28th, is ~ZERO ZERO~, the SoMa pizzeria and restaurant from executive chef/owner Bruce Hill (BIX, Picco, Pizzeria Picco) in the former Azie space. The Bay Area is no stranger to Hill’s stellar pizzas at Pizzeria Picco in Larkspur, so SF diners are pretty fired up to have his “Calipolitan” pies (Neapolitan pizzas with California ingredients) so close by.

A few details: the mozzarella is housemade, and the custom Mugnaini oven will be cranking so hot that nicely blistered pies will come out after only 90 seconds or so. In case you’re wondering about the name, it refers to the ultra-finely ground flour (tipo “00”) used in traditional Neapolitan pizza dough. And what a list of pizzas it is, ten in all, from classics like a margherita ($10.95), to a variety of pizzas named after different neighborhoods in the City, like the Fillmore, with hen of the woods mushrooms, leeks, mozzarella, Parmesan, pecorino, Fontina, garlic, and thyme ($15.50), and the Market, with housemade mortadella, Padrón peppers, mozzarella, roasted garlic, and oregano ($13.50). (You can read about all the pizzas here.)

The menu (co-created with chef Chris Whaley) also includes a range of starters and antipasti, like a variety of crudos for $9.75 each (e.g. albacore tuna, Padrón pepper, sea beans, and coriander aioli), and bar-friendly bites for $6.95, like Fontina and spinach-stuffed arancini with black garlic aioli, plus a few bruschetta choices, salads, and hello there, crispy fried chicken thighs with chili sauce, crisp basil, and caraway yogurt ($9.95). Some pasta dishes will round out the menu, including sweet corn agnolotti, pickled peppers, country ham, Straus butter, and capers ($12.50), and bucatini with cherry tomatoes, garlic chives, chile, breadcrumbs, and bottarga ($11.95). You can view the entire menu here.

And of course Hill’s signature organic soft-serve Straus Dairy ice cream will be on the menu—in fact, it has its own menu, with a variety of options, from a base of olive oil cake or cinnamon waffle, to toppings like pine nut brittle or his classic Da Vero olive oil and sea salt combo. There’s a full bar (actually two), with farm-to-glass cocktails created by Joel Teitelbaum, recently of Credo. You’ll also be able to order punch service in vintage bowls, à la Rickhouse. The wine list will focus on Italian varietals grown in California, with up to twelve wines available on tap, while the by-the-glass and bottle choices are primarily from Italy. There will also be a selection of small-production beers. You can view the cocktail and wine list here.

Michael Brennan redesigned the two-level and 135-seat space, formerly designed by Cass Calder Smith, which includes details like flame-inspired sconces and hanging lights, booths on the first floor, a central staircase adorned with old-fashioned metal-work, red-brown woods and leathers, and a second floor with a communal table and room for groups. Oh yeah, and quite the mural about the story of pizza, featuring Pinocchio. Dinner will be served Sun-Thu 5:30pm-10:30pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm, and lunch launching in late August. Note: reservations only for parties of five or greater.

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Photo by ©2006 frankenyimages.com.

There’s a new executive chef at ~ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR~ in Hayes Valley, Adam Keough, who begins on August 17th (Jamie Lauren is now at Beechwood in Venice, Los Angeles). He will be responsible for the food for lunch, dinner, brunch, private dining, and the bar at Absinthe, as well as for Arlequin Café. The Boston-native’s background includes working with Joshua Skenes at Chez TJ in Los Gatos, and for the Mina Restaurant Group at Arcadia in San Jose, and he opened Stonehill Tavern for Mina at the St. Regis Resort, Monarch Beach in Dana Point, to much acclaim.

We had a chance to talk about upcoming menu changes, which will entail more bar snacks (like his homemade garlic pretzels), and adding some Italian flair to the menu. New appetizers will include beef carpaccio, and housemade fennel sausage in a grain mustard butter sauce, along with two to three soups (don’t worry, the onion soup will remain). Some new entrées on the menu will include a steak, plus a shellfish stew, butter-poached halibut, and some creative sides. Oh yeah, and short ribs made in a boeuf bourguignon style. (Vegetarians can have wild nettle and ricotta cannelloni with roasted macadamia nuts, confit of lemon, and basil cream.) The lunchtime menu will include a delicious-sounding BLT, with Berkshire pork cheek and Neuske’s bacon, plus miner’s lettuce, heirloom tomato, and aioli. Yeah, sign me up. Brunch will integrate a roast of the day, like a stuffed and carved lamb leg, and the Niçoise salad will have a twist—it will be made with potato-encrusted steelhead trout, with an olive relish, radish, wax beans and haricots verts, and an anchovy dressing. Am looking forward to trying his menu.

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The Valencia Street space that formerly housed Senses and Janitzi has a new tenant, ~B-CUBED~, due to open Wednesday August 4th. About the name: B-Cubed is going to be about (wine) “bottles, burgers, and bites.” The partners in the venture are Johnny Gato and Ron Elder, along with chef Kevin Ahajanian (Bouchon, Risibisi). Starters include beer-battered onion rings and charcuterie, and salads like a Cobb or B3LT (with bacon, Point Reyes blue cheese, marinated tomatoes, bibb and romaine lettuces). The main event is a $12 burger (with a variety of toppings, ranging from $1-$2), or sausages (including boudin noir), and sandwiches (which include three vegetarian options, like a hen of the woods mushroom “burger”). There will also be a happy hour from 4pm-6pm, and 10pm-12am—just order a bottle of wine off the happy hour list and you can add two burgers on for $18. The late-night happy hour will have a few additional offerings.

The owners are calling the wine component “The Winemakers’ Speakeasy.” The idea is that you’ll be able to enjoy rare, small production, under-the-radar, and local wines that are not widely available, nor are they available for public tasting, many not even at the wineries. And bonus, the prices will be based on retail, whether you want to consume a bottle in-house or take it home. Look for the selection to grow (and rotate) in coming months. Hours will be Tue-Sun 4pm-2am.

If you’d like a sneak peek, The Bold Italic just added another preview dinner on August 3rd for $45.

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Photo from 1550 Hyde website.

Both Eater and Inside Scoop reported on the upcoming closure of ~1550 HYDE CAFÉ & WINE BAR~ on August 14th, after seven-plus years in business. The restaurant from partners Peter Erickson and Kent Liggett wasn’t able to withstand the challenging economy, so they sold their lease back to the landlord. Best of luck to them, and here’s hoping they enjoy a nice break. New tenants are reportedly taking over the Russian Hill space starting September 1st. 1550 Hyde St. at Pacific, 415-775-1550.

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Photo from Home website.

The kitchen at ~HOME ON MARKET~ is now under the care of executive chef Ryan Pollnow, formerly a sous chef at Mecca under chef Randy Lewis, and the last three years he was in Sonoma at the Kendall-Jackson Wine Center. Look for more artisanal, local, and sustainable products making their way on the menu, like Fulton Ranch beef, Mary’s Free Range Natural Chickens, and local cheeses, along with produce from the Castro Farmers’ Market. Look for new menu additions in coming weeks. 2100 Market St. at Church, 415-503-0333.

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The XXX chocolate layer cake.

If all goes according to plan, the ~BAKER & BANKER BAKERY~ should be opening on Sunday August 1st. The project is from husband-and-wife team Lori Baker and Jeff Banker, and is just around the corner from their restaurant. On the menu: Four Barrel drip coffee and espresso drinks, one or two daily sandwiches, and, of course, baked goods. Morning offerings will include scones, muffins, breakfast breads, and sticky buns, and bakery items will rotate daily and include layer cakes (such as the snickerdoodle cake), a variety of cookies, two to three types of cupcakes (like chocolate salted caramel), brownies, blondies, lemon bars, seasonal crostadas, individual panna cottas, and puddings. There will also be sweet and savory housemade breads available to go, from challah to cinnamon cherry swirl. Got a party coming up? Whole layer cakes may be ordered by 4pm one day prior to pickup. Hours will be Tue-Sun 9am-5pm. 1802 Bush St. at Octavia.

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Flickr photo of Hapa Ramen from Umamimart.

Thought I’d update you on a few bits of ramen news, since it’s rapidly becoming a hot topic—although it’s not on the scale of pizza (yet). Eater has the news about a new pop-up ramen shop called ~KEN KEN RAMEN~ in Panchita’s No. 3 on Mondays starting at 6pm. The chef is Bushi-tei line cook Kenji Miyazaki, banging out three different styles of ramen: miso, shoyu, and a shiitake-based vegetarian version. The piece mentions you can top it with day-long-soaked eggs or chashu. You can follow them on Twitter. 3115 22nd St. at S. Van Ness.

Also thought you should know the ~NAMU~ lads are now offering 30 orders of their ramen at the Saturday farmers market at the Ferry Building (starting at 10:45am).

And ~HAPA RAMEN~ is going to be making an appearance at Off the Grid in Fort Mason on Friday August 6th, starting at 5pm.

Just around the corner from ‘hopper HQ, ~EL RANCHO GRANDE~ has opened, offering a classic taqueria menu, from a quesadilla suiza ($6.25) to super burritos ($6.95), plus breakfast dishes and special plates, like enchiladas and a steak plate (both under $10). Oddly enough, there’s a Philly cheese steak sandwich on the menu, too. The Rancho is going to be competing with Green Chile Kitchen just a couple blocks away, and Nopalito and The Little Chihuahua a bit further afield, which all use sustainable ingredients (GCK’s super burrito is $8.95). But I am sure the prices here, and convenient location, will be right for many folks. 855 Divisadero St. at McAllister, 415-673-8226.

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Inside the chinito.

The chaps at ~MISSION CHINESE FOOD~ are already up to some changes on the menu, which they are relaunching this Thursday the 29th. I hope you haven’t become too attached to the chinito, because chefs Danny Bowien and Anthony Myint are fired up to make other things. I know, you have like two more days to get your chinito groove on. They’re going to be adding dishes like a tingly lamb noodle soup, a cha shu pork belly, and more vegetarian options, like a Taiwanese eggplant dish, and they’re swapping out the bok choy for some water spinach. Did you know they also make a few off-the-menu salt-and-pepper crabs each night, that come doused in the mapo tofu sauce? I know, demented. (It’s for dine-in only.) Oh, and look for some white wine on the menu, too—whether it will quench the heat in your mouth or not, I cannot say.

Riding my bike down Valencia Street last week, I was surprised to see the latest location of ~THE CREPE HOUSE~ was already open. (The Crepe House has two other locations, at 1755 Polk Street and 429 Gough Street.) The space was formerly Bistro Annex, and it now looked airy, with open windows and awnings. Eater has a few more details: “the new location will have almost the same menu—complete with his best-selling chicken pesto and sweet banana nutella crepes, Mexican omelets and warm chicken salads—but he’s [owner Bashar Haddadin] added a few pasta dishes to the mix.” Open 8am-10:30pm. 1132 Valencia St. at 22nd St., 415-285-2423.

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Lovers of barbecue, you may want to check out this screening of ~SMOKESTACK LIGHTNING, A DAY IN THE LIFE OF BARBECUE~ by Lolis Eric Elie, a New Orleans-based writer and filmmaker. The event will include a barbecue dinner provided by Memphis Minnie’s,The Epicurean Connection, Wild Thyme Catering and Events, and Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates. Wine will be provided by Highway 12 Winery and Vineyards and Spann Vineyards, with beer by Moonlight Brewing Company and Uncommon Brewers. There will also be music by The Hellhounds. Proceeds from this event will benefit the Southern Foodways Alliance. Tickets available at The Epicurean Connection, Wild Thyme, and Readers’ Books.

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Chef ~RENÉ REDZEPI~ of Noma in Copenhagen is coming to San Francisco October 4th, and will give a presentation at the Delancey Theater on the Embarcadero (he will be in conversation with Daniel Patterson of Coi). This will be his first U.S. event in conjunction with the publication of his new book, Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine (Phaidon, $49.95). The event is free if you purchase a copy of the book from Omnivore Books, or $15 if you don’t want a book. 150 seats are available, and you can contact Omnivore at 415-282-4712 with a credit card number to reserve your space!

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Flickr photo by SidewalkSundays.

Things are looking good for the opening of ~LITTLE STAR PIZZA~’s third location in Albany this week. (Sorry, San Francisco, you already have two locations.) Owners Brian Sadigursky and Jon Guhl will be offering a similar menu to the SF locations (my favorite deep dish to order from them is the “Brass Monkey,” an off-the-menu variation of the Little Star, but with sausage). They will start out doing dinner only, but will introduce lunch service after getting a good foundation in place. The interior space of the restaurant is light and airy, and they intend to be very family friendly. They also plan to expand their seating outdoors, which should work well with the East Bay climate. The soft opening is this Thursday, and they hope to be able to serve beer and wine, but the answer we’re getting in our ABC Magic 8-Ball is “Cannot predict now.” 1175 Solano Ave., Albany; 510-526-7827 (STAR).

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