August 3, 2010

August 3, 2010
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Time for a liquid nitrogen cocktail.

Kudos to Anthony Myint and his team: the opening of ~COMMONWEALTH~ is very, very close. Like, next Tuesday August 10th, if everything goes according to plan. Executive chef Jason Fox (previously Bar Tartine) has assembled quite the menu, which bridges contemporary American and Californian styles. Sample dishes include compressed watermelon, tofu, nori, cucumber, wild greens, togarashi ($10); wonderful-sounding fish dishes like fluke crudo, peach, txakoli gel, tarragon, wild seaweeds ($14) and corn custard, sea urchin, chorizo, lobster emulsion, jalapeño ($15); while meatier choices include grilled lamb tongue, chard, burnt eggplant, miso, mint ($12) or pork shoulder, French beans, plum, lime, Marcona almond ($11). (You can take a look at the entire menu here.)

In case you were getting extra-excited about those price points, the menu is structured around medium-sized portions, so you would order two-three dishes for a complete meal. There is also a $60 six-course tasting menu, with $10 of the price donated to charity.

As I previously mentioned, the GM is Xelina Leyba, another Bar Tartine alum, and the chef de cuisine is Ian Muntzert (pictured), formerly at Coi, Zuni Cafe, Nopa, and Bar Tartine. AGM Sarah Elliott, a certified sommelier, has assembled a tight list of 35 wines. One drink that is sure to be a hit is made with Château de Laubade Floc de Gascogne (a sweet and light aperitif), melon juice, shiso, and raspberries, and it all comes together in a bath of liquid nitrogen (it will obviously be assembled in the kitchen instead of in front of folks at the bar—don’t need anyone to lose a hand, or have their dinner frozen).

The former El Herradero 45-seat space has been transformed by Eric Heid of Martin Heid (Spork, Range). There is a minimalist-meets-modernist style, with blonde hickory and stained hickory floors, white brick, suspended globe lights (a few contain air plants), a banquette along the wall and front window, and a 10-seat bar, with four of those seats wrapping into the kitchen. There is also a lot of light from the front window, and a skylight, which will lend an open feeling. In case you were wondering about the huge Hunt’s Quality Donuts signage along the side of the building, when they were taking off the El Herradero panels, the vintage 1950s-era mural was revealed. It appears it was a production facility for the Hunt’s donut shops around town—they’re trying to get more details about the 1920s building’s history.

A number of tables will be held for walk-ins, although you can also reserve in advance. Like, now. Hours are Sun, Wed-Thu 5:30pm-10pm, and until 11pm Fri-Sat.

After change-of-use permit delays, and stops and starts, Jocelyn Bulow’s ~PAPITO~ is slated to open tonight in Potrero Hill. You can check out the rather grande menu (full o’ ESL misspellings, oops). Executive chef Rodolfo Castellanos Reyes will be offering classic Mexican dishes like guacamole, grilled corn, queso fundido, and ceviche. But some new taco additions include the previously mentioned duck confit tacos (you can also get the duck in a quesadilla), or deep-fried cod in a Negro Modelo beer batter. A super burrito clocks in at $11 (hey, organic ingredients don’t come cheap), so you might want to just upgrade a little more to the platos fuertes, like pork enchiladas ($16) or the bistec asado ($21), a flat-iron steak, with sweet potato fries, caramelized onions, chiles toreados (roasted jalapeños), chimichurri, and chipotle aioli. Lunch will start on Thursday August 5th, and hours will then be 11:30am-10:30pm. And since it’s tiny, take-out should prove to be a popular option.

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Opening this Friday August 6th is ~PEDRO’S CANTINA~, the latest addition in Pete Osborne’s Pete’s Tavern/MoMo’s ballpark empire. The 8,500-square-foot space (yes, you read that correctly) will be connected to Pete’s Tavern, and will feature a 360-degree bar that can seat 43—serving signature margaritas, sangria, and eight beers on tap—plus there are 22 high-definition 50-inch plasma TV screens, and two private dining rooms. The menu from executive chef Damon Hall and chef de cuisine Hugo Castaneda is value-priced, with tacos ($3), burritos, and quesadillas that you can order with carnitas, machaca beef, chile verde pork, spicy chicken, or marinated grilled prawns. The 30-foot ceilings, brick walls, and original timber will give it a loft-like but rustic feel. Hours are 11:30am-12am. 128 King St. at 3rd St., 415-896-5644.

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Spire photo by Andrew Ho.

Since ~SPIRE RESTAURANT & BAR~’s liquor license came through, dinner service has now been added. Starters include poached diver scallop ($14) with sweet corn succotash and green chili butter; and roasted pork belly and smoked hog jowls ($11) with collard greens and sweet corn bread; mains include Serrano-wrapped rabbit saddle ($25) with charred dates, baby turnips, globe carrots, and saba dressing; and half a junior Rocky chicken ($18) with savory mushroom bread pudding and garlic haricot verts. Dinner service is Tue-Sat 5:30pm-10pm (until 11pm Fri-Sat). Oh, and happy hour is Mon-Fri 4:30pm-7pm. 685 3rd St. at Townsend, 415-947-0000.

Also in SoMa, ~MEXICO DF~ is starting a brunch buffet every weekend. For $15 per person ($8 for kids under 12), there will be 12 different options, including: Swiss enchiladas, chicken mole, chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, and more. (An à la carte menu is available upon request.) You can also take your pick of bottomless mimosas for $8, or stick with $16 pitchers of micheladas. Brunch starts Saturday August 7th, and will run Sat-Sun 9am-3pm.139 Steuart St. at Mission, 415-808-1048.

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Financial District workers should be super stoked at some point next week when Dennis Leary’s (Canteen, The Sentinel) ~GOLDEN WEST~ hopefully and officially opens its doors. (Early or late next week? It’s anyone’s guess. I hear the current target is Wednesday.) The take-out bakery and sandwich spot is going to start slowly and carefully, adding an item or two to its repertoire each day (there will also be some hot dishes).

What kinds of dishes? Some sample breakfast items off the provisional menu include brioche with nutella ($2), a bear claw ($3), a ham biscuit ($3), and ratatouille or pork and beans with egg ($4 and $5). For lunch, it looks like there will be a short rib sandwich ($8.50), spicy chicken salad ($8.50), a BBQ eggplant sandwich ($8), a croque-madame ($8.50), and hello there, pho to go ($8.50), featuring ginger broth with brisket, noodles, chili, and cilantro. As a reminder, all items are to go. (Desserts are TBD.) You’ll also be able to perk up with double strength coffee from Mr. Espresso (I have a feeling Dennis will be drinking it like it’s water), and he mentioned there may be a coffee milkshake, or vanilla, as well. Hours will be Mon-Fri 8am-3pm. Just look for the glowing Au sign (the symbol on the periodic table for gold).

Yo Precita Park peeps: Rachel Herbert, owner of Dolores Park Cafe and Duboce Park Cafe, is going to be opening a third, ~PRECITA PARK CAFE~, in the former Rite Way Market corner location. It’s a total build-out, so she’s targeting an opening in the next three-six months. The menu will highlight some of the favorite dishes from her other two cafes, but Herbert will also be gearing Precita’s menu to be very kid-friendly (she also alluded to some new gourmet offerings, but couldn’t let me know more at this time). Hours will be 7am until 8pm or 9pm (possibly even 10pm on the weekend). 500 Precita Ave. at Alabama.

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Do you have kids and you’re looking for the perfect location for little Bella’s birthday? Or maybe you have a hipster party posse and want access to a private rumpus room. No matter what your story, you’ll be happy with the news (thanks to Mission Local for breaking the story) that the ~ST. FRANCIS FOUNTAIN~ has taken over the neighboring Candy Kitchen Lingerie boutique that closed earlier this year, and has converted it into a private party space. They’ll also be using the additional dining room space on weekend mornings and afternoons (ideal for large parties hungry for some breakfast—which is not the way you’d ever want to show up at the St. Francis), and in the winter when it’s raining and they can’t have an outside section. 2801 24th St., at York, 415-826-4200.

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My lunch in Goa at Mum’s Kitchen in Miramar (with chicken cafreal and pomfret curry).

I was pretty stoked to read this tidbit on Chowhound about the new ~VIVA GOA~ (N.B. beware the website music—the link to turn it off is tricky) Indian restaurant that recently opened in the Marina. My sis and I only had limited time to eat in Goa when we took our trip to India, but the food was really delicious (gotta love those Portuguese influences). I was happy to see dishes on the menu like pork vindaloo, rechardo pomfret stuffed with red spice paste (my sis and I were addicted to pomfret), and the freaking delish chicken cafreal or xacuti curry, plus bebinca for dessert. This is now at the top of my “check it out, yo” list. (There also appears to be a lunch buffet for $8.99.) 2420 Lombard St. at Scott, 415-440-2600.

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Awwww, ~BISTRO CLOVIS~, that Frenchie place on Market Street that you have probably driven by a thousand times as you zip up Franklin Street, has closed its doors after 20 years of feeding the symphony crowd. (Originally reported by Tasting Table.) 1596 Market St. at Franklin.

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Photo from Tenderblog.

A couple sites (Tenderblog, 7x7) just percolated the news of ~LITTLE BIRD~, a new cafe that has opened in the former Caffeine space (next door to Whiskey Thieves in the Tenderloin). According to the Tenderblog post, the owners are Dave Blood (don’t piss him off, because he will cut you, ha ha), the manager of Whiskey Thieves, Dirty Thieves, and Thieves Tavern, and the Thieves’ owner’s wife, Chelsea Addison Torres, who designed the space. You’ll be able to fire up with both Ritual and De La Paz coffees (there are plans to carry more coffees down the road), and there’s a La Marzocco machine in the house. 7x7 reports there are also donuts from Bob’s, and bagels. And parents with kiddies, there’s a kids’ area with toys and wee little chairs, where you can caffeinate while little Kelsey chews on her Curious George stuffed monkey. There are reportedly plans to serve sandwiches and other lunch options, plus Wi-Fi is imminent, and outdoor seating—and there’s even the potential of opening later for bar bites. Hours for now are Mon-Fri 7am-3pm, and Sat-Sun 8am-3pm (or thereabouts). You can follow them on Twitter (natural fit, that). 835 Geary St. at Larkin.

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Photo from SusieCakes.

Just in case you have a sweet tooth and limited funds this Saturday August 7th, swing by ~SUSIECAKES~ in the Marina for their birthday party, with 40-cent cookies all day, including chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, and iced molasses. The main shindig will be at the Greenbrae location in Marin, which is turning four, with a kid-friendly party from 1pm-4pm (the first 100 customers from 1pm-4pm will receive a free box of four mini cupcakes), and the same deal on cookies. SusieCakes Marina, 2109 Chestnut St. at Steiner; SusieCakes Marin/Greenbrae, Bon Air Shopping Center.

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GiveChange, a Bay Area non-profit that raises support for local causes, is collaborating with La Cocina, San Francisco’s non-profit food business incubator. GiveChange is supporting La Cocina’s new mobile vending program that enables low-income entrepreneurs to create mobile food businesses. The GiveChange fundraiser kicked off last week on iGiveChange.org.

The goal is to raise $5,000, which will allow La Cocina to host mobile vending workshops for over a year. San Francisco businesses are showing their support by rewarding donors with gifts and deals. Participating businesses include Bi-Rite, Lime, Grasshopper Salon, Taverna Aventine, and more. If you’re a fan of street food, Off The Grid vendors will also be rewarding donors with deals redeemable at Off The Grid Fridays. To top it off, GiveChange and The Ambassador will be hosting another Party2Give benefit event on August 27th. As always, 100% of proceeds from all fundraising efforts will go to La Cocina.

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Yup, it’s that time of the year again: Burning Man camp fundraising. And since I’d most definitely like to attend one of the Tasty/Dirty Dishes happy hours on the playa this month, then I should share some details about their upcoming event here in SF: ~OISHII!: A SUSHI SUPPER CLUB~. From their announcement: “Join us … in a chic loft setting. You’ll learn how to roll sushi like a pro, eat the finest sushi featuring fresh fish from Mission izakaya Nombe, enjoy a three-course sake pairing, plus take home your own sushi rolling mat and chopsticks! For your aural pleasure, Tasty DJs Diagnosis and B-Haul will be creating a sushi groove for you to dine to. Come early or stay late to enjoy cocktails on the patio and mingle.” Seatings are at 6pm and 9pm. $55 includes sushi, sushi class, and sake pairings. Cash bar for cocktails, beer, and additional sake.

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Cibo’s poached egg plate.

As I stated in my Quintessential Tastes of Marin article for Marin Magazine last month, I’m already a fan of breakfast at ~CIBO~ in Sausalito—so I can only imagine how tasty their new dinner will be. The menu includes a variety of salads ($8-$10); mac and cheese ($10) made with pancetta and smoked mozzarella; and entrées like ricotta gnocchi ($15) with summer squash, cherry tomatoes, corn, brown butter, sage, and pine nuts; a roasted pork shoulder ($17) with creamy polenta, grilled red onions, and green beans; a vegetable plate ($14); and a fish of the day (A.Q.). Dinner will be served Fri-Sun until 9pm. 1201 Bridgeway, Sausalito, 415-331-2426.

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Photo from The Tavern at Lark Creek.

Up in Larkspur, ~THE TAVERN AT LARK CREEK~ has not one but two newly appointed chefs, Clint Davies and Aaron Wright. Their new summer menu includes chilled white corn soup with maitake mushrooms and crispy pancetta ($8.95) and Alaskan halibut with farro, mushrooms, white corn, snap pea, and radish salad ($19.95). FYI, there’s also the “Pick Any Three” prix-fixe menu: guests can pick any starter, any main course, and any dessert for only $29.95. Since the weather must be nicer north of the bay than it is here, the Tavern has opened their creek-side patio, seating 48, and street-side Redwood Grove, with new flagstone paving, for cocktails and dining. 234 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur, 415-924-7766.

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Hey meaty-lovin’ folks, it’s the last week for contestants to enter Protein University’s ~WHO’S YOUR BUTCHER?~ contest. The winner will receive an all-expenses paid, four-day trip to an “all-star” butcher retreat at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina, in mid-August. Additionally, the winner will join the crew at Primal this September in the Bay Area, as well as receive online exposure to millions of viewers, and over $2,500 in prizes.

Contestants can enter here—they just need to fill out the submission form, and upload a short video clip of their butchery technique. All videos will be broadcast on ProteinU’s YouTube Channel, and on August 10th, the ProteinU Advisory Board will announce the top 20. The vote then goes to the national audience, when the public will determine the final winner. Deadline for video submissions just extended to August 13th, 2010. Get carvin’!