August 10, 2010

August 10, 2010
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I recently met with chefs Daniel Patterson and Jeremy Fox to discuss their upcoming project, ~PLUM~ (and garden!), but the phone call I received yesterday from Fox held news of another trajectory: alas, he will no longer be involved in Patterson’s Plum project(s). So sorry, Oakland. Well, no need to cry just yet, because Fox is very close to signing a deal on a restaurant space; and who knows where that is, because he’s not talking (yet)—he doesn’t want to jinx it. (Of course I’m hoping for the 415.)

As for who is going to be in the kitchen at Plum, the talented Lauren Kiino will be the opening chef until the Bracina project at Jack London Square gets going in 2011. And Patterson is very close to hiring a chef de cuisine for Plum, so stand by. The opening date is still targeted at mid-September, and in the meantime, you can taste Plum preview meals at Il Cane Rosso on Monday nights in August—the one last night was reportedly all kinds of delicious.

As for the BIG QUESTION, yes, it was an amicable parting—like they say, timing is everything. Patterson found the news to be sudden, yes, but he wishes Fox well with his venture. Fox mentioned to me that he really enjoyed the work he has been doing with Patterson the past few months, and that they’ll still be cooking together at Le Grand Fooding in New York (along with Melissa Perello, Mourad Lahlou, Laurence Jossel, and James Syhabout).

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Photo from BOURBON STEAK.

Michael Mina’s plans for The Westin St. Francis on Union Square have been announced: since he’s moving MICHAEL MINA to the former AQUA location, he’s going to be opening BOURBON STEAK in its place. Restaurant MICHAEL MINA will close mid-September (it’s due to re-open late October on California Street); after a quick remodel, BOURBON STEAK’s opening is set for October 7th. (Are there enough all caps in that paragraph? Good.)

While this will be the fifth BOURBON STEAK location, Mina stresses he’s going to have the San Francisco location really highlight California product, producers, and farms, like All-Star Organics, Hamada Farms, White Crane Springs, Dirty Girl Farms, and Iacopi Farms. And yes, the beef will also be from California: Brandt Farms in Brawley, which raises hormone- and antibiotic-free beef. About that beef: Mina’s technique is to slow poach the cuts of beef in butter and herbs for several hours at a low temperature, and then roasting the meat. (Pure evil.)

Of course there will be a rocking wine list assembled by Rajat Parr: it will emphasize Burgundy, Rhone, and California, accented with selections from Bordeaux and Spain. Handcrafted cocktails will also be available in the 42-seat bar and lounge. (As far as hotel bars go, I loved the bar at MICHAEL MINA—here’s hoping the swish vibe remains.) Dinner will be nightly from 5:30pm-10:30pm; bar open at 5pm. Reservations can be made beginning September 22nd by calling 415-397-3003.

Over at ~SPRUCE~, the Inside Scoop reports executive chef Mark Sullivan is promoting his chef de cuisine, Ben Cohn, to exec. Sullivan will remain busy and involved with Spruce as chef-partner, in addition to continuing to oversee The Village Pub in Woodside and Mayfield Bakery & Cafe in Shallow, ahem, Palo Alto (that one’s for you, MM!). I had a chance to catch up with Sullivan, who said while he’s been busy helping with the 10 Bacchus Management Group’s businesses, Cohn really rose to the occasion and has been doing an amazing job at Spruce, so they wanted to make sure they honored his efforts. Kudos.

I received an email from chef Amy Glaze, who recently did a short stint at Le Club, letting me know she is now working at ~CIRCA~ in the Marina. She was originally brought in as a consulting chef, but since there hasn’t been an executive chef in place since Erik Hopfinger left, she has assumed the title. Sure, it’s a big stretch from Le Bernardin and Guy Savoy in Paris—but let’s see what she puts together over there. Glaze says she is creating a California bistro menu with a seasonal and sustainable focus, highlighting the purity of ingredients. 2001 Chestnut St. at Fillmore, 415-351-0175.

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Photo from 1550 Hyde website.

Liquor licenses announce the new tenant for 1550 Hyde, ~SEVEN HILLS~, listing Alexander Alioto as a partner. Inside Scoop has further details on what’s going in: the restaurant will be “classic, straightforward Italian with seasonal focus,” and the plan is to open by October (they take possession September 1st). It ends up Alioto, a 30-year-old chef, has been staging in Italy for two years—which means he’s fired up to offer up to five kinds of fresh pastas daily. (Even though the name refers to the seven hills of Rome, it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be a Roman-focused menu.) Alioto’s brother-in-law and partner, Alexis Solomou, will run the front of house, and Alioto will be getting assistance on the wine list from his father, Nunzio Alioto (it helps when your pop is a Master Sommelier). Your last day to dine at 1550 is August 14th. 1550 Hyde at Pacific.

Alas, Eater reports the challenging spot where ~RESTAURANT CASSIS~ was located has proven to be a curse to yet another business—the restaurant closed on August 1st after three years there. According to the letter on the Cassis website, a new restaurant called Sweet Maple will be moving in, serving breakfast, brunch, and lunch seven days a week. 2101 Sutter St. at Steiner.

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Photo by Lisa Nourse.

The next couple months will include some guest chef appearances at both $$$$ and $ establishments. Over at ~SAISON~, Joshua Skenes is inviting guest chefs to cook on the outdoor hearth on the Terrace for a Fire Dinner Series. First up: next Wednesday August 18th, Jeremy Fox (Ubuntu, and most recently working with Daniel Patterson on Plum), who told me he’s excited to feature some amazing and unique ingredients from some Napa Valley farms, like buckwheat leaves and asparagus grass. Fox and Skenes will be collaborating on the dishes together. Then on Tuesday September 7th, Mourad Lahlou of Aziza will be on deck, followed by Christopher Kostow of The Restaurant at Meadowood on Tuesday October 12th. The eight-course dinners are $98, and will be paired with rare wines by Mark Bright, an additional $88. Reservations: call 415-828-7990.

SFoodie announced that ~PAL’S TAKEAWAY~ is inviting five local chefs to create a sandwich for their menu. Starting tomorrow, Wednesday, Josh Capone, bread master and general badass at Orson, will be doing a roast lamb, chickpea purée, roasted eggplant, and greens number for the next one-two days. Next week will feature Chris Cosentino’s Mess Piggy; on Wednesday August 25th, Humphry Slocombe’s Jake Godby will be debuting his creation; on Wednesday September 1st is Dynamo Donut’s Sara Spearin; and on September 8th, Sharon Ardiana from Gialina will be doing her magic. Follow their Twitter feed for updates on the menu items. Inside Tony’s Market, 2751 24th St. at Hampshire, 415- 203-4911.

The ever-helpful tablehopper-reader-about-town, Jason B., writes in with these two tidbits: ~BAI THONG~ is taking over the Thepin Thai Cuisine spot at 298 Gough St. at Fell, and ~MIDORI SUSHI~ took over the Sushi Boom location on Geary in the Richmond (3420 Geary Blvd. at Commonwealth).

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Photo from La Boulange.

A couple tablehopper readers let me know about an upcoming open house to discuss the proposed location of a new ~LA BOULANGE BAKERY~ at 1224 9th Avenue, currently the location of Bistro 9. Yup, the Boulangeification of the city continues, almost tracking with the current pizzeria pace. For those who want to attend, the open house is Thursday August 19th at 6pm on the back patio of 1224 9th Avenue. To RSVP or for more information, contact Luis Cuadra at 415-788-1000 ext. 207 or email.

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A new place to unleash your inner Cookie Monster has opened in the Fillmore: ~BUMZY’S COOKIES~. The mother-and-daughter team of Sheila Harris and Toni Young are making their organic cookies daily, seven in all, which are named after family members: Sweet Sadie (sugar cookie), Bumzy Classic (chocolate chip), Bumzy Classic with walnuts (chocolate chip and walnut), TY special (chocolate chip, walnut, and raisin), She La La (peanut butter), J&T (oatmeal, raisin, and walnut), and Walnutty (cookie dough with walnuts)—although I don’t think that last one is a relative. (Unless she was a nutty one?) As for the name Bumzy’s, it’s Toni’s nickname from her dad. They also make hand-churned vanilla ice cream every day for their cookie and ice cream sandwich.

The ladies have been selling their cookies online for the past four years, and decided to open a retail space in their neighborhood. Their cookie recipes have been in the family for 80 years, passed down from Toni’s grandmother, awww. Oh, and tip well, because the proceeds from the tip jar will be donated to the Lima Center, a day program for the homeless at St. Dominic’s Catholic church. Open Tue-Thu 11am-6pm, Fri-Sat 11am-7pm. 1460 Fillmore St. at O’Farrell, 415-346-3222.

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Lumpia Shanghai from Hapa SF at Off the Grid.

If you’d like to see what chef William Pilz (formerly Citizen Cake, now Hapa SF) is up to, swing by La Victoria Bakery in the Mission this Saturday August 14th for dinner. There will be three seatings (first come, first served) at 5pm, 7pm, and 9pm. The delicious-sounding menu is going to feature an array of small plates.

Here’s the lineup (subject to change): sinigang: tamarind infused vegetable broth; nuts: adobo seasoned; dilis: crispy small fish; lumpia Shanghai: classic; sisig: thrice-cooked Long and Bailey pork, jalapeño, lime, soy, and shallot; ukoy: Star Route Farms beet and mackerel fritter, spiced vinegar; kinilaw: market fish, seasonal fruit, citrus marinade; skewer: Soul Food Farms chicken; adobo: a little surprise; adidas: chicken feet; sinangag: garlic fried rice; longaniza; naked pork sausage balls; halo-halo: far from classic, shaved ice, market fruits; and turrón: TCHO chocolate. I know, wow. La Victoria, 2937 24th St. at Alabama, 415-642-7120.

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Photo by Brian Desimone.

Ferragosto is a wonderful tradition in Italy—on August 15th, everyone takes to the hills or the beaches to cool off and relax with friends and family over bountiful picnics (and lots of vino, natch). ~PICCINO~ is going to be doing their own spin on a Ferragosto celebration this coming Sunday: they will be serving roasted choice cuts of pork belly, shoulder, and/or loin, dishing up a summer caponata and seasonal salads, and firing up their signature thin-crust pizzas. The vino, certo, will be pouring. Let’s just hope for the warm weather to show up and do its part. 12pm-5pm.

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I am such a sucker for the Reuben. And I know I am not alone in my deep love for this sandwich. One partner in Reuben love is Meatpaper, which is throwing their third Sandwich Lab, SPREAD, on Tuesday August 17th at ~18 REASONS~. You’ll learn how to make a homemade version of Russian dressing, and along with the spread, you’ll assemble your own Reuben, with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, corned beef, and rye bread, to be thrown on the griddle. As you munch, Faun Skyles, Bi-Rite Market’s deli manager and an overall deli historian in her own right, will discuss the anatomy of the perfect Reuben, as well as the many beliefs behind the birth of this iconic sandwich. Beer will be provided.

Co-hosted by Meatpaper’s Sasha Wizansky and Bi-Rite’s Susan Kim, Sandwich Lab is a four-part series intended to get to the bottom of sandwich-mania. Attendees will learn about the sandwich from the outside in, make and eat many different sandwich types, and investigate why we love sandwiches oh so much. Be prepared to get your hands dirty!