October 12, 2010

October 12, 2010
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Photo from Farina.

As reported in the Scoop last week, opening chef Paolo Laboa of ~FARINA~ has departed. While he doesn’t have any specific plans at this time (and would be one hell of a chef to acquire, ahem), I’ll be sure to keep you posted on where he lands—hopefully somewhere local. Yes, I was a fan.

As of today, Farina has just announced his replacements: the brother and sister cooking team of chefs Fabrizio and Serena Rebollini, also from the Ligurian region of Italy. Their family has owned restaurants since 1919, and they are reportedly already working on the launch of a line of pestos and sauces, as well as contributing to the development of fresh menus and the upcoming Farina cookbook.

Look for continued integration of regional dishes on the menu, and not just from Liguria: some new kitchen hires over the summer include Roman-born sous chef Valerio Martorelli and Sicilian-born master baker, Salvatore Di Stefano. They have been working closely with chef José Canas on the Farina menu.

Big congrats to the local restaurants included in the ~ESQUIRE BEST NEW RESTAURANTS OF 2010~: Frances, and Gather in Berkeley (and extra-big kudos to chef of the year Sean Baker of Gather, who is also now a partner in the restaurant). And I was happy to see Nick Balla of Nombe get the nod for one of the four “chefs to watch.” (The story was broken by Eater National.)

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Chef Michael Mina. Photo provided by Michael Mina.

And so the space at 252 California Street lives on: next Tuesday October 19th, the latest incarnation of ~MICHAEL MINA~ opens for dinner. Mina’s menu, executed by chef de cuisine Jeremy Ravetz, will integrate French and Japanese influences. Lunch will be served Mon-Fri exclusively at the bar, and will feature an array of seasonal small plates as well as salads, soups, and Michael Mina Classics, like the well-known ahi tuna tartare. Guests can also choose to dine at the chef’s tasting table, with a minimum party of eight. Dinner will be served nightly, and will be an à la carte menu that will include items for the table to share, and the option to have the chef cook for your table. For dinner, appetizers will range from $15-$29, and entrées from $31-$45.

The design was by Frost Tsuji Architects (FTA), who were responsible for the design of AQUA twenty years ago. There is a dark walnut bar and tables, with an emphasis on organic and natural textures. A highlight of the experience will be the handmade and custom porcelain by Northern California ceramicists Jered Nelson, Trent Burkett, and Scott Parady. 

The sommelier is Matthew Turner, and the wine list was created by Rajat Parr, featuring an eclectic collection of small, boutique, American wineries as well as celebrated French and European vineyards. There will also be cocktails featuring hand-pressed juices and seasonal ingredients—the lounge will open Mon-Fri at 11:30am, and Sat-Sun at 5pm.                                                             

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Flickr photo from doortoriver.

As so, the end is here: ~ANTICA TRATTORIA~ is serving its last meal this Saturday October 16th. On Sunday October 17th, the restaurant is hosting a Festa di Grazie Mille, an evening of celebration for friends and neighbors from 4pm-8pm. All donations will benefit Project Open Hand. Tanti saluti, Ruggero! 2400 Polk St. at Union, 415-928-5797.

A tablehopper tipster (Jason B.) wrote in to let me know ~FINA ESTAMPA~, that random Latin American-Spanish place on Van Ness, has closed. 1100 Van Ness Ave. at Geary.

Are pop-up restaurants the new street food? Anyway, as reported in the Inside Scoop, since Joey & Eddie’s in North Beach is officially closed, and the new owner hasn’t been revealed yet, current chef-owner Joseph Manzare is launching an interim project called ~BEEBO~. Starting this Thursday (and running through Sunday), you can swing by for rustic Italian food (pasta, pizza, grilled fish, and meat), and there will be a happy hour with 75-cent oysters. Eater posted an image that also reveals $5 margaritas until 7pm. Thu-Sun bar at 4:30pm, dinner 5pm-7pm. 1652 Stockton St. at Union, 415-989-7800.

And as reported in Scoop, ~MACELLATO—THE SANDWICH~ has taken over the Caffè Macaroni space in North Beach. There are just two sandwiches being served every day, the Gallina (a Fulton Valley fried chicken sandwich) and the Italiano (Fra’ Mani salami, mortadella, hot coppa, and provolone)—you can read Jonathan Kauffman’s take on the fried chicken sandwich here. Who’s behind the project is 25-year-old Vito Froncillo, son of Andrea Froncillo of the Stinking Rose Group—Andrea wanted to get his son going in the family biz, and a simple sandwich shop seemed the perfect vehicle for him and his friend Dino Mastino to get their feet wet. Available for takeout, or you can also enjoy a beer or glass of wine if you’re eating in. $9 (tax included), cash only. 11am-6pm daily. 59 Columbus St. at Gibb.

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The bar at Poquito.

For the past couple of years, I’ve heard a tapas bar/restaurant was going to move into the old Franklin’s Bar location on 3rd Street in Dogpatch. A tablehopper reader tipped me off that it was finally open, so I cruised over to check it out this weekend. The name is ~POQUITO~, a Latin American tapas bar, and is a first-time joint effort from Richard Vila and Jason Yoo.

Vila mentioned his mother is Spanish, and his father is from Ecuador, so the menu reflects dishes he grew up with from both of those cultures (and many are from family recipes). You’ll find arepas, llapingachos (Ecuadorian potato pancakes with cheese and green onions), empanadas, along with a few sandwiches (including a Cubano and a media noche), and a variety of tacos, which come on jicama wrappers instead of corn tortillas. There’s also a selection of five plates like shrimp ceviche and chicken under a brick, all $10 and under. There’s a full bar (with flat-screen TVs, natch), with a focus on tequilas, and a list of $9 specialty cocktails.

I have to admit—the menu looks appetizing and has some unique-sounding dishes, but the place is really lacking in décor. Seems like it’s still a work in progress, so don’t come with high style hopes—just come hungry and/or thirsty. Hours are Mon-Sat 11am-9pm, and Sun 11am-3pm (TBD). 2368 3rd St. at 20th St., 415-643-3900.

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The outdoor terrace. Photo by Blair Sneddon Photography.

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One of three bars. Photo by Blair Sneddon Photography.

Due to open at 6pm this Friday October 15th is ~JONES~, a new rooftop restaurant, bar, and lounge (the entrance is to the right of the Gaylord Suites, through the towering wrought iron gates) brought to you by Peter Glikshtern (behind projects such as Public Works, Club Six, Mighty, and Som). You can order drinks on the 8,000-square-foot courtyard terrace complete with a blue steel bar, wind-deterring trees and landscaping, and indoor/outdoor table seating. Sounds like they’ve put the historic building through a dramatic reconstruction, making Jones into an urban oasis and glam after-work drink spot with room for 125.

In about a month or so, chef Ola Fendert of Oola will be adding small plates for happy hour, a full menu for dinner with dishes like beer-steamed mussels and pizza, and chocolate-stuffed French toast and chicken and waffles for Sunday brunch. Not only will the menu be local and seasonal with organically farmed meat and organic, fair-trade coffees and teas, but the space will have lots of eco-friendly details from “green” linens to solar energy and their own composting system in the works. Hours will eventually be Tue-Wed 4pm-11pm, Thu-Sun 4pm-2am, with brunch 11am-3pm, Sun only. 620 Jones St. at Geary, 415-614-9265.

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Tomorrow (Wednesday) at ~PAL’S TAKEAWAY~, their guest chef sandwich series continues with a return visit from Sara Spearin of Dynamo Donut. She will be offering an unglazed sour cherry-cornmeal donut sandwich with smoky roast turkey, spicy apple slaw, cheddar-jalapeño spread, and Annabelle’s wild arugula. Yeah, you read that correctly: donut sandwich. Inside Tony’s Market, 2751 24th St. at Hampshire, 415-203-4911.

And starting this Thursday, the guest chef series resumes at the ~TACOLICIOUS MARKET STAND~, with Chris Kronner, Bar Tartine, on Thursday October 14th; Michael Tusk, Quince, is doing duck tacos with red cabbage and spiced quince on October 21st; Hoss Zaré, Zaré at Fly Trap, is on October 28th; and Josh Skenes, Saison, is on November 4th. It’s an eight-week gig going through December, with upcoming appearances from Grace Nguyen from Out the Door, Jenn Puccio from Marlowe, and more. Proceeds go to CUESA’s education programs.

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Reservations (limited to 96 between two seatings) go on sale tomorrow, Wednesday October 13th, for the next ~STREET FIXE~, The ‘Wiches! The sit-down street food event will be on Tuesday November 9th at ~HEART~.

This third event is a five-course all-sandwich dinner ($35), and will feature the culinary stylings of Kitchenette (Willey Farm beet, cucumber and persimmon sandwich), Good Foods (smoked and seared pork belly slider), Soul Cocina (sloppy Jose poquitín with Soul Cocina chorizo), Toasty Melts (duo of melts: spicy cheddar with tomato, cotswald with cranberry), and Sweet Constructions (dulce de leche ice cream sandwich).

The first seating is 6pm-7:30pm, and the second seating is 8:30pm-10pm. Special wine menu and select craft beers by Heart (prices vary).

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Lisa Rogovin from the In the Kitchen with Lisa tour I took.

This Saturday October 16th, you have a couple of ways to pack on some delicious calories. First up, Parties That Cook and Lisa Rogovin have partnered up for an event called ~MOUTHWATERING MISSION~. You’ll start with a two-hour interactive culinary tasting tour of the Mission, including a stop into La Palma Mexicatessen, where you’ll learn about some of the ingredients you’ll cook with later. After reconvening back at the La Victoria Bakery kitchen, the group moves into a cooking class with Parties That Cook, featuring Mexican-inspired dishes such as little chicken tacos with chocolate mole and queso fresco, and mini chalupas filled with chorizo and avocado. Read all the details here. $95 per person. Starts at 11am.

Also at La Victoria Bakery will be ~HELP A BROTHER OUT!~, an event to help raise funds for Nick Harper of Wholesome Bakery, who was just recently diagnosed with brain cancer. There will be a bakesale from 11am-3pm, featuring treats from Mission Minis, Fat Bottom Bakery, Wholesome Bakery, Bike Basket Pies, Mad for Madelines, MaliNumNum Treats, Alfajores by El Porteño, Sour Flour, and more. And then from 6pm-10pm, there will be a street food party, with vittles from Soul Cocina, Slow Jams, Hapa SF, El Porteño Empanadas, Gumbo Cart, Adobo Hobo, Dezy’s Drinks, Chai Cart, Smitten Ice Cream, Sataysfied, and more. Proceeds will go to Nick’s Rad Recovery Fund.

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Photo: © tablehopper.com.

This seems almost like a no-brainer: ~THE FRONT PORCH~ is starting brunch this Saturday October 16th from 10am-2:30pm. On the menu: biscuits with country gravy; country ham and red eye gravy with two eggs any way and homefries; sweet potato waffles with syrup and toasted pecans; parfait with seasonal fruit, yogurt, and granola; baked egg with grits, wild mushrooms, and spinach; and huevos rancheros with tortilla, beans, salsa, and guacamole. The lunch menu—which includes chicken and waffles—will also be available during brunch. Mon-Sat 5:30pm-10:30pm, Sun 5pm-10pm, lunch Wed-Fri 12pm-3pm, brunch (hooray!) 10am-2:30pm. 65A 29th St. at Tiffany.

Another addition to the brunch scene is ~THE SYCAMORE~, which is starting brunch service this weekend. On the menu: their now-famous pork belly donuts with maple Maker’s Mark glaze (3 for $3); carnitas Benedictos, a housemade corn sope topped with carnitas, poached egg, jalapeño hollandaise, pico de gallo, avocado, and cotija cheese ($12); along with a variety of omelets, sliders, salads, and sandwiches—including their popular roast beef. And bottomless mimosas. Brunch is served Sat-Sun 11am-3pm. 2140 Mission St. at Sycamore (at 18th St.), 415-252-7704.

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Talk about a trifecta of talent! ~OMNIVORE BOOKS~ is hosting Melissa Clark (yes, the one who writes A Good Appetite, the weekly feature in the New York Times Dining Section) this Friday October 15th from 6pm-7pm. She will be talking about her book, In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite: 150 Recipes and Stories About the Food You Love.

And then on Saturday October 16th (3pm-4pm), Connie Green (AKA the queen of foraging) and Sara P. Scott will be talking about The Wild Kitchen: Seasonal Foraged Foods and Recipes. And then later that evening, from 6pm-7pm, Dorie Greenspan will be there to talk about French home cooking and her book, Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. All events are free.

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The counter at Bar Jules.

Chef Christopher Lee, most recently of Eccolo, is busy with his popup store, and is now doing a popup dinner series called Cooking From Weeds. The first one is this Sunday October 17th at Bar Jules in Hayes Valley. According to his post, “It’ll be in the spirit of Oktoberfest (well, maybe an Alsatian version) with a simple three-course meal of homemade sauerkraut, weisswurst, and braised smoky bacon. First course will something very vegetable, and a roasted fruit dessert. We’ll have a couple of California craft brews and some nice wines to choose from.” Sounds delish, right? The price is $55 (wine not included), cash only. Read about how to make reservations on his blog—first come, first served. 609 Hayes St. at Laguna.

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Fan of New Orleans cuisine? Wanna taste what chef Justin Simoneaux is going to be cooking for us when Boxing Room opens next year? Next Monday October 18th, ~ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR~ is going to be hosting Lagniappe Dinner, a preview to Boxing Room, and a benefit For the Bayou, a non-profit organization fostering restoration, protection, and aid to the Louisiana coastal wetlands. The four-course prix-fixe menu will include Star Route Farms baby beets with celery root and Creole remoulade; Monterey squid with housemade tasso, lemon aioli, and crostini; Long and Bailey Farms pork tenderloin with candied yams, braised greens, and spiced cane syrup; and warm pecan pie with bourbon ice cream. The menu is $35; and you can add beer and wine pairings for $15 (Boxing Room will eventually offer over a dozen draft options). Dinner is from 5pm-10pm in Absinthe’s private dining room. Space is limited; reservations required (415-551-1590).

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Do you know about the ~STREETSMART4KIDS DINE OUT AND DONATE~ campaign? From October 1st through November 15th, 50 of San Francisco’s restaurants are participating in the program. When paying your bill at participating restaurants, diners are asked to leave $3 or more per table, in cash, in the provided STREETSMART4KIDS check-presenter envelope.

Volunteers collect the donations, deposit them at Wells Fargo Bank, and at the end of the program, 100% of the money collected is distributed to the Huckleberry House programs at Huckleberry Youth Programs, Casa de las Madres, and Larkin Street Youth Services—none of the donated dollars will be used to fund STREETSMART4KIDS administrative costs. Take a look at the list of participating restaurants here.  

This Friday October 15th, ~MODERN COFFEE~ in the historic Tribune Tower in downtown Oakland is throwing their one-year anniversary party. They will be holding special coffee tastings throughout the evening from their selection of local roasters, and featuring food and drink from some of their favorite local purveyors. They’ll also be unveiling the photography exhibit “In the Moment” by Bay Area photographers DeCenzo-Cordova. 6pm-9pm. 411 13th St. at Franklin, Oakland, 510-835-8000.

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At Ozumo San Francisco.

This is my kind of deal: ~OZUMO OAKLAND~ has introduced a new $35 prix-fixe menu, available nightly from 5:30pm until close. The four-course menu includes multiple choices for each course. Recent entrée selections have included a kushi platter with five skewers from the robata grill; jidori chicken, a chicken breast and thigh with ginger tare glaze; or gyu kakuni, Niman Ranch short ribs in an aka miso sauce. Sunday dinner service has just started (along with a Sunday happy hour starting at 4pm, and dinner from 4:30pm until 9pm). And on Sundays only, select bottles of sake will be offered at 50% off the listed menu price. 2251 Broadway at Grand, Oakland, 510-286-9866.