October 19, 2010

October 19, 2010
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Photo from Domaine Carneros.

I’m going to be heading back up to wine country for another book signing event, and this one will also feature one of my greatest loves: bubbles. On Thursday November 11th, I will be at the lovely ~DOMAINE CARNEROS~ from 5:30pm-7:30pm, for an event around my book (The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco: Find the Right Spot for Every Occasion).

There will be a reception, and then a book discussion and Q&A in the Le Rêve Room, followed by a book signing in the Salon. Bites will be provided by Janine Falvo of Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar. And, of course, we’ll be tasting some of Domaine Carneros’s delish sparkling wines (for $25 per person, you will get two tastes and hors d’oeuvres); my book will be available for $17.50. Hope to see you there—let’s cin cin!

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Opening party photo by Drew Altizer.

I had a chance to check out the new ~TWENTY FIVE LUSK~ at a pre-opening party last week. For a second there it felt like 1996, with all the football types and fillies prancing about (indubitably there because Joe and Jennifer Montana were co-hosts). The sprawling SoMa/South Beach restaurant dates back to 1917 (it was a smokehouse and meat processing facility), and features multiple levels, including a spacious downstairs basement/lounge area with suspended fireplaces and smaller rooms (perfect for birthday gatherings), and upstairs is a 120-seat dining room full of booths, along with semi-private dining rooms. Designer/architect Cass Calder Smith included lots of natural timber and exposed brick that play against the gleaming surfaces and glassed-in kitchen. (You can read many more details in the hardhat column about the space here.)

The contemporary American menu of “approachable fine dining” from chef Matthew Dolan (formerly of Garibaldi’s and Emeril’s in New Orleans) includes appetizers like seared ivory salmon, soft-poached quail egg, smoked potato, and Niçoise olive vinaigrette; cauliflower crème brûlée, sunchoke escabeche, and truffled wild arugula; and grilled quail, ginger carrot purée, caramelized onion, and black pepper-quail demi-glace. Mains include seared diver scallops, cauliflower purée, roasted matsutake mushrooms, and lobster cream; verbena-steamed Pacific halibut, sea beans, tomato, eggplant, and lemon-lobster vinaigrette; and braised short ribs, roasted sweet potatoes, wilted escarole, and syrah demi-glace. Starters range from $10-$15, and mains $20-$27. His partner in the venture is general manager/managing partner Chad Bourdon. Dinner Sun-Thu 5:30pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm; bar and lounge: Sun-Thu 5pm-11pm, and Fri-Sat 5pm-12am (weekend brunch is coming soon).

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Interior photo by Drew Alitzer.

Opening tonight in the former AQUA space, here’s a look at the menus at ~MICHAEL MINA~. For lunch at the bar, there is an extensive menu of apps like smoked sea trout blini, crème fraîche, American caviar ($14); crispy Dungeness crab “BLT” with charred tomato, jamon serrano ($12); steak tartare of hand-chopped tenderloin, and quail egg ($11); and grilled blue prawns paella arancini, with piquillo aïoli ($9). Mains include a Japanese hamburger on a housemade sticky bun, with kabocha squash fries ($18) and slow-roasted leg of lamb fattoush salad with Niçoise olives ($17). There is also a chef’s daily small plate tasting menu ($39).

For dinner, high rollers can start with some caviar or chilled shellfish, or there’s a variety of hors d’oeuvres for $18 per person (foie gras PB&J, cured ocean trout, quail egg sandwich, prawn paella, and bay scallop ceviche). Starters include geoduck and pork belly with watercress, pumpkin purée, and vadouvan curry ($18); a tasting of provincial shellfish and uni toast ($18); and Wolfe Ranch quail with harissa glaze, pita panzanella, and Iranian pistachios ($19). (Yes, the tuna tartare is on there, for $19). The kabocha squash soufflé with black truffle cream ($14 per person) also caught my eye. Mains include a duo of Pacific fish, lobster vinaigrette, hearts of palm, and Thai basil ($39); a truffle-stuffed Jidori chicken with cockscomb fricassée and Castelmagno mac and cheese ($32); Brandt Farms beef cap, porcini marmalade, red orach, and pommes dauphine ($46); and the option to go for a five-course tasting menu ($95).

Cocktails range from $10-$12, and include the Bar Bancourt, with Barbancourt 8-year-old rum, fig, lemon, and balsamic. For more details on the restaurant, read last week’s post. You can view a slideshow of the interior on Grub Street here.

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Flickr photo by Rick Audet.

A tablehopper reader let me know something was going on at ~MECCA~ on Market Street, and Scoop revealed the details just as I was heading over. The restaurant moving in will be called Pudong, serving traditional Shanghaiese dishes, along with French elements. The chef is Jason Xu, most recently the executive chef of Shanghai 1930 (he was there for 10 years). The crazy-clubby vibe will be no more (I used to call the place Armageddon, after getting taken down too many nights at that horseshoe bar in the ’90s). New décor highlights will include white marble and stone floors instead of the current concrete, and a less-moody color scheme. The current targeted opening date is December 1st. 2029 Market St. at Dolores.

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Photo from Arizmendi website.

After handing out complimentary treats to passers-by on Valencia Street for the past couple weeks, ~ARIZMENDI BAKERY~ has opened a fifth bakery cooperative, just next door to Heart. You’ll be able to pick up a variety of their tried-and-true breads, pastries (like a pecan roll), and of course their seasonal California pizza, available by the slice ($2.50), half pie ($10), or entire pie ($20). And in a nod to the neighborhood, there will be bolillos, a sweet Mexican bread, on Fridays. You can also get Equator coffee, espresso, tea, and their special housemade chai. Hours are Mon, Wed, and Thu 7am-7pm, Fri 7am-9pm, Sat-Sun 8am-7pm. 1268 Valencia St. at 24th St., 415-826-9218.

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Photo from Goody Goodie.

According to a post on SFoodie, a new café called ~STARSTREAM~ from John Quintos (Cento, Special Xtra, and Vega) and Remi Hayashi (owner of Goody Goodie) is soft opening this Thursday October 21st . You’ll be able to pick up breakfast, lunch, and Blue Bottle coffee, and eventually some additional treats beyond the lineup you’ll find at Hayashi’s Folsom Street window. According to the post, “She plans to bake breakfast pastries, breads, and sandwich rolls, as well as more elaborate cakes and tarts. The space came with a pizza oven, so Hayashi will also be doing individual Roman-style pizzas at lunch, which she first began baking at Splendido … The partners are working on [a] beer and wine license, and eventually hope to do dessert pairings not just with wine but with tea and coffee as well.” There will be 4-6 kinds of pizza and Italian-inspired sandwiches on housemade bread. You’ll find 30 seats, including a farm table that seats 18. For now, coffee and pastries will be served Mon-Fri 8am-4pm, and look for weekend brunch to launch later on. 1830 Harrison St. at 14th St., 415-864-6390.

Since chef David Bazirgan of ~CHEZ PAPA RESTO~ is off to Fifth Floor, his replacement has just been named, Steven Rojas. Chef Rojas grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and his background includes TRU in Chicago, Patina in Los Angeles, executive chef at Saddle Peak Lodge in Calabasas (where he received a Michelin star), and most recently, he was chef de cuisine at El Bizcocho at the Rancho Bernardo Inn. His menu will continue to offer the restaurant’s French Provençal-inspired cuisine; he starts later this month. 4 Mint Plaza between Mission and Market near 5th St., 415-546-4134.

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Photo from Khoon Chang.

After 22 years in business, Lower Pac Heights residents are no longer getting their pad Thai at ~NEECHA THAI~—the owners have retired. The location has morphed into the newly opened Sweet Lime Thai Cuisine. 2100 Sutter St. at Steiner, 415-674-7515.

And not too far away, after being in business since 1989, the bright purple ~KHOON CHANG THAI CUISINE~ is going to have new owners and will be featuring a new name in a couple months, according to an employee there. 1901 Divisadero St. at California, 415-567-9443.

Looks like I never reported on this: the Upper Haight’s ~MASSAWA~ is closed. I spoke with the owner, who is currently looking for a new location, stand by.1538 Haight St. at Ashbury, 415-621-4129.

And tablehopper reader Jason B. also alerted me that SoMa’s ~MEDICI LOUNGE~ has closed. 299 9th St. at Folsom.

~ZERO ZERO~ is starting weekend brunch service this Saturday October 23rd, with dishes like Star Route Farm nettle pizza with house-cured pancetta, roasted garlic, and a poached egg; fried chicken thighs with waffles and chestnut honey; creamy polenta with braised Llano Seco pork, chanterelles, and a semolina-crusted egg; and wild mushroom and Parmesan frittata with crispy pancetta and herb salad. There will also be ricotta doughnuts with quince marmalade for those of you with a sweet tooth.

Since there’s a full bar, you’ll be able to partake in brunch cocktails like the Heavenly Bubble (Hangar One Citron, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, Meyer lemon, and Prosecco) and the Orchard Buzz (Laird’s Applejack, apple shrub, honey, and egg white). Brunch will be served Sat-Sun 11am-2:30pm.

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Photo of Holly Horn by Dan Dion.

Comedienne Holly Horn and car and racing legend Kjell Qvale are opening ~HOLLY’S~ on November 4th in the historic Don Lee building at 1000 Van Ness Avenue (it was the original home and showroom for Cadillac, built in 1921). Holly’s is going to be a comedy club, bar, and restaurant open six nights a week. The casual menu will include a trio of turkey, beef, and tuna sliders; omelets (available late night); and during happy hour (Mon-Fri 4pm-7pm), there will be a fresh air-popped popcorn bar with a variety of fixin’s.

The 200-seat space will have leopard print carpet (rawr), hand-carved wood lounge tables surrounding a half-moon-shaped stage, and a wood-paneled wall framing the lounge, which will also feature sectional couches. The first comedian to headline at Holly’s will be David Crowe. Open Mon-Fri 4pm-2am, and Sat 6:30pm-2am. All tickets are general admission and exclude food, beverage, or gratuity; two-item minimum. Mezzanine level of 1000 Van Ness Ave. at O’Farrell, 415-346-5597.

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Unicorn illustration by Kathryn Macnaughton.

Meatpaper is busy with a couple cool upcoming events. First, this Thursday October 21st, they will be partnered up with Blue Bottle on the SFMOMA rooftop for another Food & Thought evening—this one will feature dishes that evoke secrets and disguises. Look for dishes and desserts by Ryan Ostler and Katharine Zacher of Gypsy Kitchen and Catering, Chris Kronner of Bar Tartine, Richie Nakano of Hapa Ramen, and Leah Rosenberg and Caitlin Freeman of Blue Bottle. There will be complimentary beverages from 6pm-7pm, with wine by Scaggs Vineyard and beer by Trumer Pils. The rooftop event is free with half-price museum entry. (Free for SFMOMA members.) Tasting plates $5. 6pm-8pm. Rooftop Garden & Cafe at SFMOMA.

And then on Monday November 1st, there will be a Meat & Greet at Café Rouge. The chefs and butchers featured in Primal Cuts: Cooking with America’s Best Butchers (by Meatpaper editor Marissa Guggiana) will serve tastings, both meaty and non, along with locally produced wine, beer, and spirits! It will also be a launch party for Meatpaper Issue 13 and SANDWICH #1, and photographic portraits by Julio Duffoo will be exhibited. $35; advance tickets are required. Purchase tickets here. 6pm-9pm. Café Rouge, 1782 4th St., Berkeley.

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SF Food Wars has teamed up with food columnist Amanda Hesser of The New York Times to present this special event, ~THE ESSENTIAL NEW YORK TIMES COOKBOOK-ULTIMATE POTLUCK COCKTAIL BRUNCH~ on Sunday November 7th. This official West Coast launch of the cookbook will include a signing session with Hesser, and there will also be cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and desserts adapted from recipes in the book by 15 local chefs and bartenders. The lineup of talent includes Mourad Lahlou, Louis Maldonado, and Melissa Chou (Aziza); Jacques Bezuidenhout and Morgan Young (Fifth Floor); Jake Godby and Sean Vahey (Humphry Slocombe); Elizabeth Prueitt (Tartine Bakery); Chris Kronner (Bar Tartine); Jennifer Puccio (Marlowe); Christa Manalo (Beretta); Bridget Batson (Gitane); Adam Timney (Starbelly); Richie Nakano (Hapa Ramen); and Jennifer Musty (Batter Bakery). I know, that’s quite the showing. Beverages sponsored in part by Craft Distillers and St. George Spirits.

Omnivore Books will host a pop-up book-shop selling The Essential New York Times Cookbook, where attendees can buy their very own copy to be signed by author Amanda Hesser. There are only 120 tickets, so act quickly! $35. Proceeds to benefit CUESA’s Farmer Scholarship Fund. 21+ only!