December 7, 2010

December 7, 2010
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Bill Corbett; photo by Meigan Canfield.

With the departure of pastry chef Luis Villavelazquez from ~ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR~ and Arlequin Café, the new executive pastry chef is the talented Bill Corbett, who is coming over from Daniel Patterson’s Coi and Plum. He was formerly at MICHAEL MINA restaurant, and prior to that, was at wd~50 in New York as a pastry sous working with Sam Mason, as was also at Dona and Anthos. He begins at Absinthe on January 4th, and diners can expect to see seasonal ingredients like quince, butternut squash, and citrus in his creations. He plans to offer an approachable menu, but true to Corbett’s style, there will be some unexpected ingredients and flavor combinations.

Meanwhile, Deanie Hickox has been named executive pastry chef for Coi. And Luis Villavelazquez has a new stand at the Ferry Plaza farmers’ market on Thursdays and Saturdays, Les Elements. (You can read more details on SFoodie here.)

Boy, there are a lot of chef changes to report. You ready? The Inside Scoop reports executive chef Ed Carew is no longer at ~CAFÉ DES AMIS~, and that he’s considering opening his own place again. Based on the delicious inzimino di calamari stew he did for Howard Case’s annual holiday party this past weekend, I hope he sticks with Italian (that dish rocked).

More from Scoop: now that chef Amy Glaze is at Citizen Cake, ~CIRCA~ has hired Daniel Sudar, a former chef de cuisine at Betelnut, along with Redwood City’s Red Lantern and Door in Walnut Creek.

Now that Nick Balla is leaving ~NOMBE~ at the end of the year, owners Mari Takahashi and Gil Payne have hired Vincent Schofield (Darwin Café, Ebb & Flow) as his replacement. Looks like they are going to be sending Schofield to Japan for some recon before he starts.

Lastly, a tablehopper reader pointed me to a tweet, letting me know Greg Lutes is going to be the executive chef of the ~WATERFRONT RESTAURANT~. He was at the Groveland Hotel in Yosemite.

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I was curious about ~STRAW~, a new Twitter follower I got last week, and then SFoodie broke the story: it’s going to be a 30-seat restaurant opening in the former J’s Pots of Soul (and the subsequent and short-lived Soul). Partners Ari Feingold, chef Naomi Beck, and Greg Kaye are taking their inspiration from carnivals (something that 15 Romolo was doing with their late-night menu as well). Some dishes mentioned include “a chicken and waffle Monte Cristo (a sandwich, with waffles taking the place of bread), a Jenga stack of French toast, lavender-lemonade popsicles, and sangria slushees. (Beck is also co-owner of 3 Foods Café in Arcata.) La Copa Loca in the Mission has been enlisted to develop Straw’s corn-on-the-cob gelato.” Straw will be offering lunch, dinner, weekend brunch, and a happy hour. And in honor of the carnival them, they are offering quite the prize for whoever correctly guesses their opening date—check it out on their homepage. Step right up!

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Paul Madonna’s artwork at Tacolicious.

There aren’t many places in the Mission to get Mexican food and margaritas (and mezcal), but by next spring or summer, ~TACOLICIOUS~ will be opening a second location in the former New College building on Valencia Street. Chef Telmo Faria will be overseeing both locations. Highlights: an adjoining tequila and mezcal bar called Mosto, bicycle delivery service, and Mexico City-style al pastor tacos off a trompo (spit). Read all about it in the Inside Scoop here. 741 Valencia St. at 18th St.

More Mexicano: according to Eater, the group behind Beretta, Delarosa, and Starbelly (Deborah Blum, Ruggero Gadaldi, Adriano Paganini) are also launching a Mexican concept, including a tequila bar. The location and timing will be revealed soon (also mentioned: a second location of their burger place, Super Duper).

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Showplace owner Cat hard at work.

On a quiet stretch of Brannan in SoMa, there’s a new café that has opened called ~SHOWPLACE CAFFÈ~—it has opened in a previously vacant office area of The Showplace Motor Works. Owner Catherine Twardos, a resident of the neighborhood, was unhappy with the dearth of coffee places in the ‘hood, so she took matters into her own hands. She is now offering both espresso and manual drip bar service using Sightglass beans, and also does an awesome Vietnamese-style coffee with a Phin filter to order. She also mentioned pastries (and some seating) are coming soon. Current hours are Mon-Fri 7:30am-3:30pm for the winter, and weekend hours will be coming in the future. She’s excited to have Showplace be a go-to place for the neighborhood, where they can find a friendly face and a really good cup of coffee. 715 Brannan St. at 7th St.

A tweet from Blue Bottle alerted me to this recently opened café in Berkeley, ~CREMA~—it moved into the former Café Cacao space next to the Scharffen Berger factory. Husband and wife John and Nora Dunning (she’s the pastry chef) are offering breakfast and lunch during the week. You can also get espresso drinks off their Faema E61, and there’s a drip bar (they’re using their own private label coffee). There are quite a few tasty treats, like a chocolate croissant pudding, a chocolate and salted caramel tart, cupcakes, wedding cakes, cookies, and French macarons. In fact, through the end of the month, anyone who comes in and orders a coffee can have a free mini cupcake. A second location is slated to open in Alameda in late January or early February. Open Mon-Fri 7am-4pm. 2865 7th St. at Heinz, Berkeley, 510-848-7100.

And coming to SoMa (adjacent to AT&T Park) in early 2011 will be ~CAFFÈ PASCUCCI~, the first U.S. location for this Italian coffeehouse that dates back to the 1800s. The menu will include over 20 kinds of savory and sweet coffee beverages, dessert drinks, yogurt-based smoothies, and frozen-specialty options, including a drink made with espresso, hot foamed milk, gianduia, whipped cream, hazelnut crunch, and hazelnut spread. Whoa. Chad Newton (working with Frank Klein of FK Restaurants and Hospitality) will be consulting on breakfast pastries, pressed panini, and more. 170 King St. at 3rd St.

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Photo of the old interior from Rose Pistola (Facebook).

There are some changes afoot at North Beach’s ~ROSE PISTOLA~ over the next few months. Mark Gordon (Terzo, Rose’s Café) will be taking on the executive chef responsibilities (Rose Pistola, Rose’s Café, and Terzo are all in the Nice Ventures group). Gordon will be working with the current kitchen team, overseeing the menu, but not changing it just yet. Chef de cuisine Pablo Estrada (who has been there for the past several years) will continue his role, and will be in charge of the menu day to day, and all back-of-the-house operations.

The restaurant will also be closing on Monday January 31st for two weeks for a remodel with Cass Calder Smith, and some kitchen repair. When the restaurant reopens to the public on February 16th, there will be a slightly modified menu (keeping old favorites while allowing Gordon to put his stamp on Rose Pistola), and some new upholstery, carpet, updated lighting, and more. 532 Columbus Ave. at Green, 415-399-0499.

Some banh mi fans will be bummed to learn ~BAGUETTE EXPRESS~ on Larkin has toasted its last baguette and has closed, according to The Tenderblog. 668 Larkin St. at Ellis.

And after 25 years, ~VIDEO CAFE~ has gone the way of the Betamax, and has closed according to the Richmond Blog. I do hope whoever takes it over preserves the booths—that location is all kinds of awesome. 5700 Geary Blvd. at 21st Ave.

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Pâte de fruit photo by Anita Chu.

Even though the opening of pastry chef William Werner’s ~TELL TALE PRESERVE COMPANY~ on Maiden Lane won’t be happening until the spring, you’ll be able swing by Big Daddy Antiques in Potrero Hill for some of Werner’s sweet treats at his “Trunk Show.” Tell Tale will use the antiques and vintage furniture sold at the store to display their goods and provide seating and tables (pretty clever, I gotta say). The Trunk Show will offer drip coffee, pastries, preserves, and confections, and you’ll also be able to pick up the Tell Tale Society bags ($35), a mixed bag of their creations that would make one hell of a holiday gift. The December 2010 bag features: turrón of white chocolate, new crop walnut, and yuzu; vanilla- and Douglas fir-infused confiture au lait; roasted pumpkin, guanaja chocolate marshmallow; pain d’épices-laced caramels; quince, caramelized honey petit gâteau; and hazelnut, frankincense, and muscovado toffee.

Swing by for the open house this Thursday December 9th from 4pm-8pm for complimentary tastes and hot cider; regular hours will be Mon-Sat 9am-5pm through Christmas. 1550 17th St. at Wisconsin, 415-621-6800.

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This Friday December 10th, there’s an open casting call for Food Network’s 24 Hour Restaurant Battle, a competition reality series hosted by Scott Conant. Here’s more: “We are looking for charismatic and outgoing two-person teams with pre-existing relationships, who have always dreamed of running their own restaurant. Applicants may have lots of restaurant experience, no restaurant experience, or some combination of both. One member of the team will run the ‘back of the house’ and one member will run the ‘front of the house.’ As a team they must have the skills to open and run their own restaurant!” You can download the application and read more here. The casting is from 10am-1pm at The Westin San Francisco, 50 3rd St. at Mission.

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Halibut escabeche photo by Jun Belen.

Chili Montes, Bi-Rite’s head butcher and an incredible chef, is cooking quite the Filipino Feast for ~18 REASONS~ on Friday December 10th. He’s going to be cooking with The Attic chef Tim Luym (also of The WOW Truck). The five-course feast will include dishes like salmon belly in a sour broth, coconut squash curry, and pork belly with water spinach, and more—and it all comes paired with Filipino beers. $75 for 18 Reasons members; $85 for the general public. Buy tickets. 7pm-10pm.

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Local Mission Eatery dining room. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

A couple new “labs” are coming up with ~LOCAL MISSION EATERY~: first, Jesse Friedman of Beer and Nosh and Old Oak Beer is going to lead a Holiday Beer Tasting on Sunday December 12th. You will taste a selection of local, holiday beers, including Anchor Xmas Ale, He’Brew Jewbelation, Sierra Nevada Celebration, among others. There will be plenty of deliciousness for you to eat and drink—read more about the event here. 5pm-7pm; $40. Register here.

And then on Sunday December 19th, Socola Chocolatier co-founders (and Mission residents) Wendy and Susan Lieu will be hosting a hands-on Chocolate Truffle Lab. This lab will explore the art of making chocolate truffles: how to make the ganache, temper the chocolate, dip, and garnish them. Everyone takes home the skills to make chocolates (and a box of chocolates!). $50. Register here.

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Photo: © Liza Gershman 2010.

Um, yeah: two of my favorite things: oysters and Champagne. And since we’re talking about the ~COMSTOCK SALOON~, there’s a whole lot of other goodness that’s also going to be served on Tuesday December 14th. Jacquesson et Fils will be pouring their bubbles and Drake’s Bay Oyster Co. will shuck away during the reception, and then chef Carlo Espinas will be preparing a four-course oyster dinner. The menu includes oysters Victor Hugo (recipe from Hotel St. Francis, September 23rd, 1910); Hangtown salad, with escarole hearts, oyster vinaigrette, salt pork, egg, pickles; roasted guinea hen, with oyster and apple stuffing, turnips and their greens: followed by Époisses, pickled strawberries, honey, and walnut bread. The meal will also include intriguing discourse on the history of San Francisco’s infamous Barbary Coast, and the sunken ships still buried underground. $75 per person (tax and gratuity not included). To hold your reservation with a credit card, please call Aimee Santos at 415-617-0071 or email.