February 1, 2011

February 1, 2011
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The back patio at the Phoenix.

Back in November 2010, Grub Street noted Sean and Isabel Manchester (the owners of Mighty, and previously of Wish in SoMa) were the new “principal operators for a new, as yet unnamed concept in the former Bambuddha Lounge space at the Phoenix Hotel.” The Manchesters will be working symbiotically with the hotel.

I have been waiting for them to finalize their chef before writing about the restaurant project, so hot off the news tree, here’s the chef announcement: it’s Trevor Ogden, currently the executive chef at Mission Beach Cafe (his last day will be February 12th, and his chef de cuisine, Ron Silverberg, will be taking over).

Since the space will be a hybrid of a lounge and restaurant, the menu will be flexible for folks who just want a cocktail and a few small plates, while those who would like a full meal in the dining room can do so. Ogden tells me the menu will have some New American flexibility, with a focus on local and sustainable ingredients, but not exclusively so. He also mentioned plating will be artistic and refined. He’s excited to work on such a unique project where he can start fresh and create something new.

So, let’s talk about the concept. Sean Manchester tells me they want to revive the location’s original roots as a rock ‘n’ roll destination (the Phoenix Hotel was hotelier Chip Conley/Joie de Vivre’s first property). They want the vibe to be irreverent and iconoclastic, with an eclectic style that’s a bit “stately rocker” (Sean said, “Imagine if Steven Tyler bought a historical mansion and moved in”). They are working with designer Charles Doell of Mister Important Design, known locally for his swank Gitane design, and who was part of the original Backflip design team. But don’t expect the back room’s round bar to be in there, ‘cause that baby is gone baby gone (the main room’s bar has also been moved)—and the concrete floors have also been ripped up (hello, new plumbing).

The new look will be eclectic, with 1970s contemporary barstools upholstered in a reptile fabric, Louis XIV-period reproduction settees with black-on-black cowhide, and a Jacobsen swan chair-inspired loveseat outfitted in plaid all mingling together. There will be lots of leather, and wood (including dark wood flooring), and a Carrara marble bar. One big showpiece in the back “party” room is the large wraparound banquette that’s like a huge 15’ x 15’ booth in rich chocolate leather and button-back tufting in a Chesterfield pattern, with room for 30-40 people. The entire outdoor pool area and patio are also being renovated (as you can see in the pic). Concreteworks will be doing a fire and water feature, and there will be all new furniture, making the place a perfect location for weddings and fashion shows.

They will start with dinner nightly, closed Mondays. There’s discussion of an eventual poolside brunch on Sundays, with live music and/or gospel. The music format during the week will focus on rock, from classic, to current, to indie, so DJs will need to dig a little deeper in their crates if they’re going to be spinning there. While the name is still being finalized, they are aiming for an April 15th soft opening. Get ready to rock. 601 Eddy St. at Larkin.

After the departure of executive chef Ben Cohn at ~SPRUCE~, they are bringing on a new chef de cuisine, Walter Abrams, who hails from The French Laundry. His official start date is in April.

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Photo by Daniel Azarkman.

Now open in the former Burger Joint space is ~PALMYRA~ (they opened on Wednesday January 26th). The owner is from Syria, and offers a menu of falafel, shawarma, hummus plates, with the addition of rotisserie chicken, espresso, and a morning breakfast menu. Most of it is pretty inexpensive. For now they are open daily 7am-9pm, with hours subject to change. 700 Haight St. at Pierce, 415-896-4172.

Grub Street notes that ~SHABU PUB~ is opening in the former Mazu space in the Inner Richmond. The dinner menu includes American style-kobe beef shabu shabu (regular $13.99, large $16.99), which comes with assorted vegetables, udon, rice, and ice cream. According to the website (with animation galore), it will be open daily 11am-2am. 3809 Geary Blvd. at 2nd Ave., 415-668-9688.

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Photo by Daniel Azarkman.

A while back, Tasting Table tweeted that La Oaxaqueña was opening a sister restaurant down the road. Well, it’s open, and it’s called ~PAPI’S FUSION DELI~. My intern reports: “Their aim is to serve ‘global cuisine,’ but the menu reads like diluted Mexican. They’ve got tortas, tamales, and burritos, plus American-corner-store-style sandwiches, and a couple of Asian-influenced salads. They also make a few tropical smoothies called licuados, with a couple of unique flavors like plantain and mamey (kind of like papaya), and Mexican hot chocolate with chile, ginger, and soy milk options. The tamales seem like the bedrock of the menu, and both the corn-husk and banana-leaf styles are available. One unusual offering is a banana-leaf tamal filled with collard greens and ‘soy meat’ (I’m guessing Soyrizo?).” A Chowhound report mentions “a deli case of French smoked herring, wood-smoked trout, couscous, guacamole, and other stuff. They might have some of the same pastries from La Oaxaqueña behind the deli case.” Open Sun-Thu 11am-10pm, and Fri-Sat until 2:30am. You too can embrace the fusion at 2348 Mission St. at 19th St.

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Bar Agricole, designed by Aidlin Darling. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Starting this Sunday February 6th (yes, Super Bowl Sunday), ~BAR AGRICOLE~ is launching brunch service (and you can make reservations). On the menu: dishes like buckwheat beignets with brandied prunes and Chantilly; slow-cooked oats with mascarpone, dates, and hazelnuts; two fried eggs with cardoons, leeks, and bagna cauda; and corned beef cheeks, potato hash, poached egg, and mustard hollandaise. Sun 11am-2pm.

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Peking duck scones; photo by DeLise.

Chinese New Year is this Thursday February 3rd, and Dennis and Eloise Leung of ~DELISE~ are making their famous Peking duck scones to celebrate. The scone is made with roasted duck, both skin and meat, plus green onion and hoisin. After they hand pick the meat from the duck, they use the bones to infuse the cream, which goes into the scone. They then make a hoisin glaze, and add a sprinkle of sesame seeds on top. I know, WHOA. They are also making a mandarin orange/pomelo bar, which both symbolize wealth and fortune—it’s basically a twist on the classic lemon bar. And they are also making a “sesame ball” French macaron filled with red bean (the sesame ball is a traditional dessert for Chinese New Year because its golden color resembles gold coins). The specials start this Thursday. 327 Bay St. at Powell, 415-399-9694.

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Photo from Coffee Bar.

It’s no secret that Lauren Kiino of ~IL CANE ROSSO~ is a wicked-good chef. And this Friday February 4th, you’ll be able to have a wicked-affordable dinner at ~COFFEE BAR~: three courses for $35 (with two choices in each course, including a vegetarian option). You can check out the menu here, which includes courses like rutabaga soup and spit-roasted pork. Coffee Bar will also be doing wine pairings for $15. There are three seatings: 6pm, 7:30pm, and 9pm. Here is the link with the reservation details. There will be a second dinner on Friday February 25th. 1890 Bryant St. (corner of Florida and Mariposa), 415-551-8100.

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Fall treats from Thomas Farm; photo from CUESA.

You like delicata squash? Well, you might get a coupon for a free one (grown by Everything Under the Sun) if you get to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market early enough this coming Thursday. Beginning at 10am on Tuesdays and Thursdays, The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA) will be offering a coupon redeemable for a free and fresh farmers market treat to the first 50 people who swing by the market’s information booth to claim it.

Featured items change with each giveaway and will be announced via CUESA’s Twitter feed and Facebook page. One coupon per customer, yo.

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The Underground Market. Flickr photo from kewzoo.

This Saturday February 5th marks the return of the ~FORAGESF UNDERGROUND MARKET~, which is back at SomArts (934 Brannan St. at 8th St.); from 11am-4pm, you can purchase take-homeables (and there will be accordion players!), while 6pm-2am will bring drinks and hot food. $5 entry fee. You can view all the details and vendor lineup here.

This Saturday also brings another installment of the ~NEW TASTE MARKETPLACE~ (um, I wish these two could get on different schedules). Many favorite vendors will be returning, plus new vendors such as Jamaican Flavors, serving up Jamaican curried goat with rice. Yes, mon! And with the nice weather, the outdoor patio should come in handy. As a reminder, this event is a fundraiser for The Food Pantry. 4pm-9pm. St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church: 500 De Haro St. at Mariposa.

And then on Sunday February 13th is the ~HOMEGROWN MARIN MARKET~, featuring sellers who are cooks from around the Bay Area. 11am-5pm. To attend this event you must be a member of the Homegrown Marin Market. Save time at the door and sign up on the website. $1 off admission with membership coupon. Marin Fencing Academy, 827 4th St., San Rafael.

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This Saturday February 5th, SF Food Not Bombs is hosting a fundraising dinner in order to purchase reusable plates and utensils for their Thursday Food Sharing events. The five-course dinner is being sold at a $10-$30 sliding scale (you get a free drink with donations over $10). You can see the menu online here. 3030 B 16th St., “Station 40.″

Yup, it’s American Heart Month. On Tuesday February 8th, a number of San Francisco restaurants are participating in the Institute on Aging’s Dinner à la Heart. Restaurants will hold tables for Dinner à la Heart, and diners reserve these tables (through the Dinner à la Heart Hotline)—proceeds from the meal price ultimately act as a donation. Some restaurants offer dinner for $60 per person, like Le P’tit Laurent, while others like Gary Danko go up to $175 per person—you can see the list of participating restaurants here. Call the Dinner à la Heart Hotline to reserve a table (415-750-3443) or make reservations online.

More hearts: San Francisco General Hospital Foundation’s second annual Hearts After Dark is on Thursday February 10th from 7pm-10pm. The event is on Union Square, and will feature cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and live music. Tickets here.

On Thursday February 17th, there will be a wine tasting fundraiser at ~ORSON~ to benefit Mali Kalanso, a 100% volunteer-run, non-profit project providing education to children in Mali. The event will feature small production artisan wines—also available via silent auction and for purchase—with all proceeds going to Mali Kalanso. There will be hors d’oeuvres served as well. 6pm-8pm. Entrance: $50 prior (tickets here), $60 at the door. 508 4th St. at Bryant.

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The Disco Volante crew (photo from Facebook).

According to Scoop, chef Edward Higgins—currently the chef at the Four Seasons Palo Alto, and previously from New York (formerly at Insieme, Hearth, and Craft)—is going to be opening ~BAIA~ in Oakland. “It’s going to be a small, intimate restaurant specializing in modern Italian cuisine” with a “big focus on fish cookery.” He plans to open the 25-seat space (which includes 13 at a counter) in October or so. 465 9th St. at Broadway, Oakland.

Also reported: Rich and Rebekah Wood, of Oakland’s ~WOOD TAVERN~, have a sandwich shop called ~SOUTHIE~ that opens today. On the menu: “six or so sandwiches (pulled pork, crab roll, etc.), under $10; there will also be soups and salads, rotating daily and available for takeout.” Hours will be Mon-Sat 11am-9pm, Sun 11am-4pm. 6311 College Ave. at 63rd, Oakland.

~DISCO VOLANTE~ in Oakland is launching dinner service and live entertainment on Wednesday February 2nd. Executive chef Douglas Bernstein’s recent positions include executive chef at Bacar, Eccolo in Berkeley, and Farallon. Dinner specials (with a prix-fixe option) on the California cuisine-inspired menu will be available from 6pm-10pm. The restaurant opens at 11:30am during the week and 6pm on weekends, and will serve both food and drink until midnight during the week and until 1:30am weekend nights. 347 14th Street at Webster.

A tablehopper reader let me know that ~CHA-YA~ has completed its expansion in its Berkeley location. He writes, “A few seats disappeared from the old part, so in total the expansion added about two dozen new seats.” 1686 Shattuck Ave. at Lincoln, Berkeley, 510-981-1213.