April 12, 2011

April 12, 2011

Photo from Google.

Last month, I was following up on a rumor I had heard about the Town Hall/Anchor & Hope/Salt House gang opening a ~UNIQUE WINE-FOCUSED RESTAURANT~ in the former auto repair garage at 740 Valencia Street in the Mission. Partner Doug Washington was having me keep the news under my hat for a week, and then, of course, the news floodgates broke elsewhere. But in the end, sadly, Washington and brothers Mitchell and Steven Rosenthal have decided to step away from the project. In a phone call, Washington said, “It’s an amazing landlord, and a deal in a smokin’ neighborhood, but we weren’t ready to open another full-blown restaurant in San Francisco. We all have lives, kids, families… and all three of us came to the conclusion not to proceed.” I guess we’ll have to wait and see who snaps this sweet location up. 740 Valencia St. at 18th St.


Flickr photo from Thomas Hawk.

Plenty of folks in the city have been wondering when and where they were going to be able to get their next Joe’s Special, and the answer is: North Beach in October. Rumors I heard a while back proved to be true: ~ORIGINAL JOE’S~ will be moving into the Joe DiMaggio’s space on Washington Square Park, which was previously the location for Fior d’Italia for 50 years. (Wow, that makes three new businesses coming to the Square: the Marlowe ladies with Park Tavern, and Bottle Cap in the old Washbag.)

While it’s a shame the fire-ravaged location at 144 Taylor Street won’t reopen (it featured the city’s longest-running mesquite broiler, mind you), the new location will certainly draw more diners. (I’m not even gonna go into the details of what happened to me on Taylor Street the last time I dined at OJ’s—a Tenderloin groping, which is really, truly way up there on the wrong scale.) The fire was back in October 2007—crazy, it’s been a long time—and the Scoop reports the Duggan family hopes to reopen on the anniversary of the fire: October 12th, to be exact. And yes, the beloved booths will reportedly be reupholstered and brought over. Also mentioned: “an exhibition kitchen line—that Original Joe’s signature—will be built.” Congrats to the Duggan family for finding a new home for OJ’s. 601 Union St. at Stockton.


Bar at Hecho. Photo by Naseema Khan.

While I was taking my week off from writing tablehopper, Joseph Manzare’s ~HECHO~ opened last week in the former Midi space. The concept is Japanese, based around edomai sushi (authentic Tokyo Bay-style sushi) and robata (grilled) dishes. Menu items include a variety of small plates, yakimono (most are $3-$4 per skewer), and a nice selection of nigiri that you can order one at a time (so don’t think those prices include two). You can check out the soft opening menu here. The executive chef is Masaki Sasaki, most recently (and very briefly) at 2G Japanese Brasserie—he has also worked at Kantaro, Sebo, and the St. Regis.

The other hook: tequila. Yup, primarily small-batch tequilas, which you can drink neat, or in a cocktail. General manager Jon Shikuma (from Mori Sushi in LA) has selected a variety of sakes for those who don’t want to go there, including some “one cup” sakes in a can. Uli Zinnkann of Zack/de Vito designed the two-level, 120-seat space, featuring a tequila elm bar, and a 10-seat cypress sushi bar on the street level (plus an in-kitchen sushi bar that seats 6). Upstairs, there’s a dining room that includes a 16-seat communal table, and a private room. Breakfast served Mon-Fri 7am-10:30am, lunch 10:30am-2pm, dinner Mon-Wed 5pm-10pm and Thu-Sat 5pm-12am, closed Sunday evenings. Weekend brunch is Sat-Sun 7am-1pm. 185 Sutter St. at Kearny, 415-835-6400.

I had heard ~BUSHI-TEI~ had a new executive chef, and the Scoop confirms it’s Michael Hung, most recently the chef de cuisine at Jardinière. I look forward to seeing what he brings to the menu. 1638 Post St. at Laguna, 415-440-4959.

I also heard that chef de cuisine Walter Abrams has started in the kitchen at ~SPRUCE~; he was most recently a sous chef at The French Laundry.

Over at ~LARKCREEKSTEAK~, Ismael Macias has been promoted to chef, after working with the Lark Creek Restaurant Group for more than 12 years (he started as dishwasher at One Market Restaurant).


Trace rendering: Stanley Saitowitz.

On Sunday April 10th, W San Francisco’s ~XYZ~ restaurant closed, and will be reopening as Trace after an extensive renovation by architect Stanley Saitowitz (Conduit). Executive chef Paul Piscopo is staying on, and will be joined by newly appointed forager Alaun Grimald (is forager going to be the new “hot job” of 2011?). No set ETA at this time, so let’s just say later this year, shall we? Guests can still order off the dining menu and get their drink on in the W Café on the first floor.

Another Sunday closure was ~LONG BAR~ on Fillmore, which will be undergoing a light renovation this month. Reza Esmaili and chef Erik Hopfinger will be reopening the place later this month with a new name and menu—details to be revealed soon. 2298 Fillmore St. at Clay, 415-440-1700.


Photos from Coffee Bar.

Financial District workers will be jazzed to know that ~COFFEE BAR~ in the Mission is going to be opening a second location: and it’s downtown! You’ll be able to get Mr. Espresso coffee—either an espresso off of San Francisco’s first Strada espresso machine from La Marzocco, or a cup from the dedicated “slow bar”—along with pastries by Pâtisserie Philippe and Tell Tale Preserve Co., and grab-and-go items, including Anthony’s Cookies. They hope to open in three months, and will be open Mon-Fri. 101 Montgomery St. at Sutter.


Photo courtesy of Zaré at Fly Trap.

After an unfortunate health scare, Hoss Zaré, the chef and owner of ~ZARÉ AT FLY TRAP~, has been significantly turning things around in his diet (guess who has lost 50 pounds?). And opening Wednesday April 13th is his new healthy and casual lunch offering, Zaré’s Grill and Grain. It will be counter service, but diners will be able to dine in the restaurant or order the food to go. The menu includes hearty Persian soups, like ash reshteh ($8), a traditional spinach and noodle soup; a variety of wraps, like low-fat ground lamb ($11) with braised cipolline onions, barrel-aged feta, fresh mint, basil, and tarragon; and grains with greens and healthy salads, like one with French lentils ($12), grilled salmon, fennel, roasted bell peppers, lemon thyme, freshly shaved turmeric, braised endive, balsamic vinaigrette, and salsa verde (sounds amazing). Lunch will be served Mon-Fri 11am-2pm.


Photo of Mission Cheese by Jeannie Choe for The Feast.

Good news for Missionites: Sarah Dvorak is opening her business ~MISSION CHEESE~ this Wednesday April 13th. Take a look at that counter, because that’s where you’ll be able to sit for a variety of cheese plates (featuring domestic and foreign fromages), pressed sandwiches, charcuterie, and an ice cold beer (or glass of wine) once the beer and wine license kicks in. The Feast also mentions “a mac and cheese du jour…and rich, melty Raclette presented simply with roasted garlic potatoes and cornichons.” There will also be a large selection of cheeses for you to take home. It’s a tiny spot, with 20 seats, plus some outdoor tables. Take a look at this slideshow on The Feast for some great images (warning: don’t be hungry). As previously mentioned, Dvorak worked the garde manger station at Jardinière, and has traveled all over the U.S. in search of wonderful cheeses. Hours will be 11am-8pm. 736 Valencia St. at 18th St., 415-553-8667.


Photo of the new setup by Daniel Azarkman.

Lines are forming once again outside of ~SAIGON SANDWICH~, which closed its doors for the past month to make some renovations. Without that cluttered deli case, they now have roughly twice the kitchen space, and a much clearer (and cleaner) focus on putting a sandwich in your hand. Shiny new equipment includes a hand-washing sink, a slicing machine, a steam table, and a cold prep station. While the non-sandwich offerings have slimmed down quite a bit, they’re still selling some Vietnamese sweets from Hung Phat Bakery on Jones Street. Mon-Sat 6am-6pm, Sun 7am-5pm. 560 Larkin St. at Eddy, 415-474-5698.


Flickr photo by Steve Rhodes.

There are a number of changes in the Castro restaurant landscape: a tablehopper reader noted a liquor license transfer in the window of ~CAPRI RISTORANTE PIZZA~ (aka the place where I always try to use the bathroom during Pink Saturday). My intern reported back that Capri is going to be open for another three to four months, or 120 days from when the new owners applied for their license. The current owner couldn’t tell us much about the new concept, other than that it’s going to be Cal-Spanish cuisine (which is to be determined). Grub Street confirms the new owners are “Francisco Cifuentes and chef Mat Schuster, who’s been food and beverage manager at Crissy Field’s Warming Hut and Café for the last couple of years.” Stand by! 2272 Market St. at 16th St., 415-552-3000.

Another old-timer change: ~BAGDAD CAFÉ~ has new owners, according to the Scoop. The former 24-hour restaurant should be reopening in May—although there’s currently no word on the new concept, and most importantly, the hours. 2295 Market St. at Noe.

Eater noted that ~FUZIO~ has closed—seems their lease was up, and they didn’t want to renew. 469 Castro St. at 18th St.

Lastly, the Noe Valley SF blog reported that ~TAMASEI SUSHI~ is closing, and they’re doing a sidewalk sale of their plates and sake cups on Saturday April 16th. 3856 24th St. at Vicksburg.


Photo by Bruce Damonte.

I just booked another flight to New York in June (a dear friend is getting married), woo hoo. I’m excited that I’m flying on Virgin America, not only because I can get my work done (hello, Wi-Fi) and travel in a civilized fashion, but I’ll also be able to check out the newly renovated ~T2 (TERMINAL 2)~ at SFO. Originally built in 1954, T2 will reopen to the public this Thursday April 14th after a $383 million renovation by Turner Construction and Gensler; it will be home to American Airlines and Virgin America.

The local food marketplace includes Napa Farms Market (featuring Equator Coffee, Three Twins Ice Cream, Acme Bread, Cowgirl Creamery Cheese, and more), along with Tyler Florence’s Rotisserie of Napa, and Vino Volo wine bar. There will also be Lark Creek Grill, Cat Cora (tapas and cocktails), Andalé, Burger Joint, The Plant Café Organic, Pinkberry, Wakaba (a sister to Sanraku Sushi & Noodle restaurants), Peet’s Coffee, and, of course, a Starbucks. You can take a peek at images from a preview tour here (courtesy of the Bunrabs!).

The gourmet Blue Fog Market at California and Divisadero may have closed, but the new specialty market taking its place, ~CAL-DIVIS MARKET, DELI, AND WINE MERCHANT~, will keep the artisan vibe alive. Jerad Ruhl, previously at Ottimista-Enoteca Café, and his wife are behind the latest incarnation. Blue Bottle Coffee will continue to be sold, along with pastries and treats made by Mission Beach Cafe, plus craft beverages, beer, small production wines, and artisan spirits for retail sale. Future plans include housemade soups, sandwiches, in-house pickling and curing projects (like cured salmon and salumi), locally sourced cheeses, breads, and local products. They’re starting slowly right now, so just expect coffee and limited retail purchases for now. Open daily 8am-8pm. 2794 California St. at Divisadero, 415-440-1295.

I was sorry to read the news in the Scoop that ~A.G. FERRARI FOODS~ has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. According to a post on their Facebook page, a few stores will be closing soon, but none were named. Update: Grub Street reports “A rep from A.G. Ferrari writes in to say that despite the bankruptcy and the possibility of more store closures, none of the S.F. stores will be closing.”


The bar at Masa’s.

This column is turning into a beast, so I’m gonna keep this entry short: chef Gregory Short of ~MASA’S~ is offering a new tapas menu on Fridays at the Masa’s Bar from 5:30pm-9:30pm. Items include Ibérico ham croquettes ($9), saucisson d’homard ($12), a scallop mousseline with Maine lobster, housemade choucroute, and pickled vegetables. Seating is very limited: there are just four seats. (Which is why it’s one of my favorite little sneaky bars.)

~CAFÉ DES AMIS~ is now running a “Le Temps Entre” happy hour promotion, which includes $1 oysters, a $5 Moscow Mule, a glass of wine ($5 Kuentz-Bas Pinot Blanc), and a beer ($5 Trumer Pilsner). The menu is subject to change, but will always include oysters, a cocktail, a glass of wine, and a beer for the prices listed above. Mon-Fri 3pm-6pm.

~OZUMO SAN FRANCISCO~ has launched a Sundays-only prix-fixe menu option. For $45, diners get four courses; the debut menu includes a choice of tuna tataki salad, shira-ae (roasted Chiogga beets and nama yuba tofu), or miso soup; a sushi course; and main course options like burikama (roasted yellowtail collar) or Jidori chicken; plus dessert. Begins at 5:30pm. There will also be wine and sake specials. 


Americano photo by Cesar Rubio.

I sometimes wish I could clone myself, because then I could attend this cool dinner to be hosted by chef Kory Stewart of ~AMERICANO~ Restaurant at Hotel Vitale. The event is on Sunday April 17th, and guest chef Michael Tuohy of Grange Restaurant and forager and author Connie Green of Wine Forest Wild Foods will both be in the house.

The five-course Sunday supper will include dishes featuring wild ingredients, like yellowtail crudo with oxalis, sauvignon blanc agrodolce, radish, sea beans, and spruce tip oil; nasturtium tagliatelle with morels, slow-cooked egg, guanciale, and wild mushroom brodetto; lightly cooked California king salmon with wild fennel salsa verde, spring vegetables, and ramps; and roasted Paine Farms squab with ramp and squab confit hash cake, braised wild mustard, and elderberry jus. $65; $90 with wine and cocktails paired with each course. Reservations are required: 415-278-3777. 5pm: cocktails and antipasti on the patio (weather permitting); 5:45pm: dinner (communal seating).

I received an invite to meet Rob Black, the new executive director for the Golden Gate Restaurant Association (GGRA), and was wondering where Kevin Westlye was off to (he held the position for the past seven years). Ends up he is working as president of High Flying Foods (behind Firewood Grills, Firewood Cafés, and many Peet’s Coffee & Tea locations), which focuses mainly on airports. Westlye will continue to lead SFChefs 2011 (which he launched), and has re-joined the Board of Directors of the GGRA.

Rob Black has served as vice president for Public Policy with the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce for the past four years, and prior to that, he served as legislative aide to then supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier. Rob currently chairs the city’s Workforce Investment San Francisco Board (WISF), overseeing federal workforce training expenditures.


Photo from Yummy Stuff.

A verrrrry long time ago, Eater reported an innovative allergen-aware dessert place, ~YUMMY STUFF~, was coming to the Inner Richmond.

It’s been slow going, but the owners are aiming to open for business on Thursday May 12th in a small space on Arguello and Golden Gate. They’ll be offering soft-serve, gelato, Italian ices, and baked goods, all with guaranteed dairy-, egg-, gluten-, and nut-free options. They need some help in reaching their goal, though, and have come up with a novel way of letting future customers show support. Through their website, you can make a shrewd investment in your dessert-eating habits by giving Yummy Stuff a cash advance. Used wisely, your contribution can amount to a huge discount in that it gets you a free pass to enjoy their products for a specified period. And you can wear the free t-shirt for as long as you want. Let’s see if they make it happen… 746 Arguello Blvd. at Golden Gate.


I’m always happy to hear of “food truck to brick and mortar” success stories. And here’s a good one: the fine folks behind the ~CURRY UP NOW~ trucks, Akash and Rana Kapoor, are opening a 49-seat location in downtown San Mateo (previously Dalia Tapas, and prior to that, Gator’s Neo Soul Cafe). The soft opening is this Friday April 15th, with a grand opening on Saturday the 16th.

The menu will be the same as the trucks: tikka masala burritos, a kathi roll, and deconstructed samosas and aloo tikki, with some additions, like sandwiches, their spin on a quesadilla, and their “un-burger” made with lamb. The weekends are when they’ll reportedly “go crazy,” with all kinds of street food dishes with a twist, like puri and pav bhaji. Opening hours are 11am-9pm, and possibly until 10pm Thu-Sat; weekend hours will be starting earlier since they will be offering breakfast. Beer and wine will also be coming in a few months. 129 South B St. at 1st St., 650-477-3000.