May 24, 2011

May 24, 2011
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Photo from Google.

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The bar at the Monk’s Kettle.

Big news about who is moving into the 740 Valencia Street space after the Town Hall partners decided to pass on it: the owners of the ~MONK’S KETTLE~, Christian Albertson and Nat Cutler, will be opening ~THE ABBOT’S CELLAR~, a craft beer-focused restaurant. They just signed the lease, and are aiming to open by the winter.

While the Monk’s Kettle is more of a neighborhood tavern, this 100-seat restaurant (with 60-70 seats in the dining room, and 35 seats at the bar and kitchen counter) will be higher-end, focusing on craft beer and food pairings. There will be a brick hearth, and the food menu will feature a daily changing menu of gourmet American and European fare with a strong emphasis on locally and sustainably sourced products. Pairings will be fine-tuned between chef Adam Dulye (who has been made a partner) and the directors of the beer program—look for frequent adjustments due to seasonal produce and the availability of specialty beers.

The beer selection will also be more tightly focused than at Monk’s Kettle, with an emphasis on food-friendly beers. There will be 24 taps, with beers kept at different temperatures, depending on the style (most domestic craft beers and lighter styles will be kept around 40 degrees, while Belgians, stouts, and higher-alcohol beers will be kept closer to 50 degrees). Two more drafts will be drawn from hand-pump cask engines, plus there will be over 100 selections on the bottle list, including vintage offerings from the cellar and flights.

The building, formerly an auto garage called John’s Jaguars, has been converted into three retail spaces. The 3,000-square-foot Abbot’s Cellar will occupy the center space, with exposed brick on several walls, 24-foot ceilings, floor-to-ceiling wooden beams and supporting trusses, and several skylights. Lundberg Design (Charles Phan’s favorite architect) will be overseeing architectural design. There will be a glass-enclosed beer cellar, and a tall back bar showcasing the many types of glassware used in the beer program.

One item of note in the meantime: over at the Monk’s Kettle, Jeff Segal of ~HEART~ wine bar (also in the Mission) is now doing their wine list. Look for an inventive wine list, with some “renegade picks” from Segal.

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Say farewell to the smoked risotto with uni.

Early yesterday afternoon I received a tip from a reader that the entire kitchen staff at Sausalito’s ~PLATE SHOP~, including chef Kim Alter, resigned at the end of Sunday service. I still haven’t heard back from Alter (the Inside Scoop reported on her departure, but not the entire BOH walk-out). My source pointed me to this blog post by one of the line cooks at Plate Shop, confirming the entire back of house walk-out. (The blog has since been taken down.) Seems there was a big split between the kitchen and some key front of house employees, management, and investors. Which means there’s suddenly a wave of culinary talent available—snap ‘em up, restaurant people.

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French partner Jean-Marie Gillet’s car.

Ti Couz may be sadly closed, but late this summer, you’ll be able to swing by downtown’s ~GALETTE 88~ for a variety of crêpes and savory galettes (as well as a few sweet ones). Partners in the venture are Erin Rooney (Slow Club, Serpentine) and Céline Guillou (formerly of Yield Wine Bar). Their 40-seat gourmet galette and crêpe place is opening at 88 Hardie Place, the little alley around the corner from Rickhouse. They took over a 20-year-old pasta place called Pasta Bene, and the remodel includes returning elements of the space to their original form.

Initially they will be serving lunch Mon-Fri, with flexibility for happy hours, private dining, and pop-up dinners in the evenings. The service will be counter-style, with a focused menu—but big enough to include seasonal toppings, organic ingredients, and vegan/vegetarian options. They are also applying for a beer and wine license so that they can serve the traditional cider. The concept is modeled after Céline’s favorite crêperie in Brittany, Le Vahine. The owner, Jean-Marie Gillet, is a partner, and he will be coming from France to oversee the opening. 88 Hardie Pl., off Kearny, between Bush and Sutter.

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Interior of Lung Shan/Mission Chinese Food.

You have one week to get your tingly lamb noodle soup, Westlake porridge, ma po tofu, and Szechuan pickle fix because ~MISSION CHINESE FOOD~ will be closed from June 1st-June 23rd (or thereabouts). The entire Lung Shan and Mission Chinese Food crew (dishwashers included) are going to China together, visiting the Lung Shan owners’ hometown (they haven’t been home in five years). I’m trying to coax chef Danny Bowien to write a trip recap for me when they return, fingers crossed. (I wish I could document the trip—it’s quite the unique story.)

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The “Beet Box” at DOSA on Fillmore; photo from Facebook.

Last week’s hearing went well for ~DOSA ON VALENCIA~, and after the 30-day appeals process is complete, they should have their liquor license to start serving some of their delicious cocktails. But first, they’re going to do a little facelift for the restaurant, closing the third week of June, and putting in new chandeliers, artwork, updating the floors and tables, putting on a fresh coat of paint, and expanding the back bar. There will also be some new menu items added. If all goes well, they expect to open at the end of June/beginning of July. I’ll keep you posted.

I received an update on ~BOTTLE CAP~, the upcoming restaurant opening in the former Washington Square Bar & Grill. It’s getting close: the place is currently being repainted, and the owners are gunning to open within the next three weeks (if they get all their sign-offs from the city). The chef de cuisine is Matt Sullivan from Blue Plate (he’ll still be there for a couple more weeks), but I should be able to share the menu in a week or so, stand by. Bottle Cap will be open Tue-Sun 11am-10pm, and later for the drinking crowd. 1707 Powell St. at Union.

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Interior photo by Daniel Azarkman.

And he’s back! Chef Mohamed Ghaleb gave me a call last week to tell me he will be moving back to Polk Street with his much-loved ~TAJINE~. He moved into the Indian Aroma space on Polk, and opened over the weekend. (This will be the fourth location for his Moroccan restaurant, and hopefully he’ll be able to sit tight.) I’m looking forward to his homey and affordable cooking again, namely his bastilla and merguez sausage couscous. The menu is slightly expanded, with a few more vegetarian options, and a new fish tajine. The place is halal, so no beer and wine is served, but true to Tajine’s previous locations, you can BYOB. Hours are Tue-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm, and for dinner, Tue-Thu and Sun 5pm-10pm, and Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm. 1653 Polk St. at Clay, 415-440-1718.

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Eleven O One interior photo by Daniel Azarkman.

On a tip-off from Grub Street, tablehopper intern Daniel Azarkman reports that Ike Aboubzou, owner of Bite on Sutter, is bringing a new late-night option to the Polk Street bar crowds: ~ELEVEN O ONE~, in the former space of Hank’s Eats. The menu includes many of the popular sandwiches, salads, and the rotisserie chicken from Bite, plus a solid list of fried foods and dressed-up hot dogs designed to soak up beer in your stomach. You can also enjoy their lounge-style seating with any of 30 beers, 6 of which are on tap.

The Tenderblog just posted more details on the newly opened spot, naming specific sandwiches like the “Love Affair” (chicken, havarti, honey mustard, BBQ honey), and the “Unholy Matrimony” (chicken, jalapeño poppers, pepperhouse sauce, ranch), and they describe plans to deliver “crowd-pleasing bar foods” to nearby bars, hence the late-night hours ‘til 2am. They also report that hyper-local artist Erin McAdams created the cool artwork featured in the space. Mon-Sun 11:30am-2am. 1101 Polk St. at Post, 415-567-1101.

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Photo of macarons from Chantal Guillon website.

Some random updates for you: first up, we have a name for the business Duncan Ley and Ben Bleiman (Tonic, Bullitt, Rebel) are opening in the ~BISSAP BAOBAB~ space on Mission: it will be called ~MAYHEM~, named after Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem band from The Muppets. Baobab is closing on June 1st, and will be moving into their location around the corner. Mayhem is slated to open the last week of June. 2323 Mission St. at 19th St.

Over in Hayes Valley, The Feast brings word that Paulette (the macaron shop) is now ~CHANTAL GUILLON~, “named after the Parisian manager of the store.” The space is currently closed for remodeling, and there’s no word yet about the reopening. The piece mentions her “macarons will now be made with organic ingredients and natural flavorings and colorings (and still gluten-free).” 437 Hayes St. at Gough, 415-864-2400.

Eater released news of a new ramen place called ~RAMEN DORAKU~, and SFoodie already went to check it out. 1042 Taraval St. at 20th Ave., 415-592-8801.

A reader wrote in to tell me that the owners of Toast are opening a coffee bar in Glen Park called ~CUP~ in June. You can read more in the Glen Park Association blog, which mentions Blue Bottle Coffee and pastries, and it will be open 6am-6pm. 6 Monterey Blvd. at Diamond.

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Easy Creole gumbo; photo from their website.

Grant Gooding and Jess McCarter could never find home-style Creole food in the Bay Area quite like it is in the Big Easy, that is, damn good and damn cheap. So they made their own: ~EASY CREOLE~ is starting a pop-up restaurant on Wednesday May 25th at The Residence (starts at 5pm, 718 14th St. at Church) and Friday May 27th at La Victoria Bakery (5pm-10pm, 2937 24th St. at Alabama) to serve up gumbo, étouffée, succotash, red beans and rice, and tasty vegan options too.

Eater has the menus here, and note, you don’t even have to BYOB. The Gooding-McCarter team will return to both places on a semi-permanent schedule once they get a feel for the demand. Additionally, they will eventually pop-up at Bissap Baobab (post-move), farmers’ markets, and food events around the Bay Area, and they have plans to start a lunch catering service.

Their signature dishes include vegan spinach and mushroom étouffée; chicken, sausage, and shrimp gumbo; and “Gumbo z’Herbes,” a traditional meatless dish enjoyed by Louisiana Catholics during Lent and on meat-free Fridays. They say they have the right balance of spicy and savory, and a secret twist that brings as much flavor to the vegan dishes as to the meaty stews. Keep up with Easy Creole on Facebook, Twitter, or join their mailing list.

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Eggplant parm from Uncle Dougie’s; photo from Yelp’s Anthony N.

~RUDY’S CAN’T FAIL CAFE~ of Emeryville (yes, the place where Green Day’s Mike Dirnt is a co-owner) is opening a second location in Oakland’s Uptown neighborhood in the beginning of June, just next door to the Fox Theater. A menu of classic American diner fare with seasonal and often locally sourced ingredients will be offered, plus fresh-baked fruit pies and cakes for dessert. There will also be weekend brunch service, and breakfast served all day. There’s a full bar, plus wine, beer, and a variety of specialty coffee drinks and shakes (including the Shakin’ Jesse Milkshake with Guinness stout, chocolate ice cream, and espresso). Got a big party? Book the 10-person private booth contained within a stainless steel dining car replica. There will also be a combination dinner-and-a-show package with a private VIP entrance leading straight into the Fox. Open daily 7am-1am. 1805 Telegraph Ave. at 18th St., Oakland, 510-251-9400.

Fan of Cuban cuisine? You may want to check out the Our Cuban Kitchen dinners popping up at the ~COCK-A-DOODLE CAFE~ in Old Town Oakland on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights from 5pm-9:30pm. I think the menu looks pretty dang tasty. 719 Washington St. at 8th St., Oakland, 510-465-5400.

And an export from Oakland into Berkeley will be a second location of ~UNCLE DOUGIE’S~, an East Coast/Italian hero shop, where my friend says, “Everyone who walks in there is an East Coaster, and just ordering off the menu brings out dormant Philly, Jersey, and New York inflections. Or Dougie coaxes them out.” Chicken parm, eggplant parm, sausage and peppers—it’s all on the menu. The second location will be opening in June at 2328 Bowditch at Durant, Berkeley, 510-705-1686.

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