September 27, 2011

September 27, 2011
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Photo by Todd Parsons via Prospect’s Facebook page.

Wow, this was some news I did not expect to come home to: after 10 years with the Boulevard (and Prospect) team, Inside Scoop reports chef Ravi Kapur has decided to leave Prospect. The reason: he and his wife have a new five-month-old son, and he wants to be able to spend more time with them. He tells the Scoop, “Career-wise, it’s the toughest decision I’ve had to make. For the last 14 years, the most important things to me have been cooking and being in restaurants, a nonstop striving to be the best at my craft. With the birth of my son … I did not think it would hit me as hard as it did.”

Chef-partner Pam Mazzola will be collaborating with chef-partner Nancy Oakes on leading the helm (they knew about his departure for a while). Grub Street further fills in with this: “Hiring a replacement for Kapur may still be in the cards, but Mazzola will stay at the helm for the time being, and the team will likely just promote someone from within, just as they did with Kapur.” Meanwhile, Kapur is all about being at home with the fam. Knowing how excited Kapur was to open Prospect, and all the effort and long hours he put into opening the restaurant with the team, I can only imagine how hard it was to decide to step away—especially when looking at all the success and momentum the restaurant has been gaining. But little babies grow up very quickly, and you can’t get that time back. Best wishes to him for some very fulfilling family time.

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Citizen Cake’s exterior. Photo by Rebecca Kinney. © tablehopper.com.

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The Macaron Magic sundae. Photo by Rebecca Kinney.

Last month, Inside Scoop broke the news that Elizabeth Falkner was changing things up at ~CITIZEN CAKE~ on Fillmore. First off, she has changed the name to Elizabeth Falkner’s Citizen Cake, Ice Cream Parlor & Eats. The menu is more casual and comforting, with dishes like shrimp cocktail, tomato soup, and Chinese chicken salad to start, and sandwiches like grilled cheese (with five!), a burger with bacon ground into the beef, and a fried chicken Cobb sandwich. For dinner, there are homey faves like roast chicken, spaghetti and meatballs, and spareribs, plus nightly specials like pot roast on Wednesdays (good to know with our upcoming chilly weather). Falkner has also hired Allison Harvey (previously at Ragazza) to helm the kitchen. Here’s the latest copy of the menu, which you can check out here (be forewarned, it’s a big PDF). With one look, you can see things are meant to be more fun and lighthearted.

As for the sweet side of the menu, while the fab pâtisserie counter will remain with all the signature and couture cakes, cookies, cupcakes, and bars, look for a bunch of new cleverly crafted sundaes, like an already popular one made with grilled sourdough ice cream; plus Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge sauce, salted Spanish peanuts, Espelette chile, and whipped cream; and Macaron Magic, with strawberry ice cream and edible glitter (little girls and drag queens will both love that one). I’m really happy to see a date shake on the menu (don’t have to wait for my next Palm Springs trip!), and now that all the equipment is in, Falkner was finally able to launch her line of liquid-nitrogen ice cream. The hours and menu make it easy to swing by for a late lunch or sweet tooth attack, so pay a visit soon.

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Flickr photo from Rick Audet.

A tipster in the Lower Haight alerted me that a former Beretta employee snagged the long-vacant RNM space, and Haighteration confirms the gossip: Jay Bordeleau (Beretta, Nectar, Bacar, Mecca) and David Kurtz (Michael Mina, Coi, Saison, Gary Danko) will be opening ~MAVEN~ before the end of the year. Maven’s Facebook page mentions “a paired menu, which couples creative cocktails, eclectic wines and international beers with choice culinary selections.” Inside Scoop chats with the guys, revealing the menu will be Contemporary California in style, about 10 smaller-portioned items designed to pair with cocktails (and more). They won’t be making significant renovations to the space, so it will hopefully come together quickly. Next: we’ll need to learn who their chef is, among other highlights. Looking forward to seeing this one take shape.

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Canela interior; photo by J. Barmann/Grub Street.

I was happy to receive a note from the owners of ~CANELA~ that they have opened their doors. You can read all about this Spanish-style restaurant in my previous report, and Grub Street even has a slideshow of the renovation—they did a nice job. 2272 Market St. at 16th St., 415-552-3000.

Meanwhile, Inside Scoop reports stalwart ~2223 RESTAURANT~ has been sold to new owners, and is morphing into Jake’s on Market. New owners Tim Travelstead and Brad Becker expect the transition to happen after the holidays, and will be keeping the neighborhood-friendly vibe. Some slight tweaks: they will be offering “a broader selection of American contemporary cuisine (burgers, nightly specials, etc.) at a more accessible price point. They plan to be open for lunch, dinner and late night service. And of course, weekend brunch. There will still be a full bar.” Jim Maxwell of Architects II is behind the redesign. Amazing to think “no name” has been open since 1995, the year after I moved to San Francisco. I had many martinis at that bar in my twenties, and I always loved the cheerful staff—here’s hoping many of them stay on. 2223 Market St. at Sanchez, 415-431-0692.

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Photo by Helene Goupil for Mission Local.

Lots going on on Valencia (isn’t there always?). First up, there’s been a change of concept for Dylan MacNiven of Woodhouse Fish Co.’s project slated to open in the former Bombay Bazar and Ice Creamery location. Instead of Mohave, which was his Southwestern concept, it seems neighbor Puerto Alegre wasn’t too thrilled, so the latest is ~WEST OF PECOS~, serving rustic American fare, according to Mission Local. The opening should be about six months out or so, according to MacNiven. Stand by for more details soon. 548 Valencia St. at 17th St.

I’ve been keeping my eye on the slow-going construction at ~LA RONDALLA~ for a long time, and finally some details emerge about what the hell has been going on in there. According to Mission Local, the daughters of the original owner, Carlos Barrios, are going to be running the place after renovations are complete (they hit some snags with their previous contractor, hence the lack of any construction activity for a while). The sisters are hoping to reopen by the end of the year, and “will feature traditional Mexican cuisine in a Hacienda-like atmosphere. They will keep the popular margaritas, but they also want to modernize the menu a little. … The daughters hope that Mario Hernandez who has been a cook at the family restaurant for more than 20 years, will come back and work with them but Luna [one of the daughters] said she hasn’t asked him yet.” 901 Valencia St. at 20th St.

And over at the former Parea Wine Bar, new ownership is morphing it into ~ETCETERA WINE BAR~, which should be opening soon. The owner wasn’t very forthcoming with details when my intern went by a couple months ago (all we learned was there will also be small plates and coffee), so we’ll just have to wait and see until I have a chance to connect with the owner. 795 Valencia St. at 19th St.

More wine: B³ (Burgers, Bottles, Bites) is now ~WINEMAKERS’ SPEAKEASY~, according to Grub Street. The status: “one of the original partners is helping to reopen it as a wine-tasting facility that will double as a pop-up venue for chefs.” Grub Street mentions the wines will be from small producers, and the burgers will be no more, replaced with some “wine-friendly appetizers, a meat plate, and the like.” Check the website for calendar updates and more. 1152 Valencia St. at 22nd St., 415-401-7258.

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The counter at Bar Jules. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Lots happening in Hayes Valley: first up, ~BAR JULES~ is now open at 5:30pm, which should make many opera, symphony, and ballet-goers happy since they’ll be able to make their 7:30pm shows now.

FYI, ~SEBO~ is now closed on Sundays, due to a variety of reasons. It might not be permanent—they’re just making adjustments, so stand by.

Starting on Sunday October 9th, ~NOJO~ will be open for Sunday brunch from 11am-2:30pm. The menu will feature new dishes, like chicken ramen topped with grilled confit chicken, chopped negi, and a farm egg; homemade spam with a fried egg and nori over steamed rice; a crispy tonkatsu sandwich with shredded lettuce; as well as a traditional Japanese breakfast. The menu should be posted on their website soon.

And taking over the Allegro space (just across from Absinthe) will be ~DOBBS FERRY~ from chef Mike Yakura (corporate executive chef of Ozumo), Scott Broccoli (Aces, The Pub), and Danny Sterling (Ozumo). Inside Scoop reports it will be “a California bistro with East Coast sentiments” (ends up Broccoli and Sterling both come from Westchester County in New York—Dobbs Ferry is a town in the county). The main space will feature a bar and lounge with full liquor and a 40-seat dining room. For those who know the space, there’s also the former kebab space on Hayes that’s attached to the kitchen—the guys are talking about making it the lunch area, with a grab-and-go counter. November is the targeted opening date. 409 Gough St. and 406 Hayes St.

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The Liberty Café exterior; Yelp photo by Anthony N.

Looks like there’s a taker for ~THE LIBERTY CAFÉ~ space in Bernal Heights: according to Inside Scoop, it’s Vega Freemanbrady of Vega Pizza (also on Cortland). And here’s some nice news: she wants to keep it the Liberty Café, but give it some serious attention and TLC. Scoop further reports that Freemanbrady plans to update the menu with local ingredients, and overhaul the service practices—and she doesn’t plan to go dark while doing it. Look for changes to come slowly but surely in coming months. 410 Cortland Ave. at Bennington, 415-695-8777.

Also on Cortland, SFoodie reports ~SANDBOX BAKERY~ is going to have a sister restaurant: owner Mutsumi Takehara is opening Eat at 903 in the next few months at 903 Cortland (the former Maggie Mudd location). Look for breakfast, lunch, and takeout dinners. 903 Cortland Ave. at Gates.

A tablehopper tipster sent this in: “~ROCK CANDY SNACK SHOP~, 521 Cortland, soft opening right now. Supercute! Funky bright tiny storefront. They sell all kinds of candy and bars (no rock candy yet tho).” Bernalwood shares more about the shop: “[it] will emphasize artisanal and organic candies made in the good ol’ USA.” 521 Cortland Ave. at Andover, 415-948-7497.

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Colin Dewey; photo by John Mortimer.

Over at ~ZERO ZERO~, chef de cuisine Chris Whaley has departed, with Colin Dewey taking his place. Colin is returning from a stint in New York, working for Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich—he previously worked with chef Bruce Hill as a sous chef and chef de cuisine at Bix, and is excited to be working with him once again.

After my report last month that chef de cuisine Matt Gandin was leaving ~DELFINA~, Yumsugar has the word on his replacement: Dylan Montano, the chef at Traci Des Jardins’ Manzanita at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, who was previously at Quince. (Via Grub Street.)

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TRACE dining room; photo from Facebook.

The first phase of [~TRACE~] Restaurant in the W San Francisco is now complete (the entire renovation should be finished in October). Architect Stanley Saitowitz has transformed the space (take a look at the slideshow on Grub Street—including the latest incarnation of their light-up bar), and chef Paul Piscopo’s menu is committed to a farm-to-table, seasonal, and sustainable philosophy. Small plates on the dinner menu include Brentwood corn soup with spiced popcorn, cotija cheese, and cilantro cream; large plates include roasted squab with slow cooked yellow wax and romano beans and walnut vinaigrette. There is also lunch, breakfast, and weekend brunch. Look for many handcrafted details in the décor, and even the cocktails, wines, and beers follow a local and organic philosophy. 181 3rd St. at Howard, 415-817-7836.

And for you FiDi workers, SFoodie reports you can get your ramen fix at ~RAMEN UNDERGROUND~, a new joint from Katana-ya vet Ken Matsumura. Open Mon-Thu 11:30am-9pm, Fri-Sat 11:30am-11pm. 355 Kearny St. at Pine, 415-765-9909.

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Sashimi deluxe; photo from Tataki South.

A friend forwarded me the Glen Park Association newsletter, and now the blog mentions the partners of both Tataki locations (Ken Lui, Kenny Zhu, and Raymond Ho) are taking over the Sel et Vin wine bar space, which I mentioned had closed. They will be opening a Japanese sushi bar and restaurant in December—the name, menu, and more are being decided, but of course their sustainable approach to seafood sourcing will be a part of the concept. They will also be remodeling the space, so expect some bamboo in effect. 678 Chenery St. at Diamond.

I’m happy to return from Turkey and learn there’s a new Turkish place to scope out: Chowhounders have been tracking the return of Turkish chef Vahit Besir, who just opened his restaurant, ~GRILL HOUSE MEDITERRANEAN~. 533 Jones St. at O’Farrell.

Driving home from a Turtle Tower run on Friday, I noticed ~VIETNAM TOO~ has morphed into Sao Bien Restaurant. 701 Larkin St. at Ellis, 415-885-1274.

Up on Polk Street, Inside Scoop and Eater report ~BATTER BAKERY~ has partnered up with ~SQUARE MEALS~ (a meal delivery service) to open up in the Bombay Masala space. Look for an all-day café concept, with Ritual Roasters coffee and fresh-baked pastries in the morning, plus lunch and dinner (like “inventive whole grain salads, slow-braised meats, and other seasonal items”). The space is being completely revamped, but the owners are hopeful for an early December opening. There will be 20 seats, plus sidewalk seating as well. 2127 Polk St. at Broadway.

7x7 shares news that ~PIZZA INFERNO~ on Fillmore has done some serious updating: they now have a VPN (Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana) certified pizzaiolo from Naples, Ettore Rusciano, who has expanded the menu to include 33 Neapolitan-inspired pizzas. And they are claiming to have the largest selection of draft beers on Fillmore (20 craft beers on draft). And there’s an extended happy hour: Mon-Thu 3pm-7pm and Sun-Thu 9pm-close, you can get selected drafts beers for 50% off and $5 wines by the glass. 1800 Fillmore St. at Sutter, 415-775-1800.

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A late-night taco from La Oaxaqueña. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

I was very sorry to read on Grub Street that ~LA OAXAQUEÑA~ has closed—the owners are reportedly focusing on a catering business. There are many dishes on their menu I loved, plus their delicious hot chocolate. And they had some sweet late hours. Dagnabbit. 2128 Mission St. at 17th St.

Another bummer: a friend in the 650 pointed me to this article in The Almanac that ~KAYGETSU~ in Menlo Park is closing. Seems the owners (the Sakumas) were burnt out; moving into the space will be Restaurant Mitsunobu from Tomonari and Keiko Mitsunobu, serving “Japanese food with a California twist.” A bright spot: the current executive chef Shinichi Aoki will stay on. 325 Sharon Park Dr. at Sand Hill, Menlo Park, 650-234-1084.

A tipster let me know ~BEAUTIFULL!~ on Irving Street was about to close, and Eater confirms the closure was official. Laurel Village (3401 California St.) and the new location in the Castro (2301 Market St.) remain open.

Before leaving for Turkey, I noted a restaurant called ~CASTAGNA~ (site under construction) was moving into the short-lived Crave City in the Marina from Jerome and Stephane Meloni, previously of Cassis. A press release now reveals more details: Castagna will be a casual eatery, serving French and Italian dishes, plus some “American favorites with a French twist.” Look for crêpes, waffles, hamburgers, pasta dishes, Neapolitan-style pizzas, sandwiches, and salads (all made with quality ingredients). Castagna will serve breakfast, lunch, dinner (once the beer and wine license is secured), and food to go. There will be seating for 24, with plans for sidewalk seating as well. Look for an October opening. 2015 Chestnut St. at Fillmore.

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Casey’s pizza photo by @mcs3000.

That’s right folks, SF has a mobile pizza truck—and with a serious brick oven inside. Casey Crynes is no longer cooking in parks and pop-ups, and has fired up the engine to his ~CASEY’S PIZZA~ truck. Follow it on Twitter to see where you can grab one of his artisan pies (initial locations include lunch in downtown, the Upper Haight farmers’ market, and eventually evenings in the Mission and Hayes Valley).

There’s also a cart from Portland that has now made its way to the 415, the ~TREATMACHINE~, which the owner tells me is “a made-from-scratch vegan taco moped food cart (it’s a trike).” Look for $2 vegan tacos, featuring handmade tortillas, avocado, mango, yam, plantain, homemade sauces, and black beans. Follow its whereabouts in the Mission on Twitter.

On now is the ~EATER’S CHOICE AWARDS~, presented by Chase Sapphire Visa Signature in partnership with Off the Grid. From now until October 5th, you can vote once per day for your favorite food truck (there are nearly 30 to choose from). Here’s the best part: for every vote cast online, Chase will donate $1 to the San Francisco and Marin Food Banks, up to $10,000. And at Fort Mason on Saturday October 15th (from 12pm-4pm), the number-one favorite mobile eatery will be revealed at this public event and will win a $5,000 customized truck makeover. The top 10 favorite food trucks will also be in attendance. Cast your vote today!

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Photo from Philz Coffee’s Facebook page.

Noe Valley SF mentions ~PHILZ COFFEE~ is opening a fifth location, in a former pet shop in Noe Valley. They hope to open before the end of the year. 4298 24th St. at Douglas.

All you bench pressers at Gold’s Gym in SoMa should notice ~BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE~ has parked a mobile kiosk by the gym, according to the Inside Scoop. Starting hours are Mon-Wed 8am-12pm, with a probable schedule of Mon-Fri 8am-5pm in October. 1001 Brannan St. at Division.

~FOUR BARREL COFFEE~ tweeted this little teaser: “Keep an eye out for the grand re-opening of the alley; on the 1st day the 1st 40ish customers get one of the old chairs free with any bevy.” (And here’s a pic of the new chairs that have gone in.) Stand by for an update soon—probably in a couple weeks.

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A dish from one of Borzee’s private dinners.

Another pop-up dinner for your calendar from a former Coi cook is coming up on Monday October 10th at ~RADIUS~. Chef Nicolas Borzee has put together the following menu for $60 (does not include tax, gratuity, or drinks): potato salad: marble potatoes, radish, apple; squid stew, clams, and parsley; pork loin battle: salsa verde and tomato fondue; pear and Fourme d’Ambert; dessert by Maxime Pouvreau (Le Meurice hotel in Paris, Coi, and Radius).

Borzee was a former sous chef at Coi restaurant for three years, and also worked at Spruce and staged at the Ritz, Michael Mina, and La Folie. Before arriving in San Francisco, he cooked for 10 years in France for Alain Ducasse, Joël Robuchon, and Michel Troisgros, so no, you won’t be getting a meal of comfort food. He’s also going to be using quality local and organic ingredients (things you learn while at Coi). Make a reservation via email or call him direct at 415-370-4275.

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The counter; photo by Zoe Zeitlin.

I received a note from Monica Rocchino that she and her husband, Aaron Rocchino, have opened ~THE LOCAL BUTCHER SHOP~ in Berkeley. Aaron was at Chez Panisse for the last five years, while Monica worked for Paula LeDuc Catering, so you can also get some good cooking tips with your purchase. They are buying whole animals directly from farmers located within 150 miles of Berkeley, and all of the animals are 100% pasture raised. Since they buy the whole animal, they cut to order and use the remainder to make sausages, pâtés, stocks, rendered fats, and sauces. (Tasting Table also mentions some delicious tallow-fried potato chips. Open Tue-Fri 10am-7pm, Sat-Sun 10am-6pm. 1600 Shattuck Ave. at Cedar, Berkeley, 510-845-6328.