December 13, 2011

December 13, 2011
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The dining room’s back wall with glass panels. Photo by Cesar Rubio.

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Dining room tables and wine storage. Photo by Cesar Rubio.

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Lounge seating. Photo by Cesar Rubio.

Last Friday evening, I had a chance to attend an opening party at the new ~PARALLEL 37~ at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco. The look by EDG Interior Architecture + Design is urban and comfortable, featuring a spacious bar and lounge area (the bar counters are soapstone, fabricated by stone masons in the Dogpatch). There’s a NorCal vibe throughout, with lots of wood elements (the dining room tabletops are made from myrtlewood, while the cocktail tables are white oak), and the glass panels in the dining room feature photographs of live oaks from the East Bay hills. There are two private rooms; one is a chef’s table, with a window into the kitchen. The color scheme is warm and a bit reminiscent of the 70s with all the oranges and smoky glass.

While it’s a biiiig departure from what was previously there (heavy upholstery, to-the-floor table linens)—and the rest of the hotel—I didn’t find the style to be particularly edgy. But the room is well appointed, feels relaxed, and is going to work well for a variety of occasions, whether it’s a business meeting, double date, or after-work destination—and dinner will no longer be a three-hour (plus) affair.

Chef Ron Siegel is a wicked-talented chef, so even though the menu is now simplified and casual, he’ll still be doing the same top-notch ingredient sourcing and applying the same excellent technique. The dinner menu has appetizers like kampachi sashimi ($15) with orange-ginger marinade and crisp rice, and short rib ravioli ($16) with onions, celery root, and curry. Entrées include sea bass en papillote ($27), and max out at $29 for the beef rib-eye with potatoes, chanterelle mushroom, red onion jam, and pinot noir reduction (pssst—based on the excellent beef he is using, that dish is a steal). You can look at a sample dinner menu here. I’m happy that I’ll be able to afford having Siegel’s excellent cooking more than once a year.

The bar bites menu will be a fun one to work your way through, from the crispy chicken wings ($6) to the blue cheese balls ($6)—and you know his cheeseburger ($15) is going to rock. Dessert has a few selections like a Nutella croquette and lemon semifreddo.

The lounge is designed to be a big draw, and Camber Lay’s cocktails will feature the same seasonal and local approach as the kitchen. Siegel and Lay are collaborating for the first time and are bringing the “kitchen to the cocktail,” utilizing the kitchen to create syrups, reductions, and more for the bar to use. Sure to be a hit is her Barfly cocktail ($14), with muddled Poblano peppers, bourbon, Benedictine, lemon juice, and vanilla simple syrup. Of course you’ll still be able to get some amazing wines. And one of my favorite changes? They lowered the valet charge for diners from $25 to $10. Open daily for lunch 11am-2:30pm and dinner 5:30pm-10pm (I am curious to see if the dinner hours will eventually run later).

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The Outfit Generic group. Photo by Aubrie Pick.

The talented William Werner (former executive pastry chef/founder of Tell Tale Preserve Company) has some good news. He is the Chief Creative Officer of ~OUTFIT GENERIC~, a boutique hospitality group that includes managing partners Josh Chen (founder, principal, and creative director of Chen Design Associates), Kate Killoran (general manager of Tell Tale Preserve Company), and Lawrence Lai and Ann Lee (founders of Naivetea). The group has secured a 1,500-square-foot production kitchen, currently under construction in Bayview, and will be launching a contemporary patisserie in San Francisco in spring 2012. Further details, including the name, logo, location, menu, and design, will be revealed early in the New Year.

As for how Outfit Generic is structured, the press release breaks it down thusly: Werner is responsible for the creation of the group’s strategic vision and concepts, including menu development and overall look and feel. Josh Chen will be collaborating with Werner on the inspiration, branding, packaging and retail environment for Outfit Generic’s concepts. Chief Operating Officer Kate Killoran previously partnered with Werner to manage Tell Tale’s operations. Lawrence Lai (Chief Executive Officer) and his wife, Ann Lee (Chief Financial Officer), partnered earlier this year with Werner to launch the pop-up afternoon tea Kettle Whistle. Looking forward to seeing what this creative team has in store for us.

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The famed in-side-out burger. Yelp photo by Karla S.

After five years of chef Bruce Binn making in-side-out burgers on Valencia, the groovily designed ~SPORK~ will be closing after service on Friday December 23rd. Co-owner Neil Jorgensen had this to say: “We’ve completed our five-year lease and are planning to focus on Thermidor and a few other potential little projects. We want to thank all our loyal fans and uber regulars for being so good to us over the years and would love to give everyone the opportunity to stop by for a high-five or a chance to enjoy a last meal.”

If you recall, the building is slated to be demolished and turned into condos in the near future, so it doesn’t look likely that anyone will move into the space. Here’s wishing the team all the best; I do know I’ll miss drinking wine on their super-secret patio when summer weather returns.

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

I was sorry to learn that Elizabeth Falkner is closing ~CITIZEN CAKE~ on Fillmore at the end of the year, as reported in the Inside Scoop. The restaurant went through a reconcepting a few months ago, and even though it has been busy, she reportedly has not been able to make up for the rough financial start when construction delayed the restaurant’s opening for nine months. Citizen Cake is open for limited hours until it closes at the end of the month: Tue-Thu 11am-5pm and Fri-Sat 11am-10pm. Orson, currently a private event space, is also on the market.

In the good news department, Falkner has been doing very well on The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs, and this Sunday is the final challenge: she’s up against chef Jeff Zakarian. Best of luck, Elizabeth! Ninja chef is in the house.

Come by Orson on Sunday December 18th at 2pm for brunch and watch a special screening of the seventh episode on Orson’s digital wall. Tickets are $40 in advance and can be purchased here or $45 at the door.

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Photo from Per Diem; via Grub Street.

Grub Street reports ~PER DIEM~ is opening in the Financial District this Friday December 16th in the Chancery Building. The project is from Darren Matte and Logan Shedd (Brick Yard), Cameron Baird, and Sean Wells, with chef Adam Hinojosa (Osteria, Café des Amis). You can look at the Cal-Ital menu here, with pastas ($12-$14), pizzettas ($11-$13), and five entrées (under $23). It’s spacious (2,500 square feet) with a full bar and private dining. Open Mon-Fri 10am-2am, serving lunch and dinner, with happy hour 3pm-6pm. 43 Sutter St. at Montgomery, 415-989-0300.

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Exterior of Precita Park Cafe. Photo by Rebecca Kinney. © tablehopper.com.

Getting close: ~PRECITA PARK CAFE~ is due to soft open this Friday December 16th in Bernal Heights (the project was mentioned a while ago in tablehopper). It will be open seven days a week, from 7am-8pm. The hours of operation will be longer than at their other cafes Dolores Park Cafe and Duboce Park Cafe because Precita Park Cafe will eventually have dinner service (look for hours to extend until 10pm in the New Year). There will be a good variety of wines as well, plus eight beers on tap, and a few bottles too. 500 Precita St. at Alabama, 415-647-7702.

The new Good Taste column on NBC mentions the owners of ~CURRY VILLAGE~ are opening a second location in the Mission in the Cafe Petra space by the end of the month (current target date is December 26th). There will be 30 seats; lunch and dinner will be served. Note: their popular $10 all-you-can-eat buffet will only be available at their Sunset location. 483 Guerrero St. at 17th St.

According to Gianni’s North Beach blog, the owner of Pinocchio (Giovanni Zocca) at 658 Vallejo Street will be opening a deli next door, ~GEPPETTO’S SALUMERIA~, possibly before Christmas. Eater shares more info: “Zocca says that he will feature panini and other prepared foods not otherwise available in North Beach, perhaps in hopes of giving nearby local Molinari Delicatessen a run for the money. He also claims he will stock carefully selected Italian imports that are hard if not impossible to find in the States.”

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Flickr photo by yipe.

As mentioned in tablehopper a couple weeks ago, Prather Ranch Meat Co. is opening ~THE AMERICAN EATERY~ in the Ferry Building—the opening date is this Friday December 16th. The retail shop and Eatery have moved across the hall and are opening in a new space.

Chef Erica Holland-Toll has created a meat-centric, seasonal, American menu focused on takeout dishes, including soups (beef and barley soup), salads (like one with roasted pork tenderloin, little gems, toasted walnuts, feta, and roasted beets with Dijon mustard vinaigrette), sandwiches (including pulled beef, pulled pork, meatballs, and roast beef), chili (with dry-aged Prather Ranch chuck, Rancho Gordo beans, sharp cheddar, scallions, and sour cream), sausages, stews, a variety of their delicious burgers, and a selection of side dishes, like tallow-fried french fries. Uh huh. Some breakfast items are also offered, like a sandwich with fried egg, cheddar cheese, and sausage patty on an Acme challah roll, and weekend-only specials.

Abueg Morris Architects designed the space, with wood paneling from an 1880s barn on Prather’s Bella Vista property, Heath tiles, concrete countertops, and blown glass light pendants. Hours are Mon-Sat 7am-7pm, Sun 9am-5pm. 1 Ferry Building, shop #33, 415-391-0420.

More eats coming to the Dogpatch (and drinks, too). Opening in the American Industrial Center at the end of January will be ~GILBERTH’S ROTISSERIE & GRILL~, from Gilberth Cab and Julia Rivera of The New Spot (one of my very favorite places for pupusas) and Oralia’s. The Latin-fusion menu will feature dishes with Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Central American influences, like roasted pork neck with plantain mofongo, and Cuban baby back ribs with a guava glaze, fried plantains, and gallo pinto. And, of course, chicken off the rotisserie. There wil be 45 seats, and it will be open daily 11am-3pm and 5pm-10:30pm. 2427-2429 3rd St. at 20th St.

Meanwhile, the Sea Star Club is now ~THE GOAT~. Bartender-owner Christopher Webster has been bartending at the Double Play and Dogpatch Saloon the past six years, so he’s no stranger to the neighborhood. He said it’s just meant to be a neighborhood bar “with stuff and style.” The stuff includes a pool table, an impending jukebox, and there are 12 beers on tap, primarily microbrews from the West Coast. Open daily 12pm-2am. 2289 3rd St. at 19th St., 415-252-7988.

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Dottie’s True Blue Cafe (and perma-line). Photo by Rebecca Kinney. © tablehopper.com.

I received word that the last day for ~DOTTIE’S TRUE BLUE CAFE~ at 522 Jones Street will be Saturday December 24th. After 18 1/2 years in their Tenderloin location—as previously mentioned on tablehopper—owner Kurt Abney is moving the business to the former Passion Café space. No official open date has been set for the new location. 28 6th St. at Market.

The Richmond SF blog says ~CAFE MEREB~, known for its Eritrean and Mediterranean fare, is closing December 20th. 1541 Clement St. at 16th Ave., 415-668-2988.

And the city just became a less-tacky place with this news from SFist: ~HOOTERS~ in Fisherman’s Wharf is closing December 21st.

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Photo courtesy of Zaré at Fly Trap.

A couple bits of hiring news: over at ~ZARÉ AT FLY TRAP~, chef-owner Hoss Zaré has hired Zack Freitas (Station 1, Commis, Manresa) as his chef de cuisine. Scoop mentions while the Persian-Mediterranean menu will keep its focus, there will be an updated menu in January.

I always like to keep an eye on where pastry chef Majkin Klare is working: she is currently at ~HEIRLOOM CAFÉ~. Her mint-chocolate chip profiteroles and cheddar shortcakes with brown sugar apples are on the menu, along with the usual fresh-baked cookie and affogato combo.

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Crabs! Photo courtesy of The Whole Beast and Bernal Supper Club.

Over the next few days, these fun, unique, and sure to be tasty neighborhood events are coming to a ‘hood near you. Keep ‘em on your radar as you’re making dinner plans.

Now that Dungeness crab season is finally underway, you can enjoy a pop-up ~WHOLE DUNGENESS CRAB FEAST~ from the combined forces of The Whole Beast (John Fink) and Bernal Supper Club (Jonathan Sutton, Miles Carnahan, and Tony Ferrari). Their five-course Dungeness crab tasting menu will be served Thursday and Friday, December 15th and 16th, at Winemakers’ Speakeasy (1152 Valencia St. at 22nd St.). It’s a whole-crustacean menu that will feature crab butter on toast; Dungeness crab bisque (made from the shells) with Cognac, fennel, tarragon; crab salad with winter greens, market citrus, persimmons, Champagne vinaigrette; Dungeness crab raviolo, crab coral, chanterelles, leeks, spinach; deep-fried whole crab tossed with classic Chinese-style ginger-black peppercorn sauce; and lime sorbet, gingersnap cookie, pomegranate. 6:30pm and 9pm seatings. $48. Resos: 513-910-8896, or email.

Dinner and a movie is nothing new. How ‘bout dinner and some Mayan legends? On Wednesday December 14th, ~CHAAC MOOL~, a La Cocina participant, is hosting a pop-up dinner at Haltun, where chef-owner Luis Vazquez will serve authentic Yucatecan dishes while explaining the history of each dish and its roots in Mayan lore. (FYI, “Chaac” is the Mayan god of rain.) Sign up online so you can learn the legends behind these dishes and eat them too: sopa de cool (chicken soup with cabbage, herbs, pumpkin seed vinaigrette), ensalada Chichen Itza (salad with purslane, spinach, grilled corn seeds, sweet mango dressing), platillo mestizo (pork legs rolled in a beef steak, baked with herbs and potatoes), and borrachitos (almond cake filled with fresh guava and marinated in a Yucatecan wine). 7pm. $50, includes glass of red or white wine or Mexican beer; add a bottle of wine for $20. Haltun Restaurant, 2948 21st St. at Treat. Tickets.

Swing by the Wurst Holiday Block Party ever, coming up on Friday December 16th, 4pm-8pm, in Merchant Alley (between Battery and Sansome) at ~CAFE PRAGUE~. Go after work for the beer specials (half-liter $4.80, liter $8), $3 mulled wine, and $3 grilled sausages with sauerkraut. Go early for free barbecue chicken wings (4pm-5pm), and for $1 off Staropramen beer to the first 100 guests. Free admission. 424 Merchant St. at Battery.

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Liège waffle; photo courtesy of Suite Foods.

On Friday December 16th, Suite Foods—a wholesale bakery specializing in Liège waffles from Belgium—will be making their waffles to order and on site at ~DUBOCE PARK CAFÉ~ from 2pm-6pm. 2 Sanchez St. at Duboce, 415-621-1108.

And on Sunday December 18th, Benoit, the man behind the Benwaffle®, will be celebrating his second year making Belgian waffles for brunch at ~BAR JULES~. There will be the traditional bacon/maple syrup combo, plus a banana/Nutella version available. 11am-2:30pm.

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Dining room; photo by Daniel Patterson via Twitter.

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Counter seating at Haven; photo by Daniel Patterson via Twitter.

It’s been a long time coming: opening for dinner this Wednesday December 14th in Jack London Square is ~HAVEN~, the latest Daniel Patterson Group project. Executive chef Kim Alter (Plate Shop, Ubuntu) will be offering a menu of new California cuisine, featuring whole animal and vegetable preparations, and most items on the menu are meant to be shared. Some sample dishes are roasted chicken with farro, foie chicken jus, and fall vegetables, and family-style clams with bacon, bourbon, turnip, and sea beans. Just wait until you try her smoky fettuccine with pancetta and egg, a dish I tasted at one of her preview dinners at Plum. (You can also peek at this snapshot of the menu from a friends and family dinner Monday night.) Pastry chef Matt Tinder’s desserts include a half dozen profiteroles with salted almond and burnt orange caramel, and cocoa nib torrone with dates, shortbread, and rice sorbet.

Like Patterson’s other restaurants, Scott Kester designed the 3,000-square-foot space; it features handcrafted and salvaged materials, Shaker-style chairs, plus exposed brick and vintage factory lighting. There’s also a view of the water and plenty of windows and natural light. There are 65 seats, plus a 12-seat bar and 12-seat dining counter overlooking the open kitchen. Full bar. Hours are Sun-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm.

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Fixin’s for the charcuterie plate at Bar Dogwood, the big sis to Stag’s. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

I had a chance to catch up with Alexeis Filipello, owner of Bar Dogwood in Oakland and her upcoming project ~STAG’S LUNCHETTE~. She’s opening a lunch spot in the former Uncle Dougie’s, and will be serving a variety of sandwiches made with sustainable and house-cured meats, like pastrami, salami, sausage, and game meats—like goat sausage and duck—all cut to order. Yup, there will be a duck pastrami Reuben in your future. Filipello is one of the few female charcutiers in the area, and has brought on Spider Davila from Austin to assist for the next month or so.

There’s going to be a honking rotisserie (it’s big enough to fit two suckling pigs at a time), which will have porchetta spinning on it, plus there will be a smoker. You’ll also be able to order seasonal seafood, like a killer crab roll with drawn garlic butter and green onion rémoulade. Sauces and spreads will be housemade, from the mayo and mustard to the hot sauce and sauerkraut. The morning will feature housemade pastries, and some quick egg-and-sausage type items, and a cold case will hold items for take-out or to simply take home, like salads, crab cakes, and the like. Perfect for the “stag” bachelor. Sandwiches will range from $8-$9, and there will also be specials, like shrimp and grits.

It’s going to have a spiffy barn-y look, with reclaimed wood, walnut tables with bases made by a local blacksmith, mahogany wainscoting, and wood floors. It’s spacious, with room for 40. French press coffee will be available, in addition to espresso drinks, plus local beers and wines. The soft opening is slated for the beginning of January. Hours will be Mon-Fri 8am-4pm. 362 17th St. at Franklin, Oakland.

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The future home of Paul Canales’ restaurant. Flickr photo from mental.masala via Grub Street.

Lots of activity in Oakland: chef Paul Canales (previously at Oliveto—for 15 years!) has decided on a spot for his next restaurant—it will be in the gorg Oakland Floral Depot building where Flora is located. Scoop mentions there will be a bar, music, art, and 80 seats. His partner in the project is Rocco Somazzi, who will be the GM. That’s about all we have for the name and concept, stand by for more in coming months. 468 19th St. at Telegraph, Oakland.

Over on Grand Avenue, Chowhound mentions ~MONKEY FOREST ROAD~ has opened across the street from Boot & Shoe, serving single-origin coffees from estates in Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia (some they import themselves) in the middle of their Southeast Asian furnishing and art store. Each cup is individually brewed, and there are also some scones and biscotti available. Open 7am-7pm. 3265 Grand Ave. at Elwood, Oakland, 510-327-2400.

I was excited to read this piece in Bay Area Bites about ~FUSEBOX~, an upcoming “kkochi-gui pub”/izakaya from chef Sunhui Chang in West Oakland. The Korean restaurant will feature his own housemade gochuchang, pickles, different kinds of kimchee, bacon mochi, grilled skewers, and more. If you are at all into pickling, check out the article—I for one am excited. 2311 A Magnolia St. at 24th St., Oakland.

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I’ve been trying to get official information on this project since July, and some details have finally been released (Scoop has their story here). Opening in 2012 is ~COMAL~, a project from owner and first-time restaurateur John Paluska, the former manager for Phish. The focus will be on rustic, handmade Mexican cuisine, with an emphasis on Oaxaca. The chef is Matt Gandin, previously chef de cuisine at Delfina. Menu highlights from the press release: carefully sourced ingredients, “exceptional masa,” and much of the food will be cooked on either the large wood-fired hearth or the custom comal.

The Bon Vivants are developing the bar program, and Andrew Hoffman (previously at Chow and Eccolo) will oversee front of house, as well as the wine and beer lists. Abueg Morris architects (Nopalito, Roam) are behind the project; the building (dating back to circa 1927) will feature original Douglas fir beams and flooring, plus a new façade fabricated by Richmond’s Ferrous Studios, complete with custom steel doors and windows. There will be room for 140 total, with a 2,500-square-foot hidden patio with its own bar. Dinner nightly, and weekend brunch will launch later. The opening is slated for spring 2012. 2020 Shattuck Ave. at University, Berkeley.