October 30, 2012

October 30, 2012
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A rendering of the 178 Townsend building. Rendering courtesy HKS Architects via Interface Engineering.

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Chef Joshua Skenes at work. Photo courtesy Saison.

Well, this is exciting. ~SAISON~ has finally released some details on their new SOMA location. As previously reported on tablehopper, they’ll be at 178 Townsend in SoMa, in the California Electric Light Company Building. Some new details have come out, including that there will be a cocktail program, so get excited. They should be opening in their new location in mid-December; the final day of service on Folsom Street will be November 30th.

The industrial building dates from the 1880s, and you’ll see a lot of the historic details: exposed beams and brick, and 35-foot ceilings. The new spot will seat 18 in the dining room with an additional 12 at the bar. Partners Joshua Skenes (chef) and Mark Bright (sommelier) have sought to keep the place intimate, but also open and unrestricted. They’ll still be cooking over an open fire with modern techniques and offering their outstanding 5,000-bottle wine cellar, but the new space will offer them new opportunities for growth.

The restaurant was designed by a team that included Skenes and Bright, plus Michael Gibson, Jiun Ho, Bassel Samaha, and Tim Harrison. The kitchen will be totally open—as in, no walls at all. Everything going on in the kitchen will be visible to diners. They’ll be holding on to their Molteni stove, plus adding a wood-fired MIWE bread-baking deck oven from Germany. They’ve paid lots of attention to details, too, like hand-blown cocktail glasses from Japan and Zalto stemware. All the tables will be crafted from eight-foot slabs of walnut and “partitions” of walnut, with plants, candles, and books that will keep each table private. Once they reopen, they’ll be serving Tue-Sat 5pm-10pm, with seatings hourly between 5:30pm-8:30pm. 178 Townsend St. at Clarence.

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Dumplings at Shandong Deluxe. Yelp photo by Mel T.

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The bibimbap at K-Pop. Yelp photo by Chief N.

A few new spots for your radar: first, fans of the handmade noodles at Shan Dong Restaurant on Geary now have a second spot to check out: ~SHANDONG DELUXE~ is now open in Parkside, in the former Ramen Doraku space. Noodles, dumplings, what’s not to love? (Hat tip to Chowhound.) 1042 Taraval St. at 21st Ave., 415-592-8801.

Down in SoMa, what was going to be called Baan 2 is now called ~ROOT~. Look for more contemporary Thai cuisine, but still rooted (har) in a traditional cooking style. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner now, with brunch to come; there will also be a whiskey program, possibly launching by Thanksgiving. (Note: upstairs will be the aforementioned Alchemist, hopefully opening soon.) 685 3rd St. at Townsend, 415-904-9896.

The same restaurant group has also launched ~OODLES~ in the Excelsior, serving ramen and Pan-Pacific cuisine, plus there’s a soju lounge. Open for dinner and late night now, with plans to open for lunch in a few more weeks. 4995 Mission St. at Italy, 415-334-7241.

Meanwhile, the Castro has some new Asian vittles: first, ~K-POP~ is now open, serving Korean classics like kalbi, bibimbap, and more, according to Grub Street. 499 Castro St. at 18th St., 415-252-9500.

7x7 has a report on the dim sum menu at a new weekend pop-up called ~MAMA JI’S~ at Queen Malika Cafe. More details on Eater here; hours are Sat-Sun 9:30am-4pm. 4415 18th St. at Eureka, 415-626-4416.

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Torch those puppies! Photo by Benjamin Hale Photography via The Crème Brûlée Cart’s Facebook page.

Awhile back I mentioned Pete Mrabe of ~DON PISTO’S~ and ~THE CHUBBY NOODLE~ in North Beach was going to be opening a deli as well. The location is going to be 728 Vallejo, and it’s currently being repainted. The deli will feature housemade meats and five hot and five cold sandwiches, plus some prepared foods and salads—you will also be able to stock up on cold cuts and cheeses. A new addition: fresh pastas you can take home, like rigatoni, pappardelle, gnocchi, and ravioli. There will be 10 seats and a bunch of specialty items on the shelves. Stand by for an opening date. 728 Vallejo St. at Stockton.

Another item of note: Curtis Kimball, aka the man behind ~THE CRÈME BRÛLÉE CART~, is going to be expanding with two new cart locations (this is in addition to his SoMa brick-and-mortar location on Folsom). He will be launching a new cart in the Westfield Centre, starting Thursday November 8th or Friday the 9th. Usually, you’ll be able to find him on the fourth floor (by the “Under the Dome” restaurants), but on Sundays, he’ll be stationed by the movie theater. Follow him on Twitter @cremebruleecart for his exact location. Kimball will also be launching another cart right outside the food court at Stonestown Mall, with a target date right before Thanksgiving.

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Inkas. Yelp photo by Kevin Y.

Some rumors on Chowhound suggested that ~INKAS~ in Bernal had changed ownership, and it turns out they’re right! The new owner is Sergio Robles, who was not involved with the restaurant in the past. We called for details, and they say they’ll be keeping the menu similar if not identical to the previous one, and the focus will still be on traditional Peruvian food. Hope they don’t mess too much with that much-loved chicken! They’re open Sun-Thu 11:30am-9pm, Fri-Sun 11:30am-10pm. 3299 Mission St. at 29th St., 415-648-0111.

Last week, I broke the news that chef Sante Salvoni was out at ~MAU~ and the restaurant was temporarily closed; and now according to Grub Street, it sounds like the restaurant is reopening on Wednesday for lunch and dinner.

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Michelle Polzine at Meals on Wheels. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Just wanted to keep you posted on a couple of upcoming Hayes Valley projects that we’ll be seeing in 2013. First, pastry superstar Michelle Polzine (who has been at Range for almost seven years) is having her last shift at Range today (her assistants will be taking over for her, and keeping her dessert menu intact for now). Polzine will be busy in the coming months getting her project ~20TH CENTURY CAFE~ up and running—you can read the previous project report on tablehopper. She is currently targeting early 2013 for an opening. In the meantime, you might see her doing some savory staging at Frances. 198 Gough St. at Oak.

Another project update: ~FIG + THISTLE~, the beer and wine bar from Angel Davis and Nguey Lay (see the earlier tablehopper post here) are now looking at February for their opening (they are making their way through permiting as they convert a former doctor’s office into the bar). 313 Ivy St. at Gough.

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Yelp photo by Robert P.

As previously reported in tablehopper, the Red Vic Movie House will be reopening as a multiuse space (hopefully by March 2013), which will include a marketplace of food businesses (called ~SECOND ACT MARKETPLACE AND EVENTS~) and an expansion of ~THE ALEMBIC~ (almost doubling its seating).

For now, here is the latest confirmed list of marketplace tenants: Spice Hound (the awesome spice shop that’s already in Bernal); Picnic Bakery, a bakery focused on accommodating dietary restrictions without sacrificing flavor; RAW, a juice bar serving drinks made from local, organic produce; High Cotton Kitchen, which will serve high-quality hot lunches and dinners to go; and Lali’s, a Georgian (the country, not the state) restaurant with a seasonal focus.

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Mama Alice and Carlo Petrini of Slow Food International, show their support for Prop 37. Photo Courtesy CA Right to Know.

As you may have noticed, tablehopper doesn’t usually get too political and mostly sticks with hard-hard-hitting restaurant news, like where to score katsu buns on a Sunday. But this November, California’s Proposition 37 has been big news within the food community. For those of you who haven’t been following it, Proposition 37, if passed, would require food companies to label genetically modified products. It doesn’t ban or penalize them, just requires a label.

Lots of chefs and food luminaries have gotten behind the proposition, including Alice Waters, Mario Batali, Deborah Madison, Dan Barber, Rick Bayless, and Charles Phan. A recent petition, headed by Waters herself, includes signatures from more than 1,000 chefs. To take a look at the petition, and for more information about the issue, check out the California Right to Know website. Michael Pollan weighed in with an article for The New York Times (paywall alert!), and you can also check out this MSNBC video. (Keep a lookout for Danny DeVito’s bit part there too.) So while we’re not telling you how to vote, do check out some of the information on this issue, because if you like to eat—and care about what you eat—this is an important time to pay attention.

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A winter risotto from chef Thomas McNaughton. Photo courtesy 20th Street Corridor blog.

On Tuesday October 30th (that’s tonight—act fast!), Alison McQuade, of McQuade’s Celtic Chutneys, will be teaching Create Your Own Chutney! at the ~FERRY BUILDING~. The class is put on by Urban Kitchen SF, and you’ll leave class with your own jar of chutney, a spice blend for making your own chutney at home, and a recipe. The class is from 5:30pm-7:30pm, and tickets are $47.

Then, on Thursday November 8th, Urban Kitchen will be bringing us another class, More Fermenting Fun with Happy Girl Kitchen: Kimchi & Kraut, with Todd Champagne of Happy Girl Kitchen. This one is also at the ~FERRY BUILDING~, and you’ll learn the basics of pH and fermentation safety, and head home with recipes, the kraut and kimchi made in class, and supplies to keep you going at home. The class will be from 5:30pm-7:30pm, and tickets are $56.

On Saturday November 10th, Alice Medrich will be in Brisbane at the ~PURCELL MURRAY~ culinary showroom for an afternoon of demonstrations and tastings. She’ll be showing you how to make perfect piecrusts, holiday cakes, cookies, and sweets using recipes from her latest book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts. The class is from 2pm-4pm, and costs $45. 185 Park Lane at Valley, Brisbane, 415-330-5557.

Looking for a luxurious class experience? On Monday November 19th or Monday December 17th, you can catch a seasonal risotto class at ~SALUMERIA~ with Flour + Water and Central Kitchen chef Thomas McNaughton. You’ll learn how to make your own risotto using seasonal ingredients, and then sit down to a three-course, risotto-focused dinner with wine pairings. Plus, you’ll get a risotto kit and recipes to take home and try out yourself. Both classes will be from 6:30pm-8:30pm, and cost $175, including dinner, tip, wine, and the class, though tax is additional. You can purchase November tickets here and December tickets here.

Also at Salumeria, check out the Turkey Basics class with chef Thomas McNaughton. You’ll learn how to select a bird, how to brine it, and how to cook it properly so it’s juuuust right. You’l go home with all the ingredients you need to brine your own turkey, too. They’ll be serving prosecco, wine, and salumi during the class, so don’t worry about going hungry. Tickets to the class costs $100 and will be at 6:30pm on either Sunday November 11th or 18th; you pick which date is best for you. 3000 20th St. at Florida, 415-471-2998.

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

With all of the new restaurants opening these days, their design has become a topic of much discussion and debate. For a lively conversation on the topic, head to Public Works on Wednesday November 7th for a panel discussion hosted by Culintro. Erin Feher of California Home + Design magazine will be moderating the panel, which will include David Darling of Aidlin Darling, Douglas Burnham of envelope Architecture + Design, and Robert Polacek of the Puccini Group. They’ll be talking about the evolving needs of restaurants and how designers keep up (or don’t) with changing needs in the industry. The event will go from 6pm-10pm, and tickets are $20 for Culintro members and $30 for the general public. The event includes cocktails, light nibbles, and an after-party with an open bar. 161 Erie St. at Mission, 415-932-0955.

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Chocolates at the Chocolate Salon. Photo courtesy Chocolate Salon website.

If you’re a chocolate lover, or have one on your gift list, make sure you head to the Fall Luxury Chocolate Salon on Sunday November 11th, from 10am-5pm. The event features more than 30 chocolatiers, confectioners, and wineries for your perusing pleasure. You’ll be able to sample and purchase gourmet chocolates and confections, as well as check out chef talks and demonstrations. Tickets are $20 in advance, which is recommended as there are limited tickets at the door. Building A, Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason.

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Tacos and beer from Nido. Photo from Facebook.

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PieTisserie shows off their Giants pride. Photo from Facebook.

Back in June, I mentioned owners Silvia McCollow (who is also the chef) and husband Cory McCollow and were opening ~NIDO~, a brick-and-mortar Mexican spot based on their Nido meal delivery service, in Jack London Square. Good news, it’s open! The tacos sound so good, ditto the cemita; check out the lunch menu here. There is also a window where you can pick up some very special artisan pies (like Okinawan sweet potato, or chocolate cream and pretzel) from Jaynelle St. Jean of the acclaimed ~PIETISSERIE~. Nido: Tue-Fri 11am-3pm, Sat-Sun 9am-2pm. Dinner service starts tonight: happy hour menu from 3pm-5pm and dinner from 5pm-10pm. 444 Oak St., Jack London, Oakland, 510-444-NIDO.

There’s a new executive chef at Daniel Patterson’s ~PLUM~ (and Plum Bar), according to the Inside Scoop: Manfred “Manny” Wrembel, who is coming over from Incanto where he was chef de cuisine. The menu will be changing from small plates to more of a traditional format, with appetizers, entrées, and desserts. New dishes include trout with sunchokes, kumquat, and sorrel; chicken with beet, dill, smoked lentils, and horseradish; and squash ravioli with Brussels sprouts and chestnut. A couple of other tweaks: the restaurant will now open half an hour earlier at 5pm for guests looking to enjoy the weekday happy hour; and Plum Bar will begin offering lunch service on December 1st.

East Bay residents: have you had a chance to read about all the winners in Diablo magazine’s 2012 Food Awards?

Berkeleyside mentions Elmwood’s ~HOLY LAND RESTAURANT~ closed after 15 years in business; the original restaurant in Oakland (at 677 Rand Ave.) remains open. Taking its place is ~PADI RESTAURANT~, an Indonesian restaurant. Open daily 11am-10pm. 2965 College Ave. at Ashby, Berkeley, 510-841-1608.

San Francisco’s Stuart Bai, the owner of Sally’s in Potrero who was also affiliated with Liberty Café in Bernal for a spell, seems to be involved with the former ~WATER LOUNGE & RAW BAR~ in Rockridge (according to ABC permit activity). Diablo Dish mentions it’s a French bistro concept that should be opening in the new year after a significant renovation. 5634 College Ave. at Keith, Oakland.

A tablehopper reader let me know the former Las Palmas taqueria was gutted and it looked like something new was going on; Diablo Dish has the reveal: it’s going to be a pizzeria, ~JULE’S THIN CRUST~, “a great little pizzeria with a focus on seasonal ingredients and gluten-free crust options.” 5804 College Ave. at Oak Grove, Oakland.

Lastly, starting this Friday November 2nd, there will be a new late-night pop-up at ~HOPSCOTCH~ called Yonsei Ramen Shop. Swing by every Friday night from 11pm-2am, for either a meat or vegetarian ramen dish by Hopscotch chef Kyle Itani for $9. Bonuses: the full bar, and takeout is available. (Should be handy after Art Murmur on first Fridays.) 1915 San Pablo Ave. at 19th St., Oakland, 510-788-6217.