March 12, 2013

March 12, 2013
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The dining room at Padrecito. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

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Communal tables at Padrecito. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

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The bar at Padrecito. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

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Bar area seating. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

A report by Dana Massey-Todd. As previously mentioned in tablehopper, the crew from Mamacita is opening ~PADRECITO~ in the former EOS space in Cole Valley. The team, which is also responsible for places like Tipsy Pig, Umami, and Blue Barn, includes Nate Valentine, Sam Josi, and Stryker Scales.

The new spot is quite large, with three different levels. On the main level is the dining room, which includes intimate booths for two, communal tables, and bistro-height tables. The second level, off to one side, accommodates the bar, and a mezzanine level upstairs has additional seating that will eventually be available for large groups and private parties.

The agave-focused bar program was developed by David Ruiz and features lots of tequila- and mezcal-based drinks (por supuesto), though gin and whiskey lovers will also be able to find something to love. The cocktail menu was illustrated by local artist Alyson Thomas and is pretty freaking cute too. The bar area is a fashionable take on a Mexican cantina, with rough-hewn wood (reclaimed, of course) and indigo walls with lots of black-and-white photographs and art objects on the wall. It seems like the sort of place where Diego Rivera might be equally likely start a fight or initiate an affair.

The dining room has very high ceilings and dramatic windows, which many will remember from the EOS days, and the height has been kept comfortable with natural-weave and punched-metal hanging lamps. The wall at the back of the bar is cut out, too, so diners can see the bottles through a faux window, which adds some nice dimension.

The menu, from head chef Luis Contreras (who is also a partner) is smaller and more focused than the one at Mamacita, and everything is housemade from scratch, including corn and flour tortillas and all of their salsas and sauces. Look for tacos served in pairs, enchiladas and chilaquiles, and an array of appetizers and sides, which will change with the seasonal availability of ingredients. As much of the restaurant’s produce as possible is coming from Oak Hill Farm in Glen Ellen (owned by Josi’s grandmother, adorable), and they’ve arranged for the farm to plant some special items just for them, so you’ll find some unusual vegetable choices on the menu, like crispy kale sprouts.

Padrecito is set to open on Tuesday March 12th (that’s today). They’ll be open Tue-Sun at 5:30pm and will likely stay open until 10:30pm, though that may change depending on how busy they are late at night. They are also hoping to add brunch and lunch in the future, so stay tuned. 901 Cole St. at Carl, 415-742-5505.

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The horseshoe bar (and big buoy light). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The bar at night. Photo courtesy of Hard Water.

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Shelves o’ whiskey. Photo courtesy of Hard Water.

On Friday evening I had a chance to check out ~HARD WATER~, Charles Phan’s new bar and kitchen at Pier 3 that is opening Thursday March 14th. (Every time I mentioned it to someone this past weekend, I had to say the name in my best Don LaFontaine voice, as if I were announcing an action flick: HARD WATER.) The space (designed by Olle Lundberg) is actually not that large—just 1,300 square feet—and pretty spare. It’s all about the horseshoe marble-topped bar at the center—surrounded by wood-topped stools—and a massive, barnacle-encrusted buoy that was cut in half and turned into an overhead light. There are also some marble high-top tables and counters around the periphery of the space.

The most eye-catching feature is the back-lit wall lined with rare and historic whiskeys that will quietly beckon you to open your wallet and whip out your credit card (although some are not for sale, sorry). Bar director Erik Adkins has been collecting out-of-production, rare, and allocated whiskeys for the past 10 years, and so now here’s the result from all that bourbon bunkering. You’ll have more than 150 American whiskeys to try in all, whew.

Although it’s cool to turn people on to Rittenhouse 21, 23, and 25 years, there are also some barrels that have been recently acquired for the bar, from 9- and 10-year barrels of Willett to Buffalo Trace Weller 107, plus barrel-strength Four Roses, and Heaven Hill Elijah Craig 12 year (which is also non-chill filtered, for you bourbon geeks). There are six to eight cocktails (with American whiskey as their base), like the à la Louisiane and the Dixie. Behind the stick, you’ll also see Joel Baker full time, and some shifts by bartenders like Jennifer Colliau and Ethan Terry.

I was happy to see chef de cuisine Melissa Perfit in the open kitchen, who some of you may recognize from Hog Island and Bar Crudo. The New Orleans-inspired menu is full of bar- (and bourbon-) friendly bites, like cornmeal-crusted alligator and stuffed artichoke, plus larger dishes like seafood gumbo, fried chicken, smothered pork shank, and okra étouffée (peek at the menu and pricing here). There’s also a raw bar, with crab, shrimp, oysters, and Louisiana crawfish. Don’t feel like having a whiskey? (I hope you get that figured out soon.) Check out the wine list from Chaylee Priete, which includes some local wines by the glass from Scholium Project, Wind Gap, and Tendu.

Hours to start are lunch daily 11:30am-2:30pm and dinner 5:30pm-midnight (subject to change in opening weeks). There is also going to be a takeout window, and some seating outside too. The place looks smart in the daylight, and I can see it getting totally packed as a popular after-work destination (and yet with all those hard surfaces, I wonder how loud it’s going to be—but hey, that’s how it goes at HARD WATER). Pier 3, The Embarcadero at Washington, 415-392-3021.

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Stone pot noodles, roasted onion purée, Surryano ham, crispy anchovies, egg yolk. Photo from Hutong.

Right on schedule, the transition from Betelnut to ~HUTONG~ has happened after a one-week closure, with the restaurant opening last night (Monday) for its first dinner service. As mentioned previously, the new “back alley” look (hutong means “alley”) includes wall treatments with layers of paper, newspaper, posters, and clippings, and the awning has “HUTONG” in big graffiti letters. (Don’t worry, Cow Hollow denizens: The restaurant is not a skate shop.)

Last week, we ran a teaser of some items on chef Alex Ong’s menu. Well, now you can peek at the menu in its entirety. Knowing how much chef Ong likes to play with spice and sweet and sour (and texture), just reading the menu makes my stomach rumble.

Remember that lunch will be discontinued from Mon-Thu and will just be served Fri-Sat. New hours are Mon-Thur 5pm-10pm (bar opens at 4pm), Fri-Sat 11:30am-11pm, Sun 11:30am-10pm. 2030 Union St. at Buchanan, 415-929-8855.

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The cover of Richard Blais’ new cookbook.

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Al’s Beef: that dirty beef was ordered wet, hot, and sweet. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

A tipster let me know that chef Richard Blais (of Top Chef fame, and currently touring his first cookbook, Try This at Home: Recipes from My Head to Your Plate) is going to be opening a new restaurant in the Bay Area sometime in the not-too-distant future. He is currently house hunting as well, so it sounds like a move from Atlanta is in the cards. Stay tuned for details about the restaurant and more.

Another import: I heard something about the famous ~AL’S BEEF~ in Chicago is coming to the Bay Area, starting with a location in San Jose. I haven’t been able to get confirmation from anyone at Al’s, so stand by. Let’s call this “Chicago beef watch.”

I almost can’t believe this news in the Bay Area Reporter that ~THE PATIO~ in the Castro may finally reopen after all. Sounds like owner Les Natali is trying to resolve some conditional use permit issues—and if all goes well, it may reopen this summer. Time will tell. 531 Castro St. at 18th St.

One more rumor: Seems ~MISSION BEACH CAFE~ had to unexpectedly close on Sunday, leaving the brunch-seeking masses confused by the sign on the door that said “closed until further notice.” No worries, however: Things are sorted and MBC was back open for business as usual yesterday.

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Toast and a latte from Acre. Photo courtesy Acre.

Petaluma’s ~ACRE COFFEE~ has expanded into San Francisco with a location in the Public Utility Commission building in the Civic Center, providing workers and tourists in the area with a new option for Four Barrel coffee, breakfast, and lunch. For breakfast, look for granola and pastries, and for lunch, you’ll find sandwiches, salads, and soups that change seasonally. Take a look at the full lunch menu here. They’re open Mon-Fri 7am-4pm. 525 Golden Gate Ave. at Polk, 415-431-4421.

FiDi sushi lunch spot ~SUSHIRRITO~ is getting ready to open their third downtown location. That’s right: MORE SUSHI BURRITOS. The new spot will take over the former Sawaii Sushi location on Kearny and will offer the same menu as the two current locations (Gi Paoletti Design Lab is also behind all of the locations’ look and design). They’ve got a beer and wine license this time around, too, so they’ll have a few additional beverage choices, including sake. There is still some permitting to get through, and they’re currently aiming for an early to mid-April opening. When they do open, their hours will be Mon-Thu 11am-4pm and Fri-Sat 11am-7pm. 226 Kearny St. at Sutter, 415-544-9868.

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The dining room at Tommy Toy’s. Photo from Facebook.

After a commendable 27-year run, ~TOMMY TOY’S~ will be closing on Saturday March 30th, according to Scoop. People can call the room and dining style dated, but I actually wish someone with some kick-ass Chinese chops would take it over and rock it. The opulent and over-the-top dining room was beautiful—I’d love to still be able to go to a banquet dinner in there. The food may have slipped over the years, but the room is so fabulous that I’m sorry to see this old-timer go. I swear, if I had some money… 655 Montgomery St. at Merchant.

Another old-timer is leaving the scene: ~HAIG’S DELICACIES~, the awesome Mediterranean market on Clement Street that had a 57-year run. Such a bummer. You can read a note from the owners here on The Richmond blog. Their wholesale business will continue, so you’ll still be able to buy some of their products at stores in the Bay Area. 642 Clement St. at 8th Ave.

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Tres leches cupcakes from La Luna. Photo from Facebook.

Those ~LA COCINA~ alums just don’t quit: Elvia Buendia of ~LA LUNA CUPCAKES~ is opening a brick-and-mortar location in the Crocker Galleria on Thursday March 21st. She’ll be serving her sweet and savory cupcakes, from carrot cake cupcakes to savory ones, like bacon and eggs, and beef with cheese and salsa. (Interesante.) Open Mon-Fri 8am-6pm and Sat 9am-5pm. 50 Post St., Level 1, Store 10, at Montgomery, 510-904-2864.

There’s a new consulting chef at ~HAYES VALLEY BAKEWORKS~: Jon Helquist, an alum from Chez Panisse, Manzanita, and Seghesio Family Vineyards. Look for a new array of upgraded salads, sandwiches (like the fried chicken sandwich with smoked paprika mayo, arugula, provolone, and pickled onions), soups (like black bean chili with cheddar corn bread croutons), and pizzas. And don’t forget, HVB is a project of Toolworks, a San Francisco nonprofit that has created employment opportunities for thousands of individuals with disabilities since 1975. Open Mon-Fri 7am-7pm, Sat 8am-5pm. 550 Gough St. at Fulton, 415-864-2688.

Permits reveal an Indian restaurant will be taking over the former Kan Zaman in the Upper Haight; the name on the license is ~GREAT INDIAN FOOD~, let’s hope it lives up to its name. 1793 Haight St. at Shrader.

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Front room at Maverick. Photo from Facebook.

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Boris Portnoy at work. Facebook photo by Tyler Gourley.

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Pig’s head, Brussels sprouts, grapefruit, mint, and peanuts at a Liholiho Yacht Club dinner. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Boris Portnoy of ~SATELLITE REPUBLIC~ will be popping up again in Oakland at ~THE PUNCHDOWN WINE BAR~, with his fabulous Georgian food. On Saturday March 16th, he’ll be serving a nine-course family-style dinner for $50 per person (seriously, you better come hungry). Wine pairings will be available as well, and reservations are available from 5:30pm-10pm. Then, on Sunday March 17th, catch a five-course, Supra-style feast. Supra refers to a traditional Georgian feast with a designated toastmaster, who leads diners in toasting before each course (start practicing now). The meal will include the toasting, and costs $90 per person, including wine pairings. Reservations can be made for 5pm. 2212 Broadway at West Grand, Oakland.

Ravi Kapur’s pop-up, ~LIHOLIHO YACHT CLUB~, is returning for two nights to ~STATE BIRD PROVISIONS~. He’ll be serving dinner Sunday March 17th and Sunday March 24th, and reservations can be made here. Right now, there aren’t any reservations left, but you can check back for cancellations or get on the waiting list by sending an email. (Following them on Twitter is another way to score seats.) Take a look at the evening’s menu in progress here. Kapur also sent word that he is still in the process of looking for a brick-and-mortar space in the Mission, so stay tuned for more information on that hopeful quest. (Help a brother out?)

Embark on an exciting culinary adventure at ~MAVERICK~ on April Fools’ Day (that would be Monday April 1st) with Mystery Night. You pick your meal via a mysterious letter, and then competitively guess the ingredients based on the accuracy of your palate. Each correct guess wins points, and at the end of the evening the winners take home prizes. There’s a bonus wine round too: If you can guess the varietal of the optional wine pairing correctly, that means even more points. The dinner costs $45 per person, plus an additional $15 for wine pairings. Multiple seatings will be available between 5:30pm-10:30pm; call the restaurant at 415-863-3061 for reservations and details.

Say formaggio! Join ~PICCINO~ for an evening of Italian wine and cheese on Monday March 18th. Andy Lax from Fresca Italia cheese importers will be there, sharing tastes of three different cheeses, plus a three-course dinner featuring one cheese per course. Each of the dishes will also be paired with Italian wine. The dinner begins at 6:30pm and costs $95 per person, including wine pairings. Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant.

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The dining room at Ajanta. Facebook photo by Marty Snortum.

Tuesday March 19th is Italian Father’s Day (La Festa di San Giuseppe), and to celebrate, ~PALIO D’ASTI~ is serving a feast worthy of a serious papa bear. The meal will be served family style, with antipasti, three types of risotto, four entrées, and Sicilian cheesecake for dessert. The dinner is $55 per person, excluding beverages, tax, and tip. Children under 13 pay the dollar equivalent of their age. Reservations are available from 5pm-9pm and can be made by calling the restaurant.

Looking for a serious Indian feast? Grab some hungry friends and head to the delicious and delightful ~AJANTA~ in Berkeley to try their new chef’s tasting menu. The menu, which is available every night from 5:30pm-9:30pm, includes three appetizers, four main dishes, and sides of rice, naan, pickles, and chutney, plus your choice of dessert. All that food is only $27 per person ($24 for a vegetarian option), and wine and beer are available for an additional cost.

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Fish at Yuubi. Photo from Facebook.

Tired of all the mid-level sushi restaurants in this town selling unsustainable seafood? Yeah, me too, which is why this is pretty cool: Carrotmob is working with ~YUUBI JAPANESE RESTAURANT~ to demonstrate that sustainable seafood is important to local consumers. Here’s the deal: Yuubi is interested in sustainable seafood, but they aren’t sure that consumers will pay more for it. So Carrotmob has stepped in and, for the next three weeks, the restaurant wil be serving sustainable fish.

You can purchase a $30 voucher through Carrotmob in the next three weeks, and use it anytime you like. For every voucher purchased, 40 percent will go toward helping Yuubi develop a more ocean-friendly kitchen. The hope is that consumers will use their money to show that sustainable options really matter. (There’s also something about $1.00 sakes if you like Yuubi’s Facebook page.) You can read more information about the campaign, and help support a local business in the process! 501 Balboa St. at 6th Ave., 415-386-2011.

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On Wednesday April 3rd, catch Daniel Humm and Will Guidara of New York’s Eleven Madison Park at the JCCSF. The event is called Eleven Madison Park Loves New York and offers an inside look at the restaurant and their new book, I Love New York: Ingredients and Recipes. James Oseland, the editor of Saveur, will be on hand too. The event begins at 7pm and also includes a snack from chef Humm and wines from Shoe Shine Wine. Tickets are $25 for the general public, $20 for JCCSF members, and $15 for students. 3200 California St. at Presidio.

On Wednesday March 20th, head to ~OMNIVORE BOOKS~ for an event with Elissa Altman, author of Poor Man’s Feast: A Love Story of Comfort, Desire, and the Art of Simple Cooking. From 6pm-7pm, you can hear the New York native talk about her journey from a lover of fancy food to an appreciator of simpler fare. The event will include a book signing and is free.

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The Cubano at Carriage House. Yelp photo by Jon D.

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La Fable. Photo from Facebook.

In Old Oakland, the folks at ~DISTRICT~ have opened a to-go lunch outlet at their current location, called District Carriage House. The menu has soups like clam chowder and a seasonal vegetable choice, a variety of sandwiches including a Cubano and a burger, and pizza. They’re open Mon-Fri 11am-1:30pm, and orders can be placed by phone or in person. 827 Washington St. at 9th St. (entrance on 9th), Oakland, 510-452-0031.

~LUNGOMARE~ in Jack London Square is now serving weekend brunch. Add in the view and adult beverages, and you are set. Brunch Sat-Sun 9am-3pm. 1 Broadway at Water, Oakland, 510-444-7171. 

Also in the neighborhood, the new exec chef at ~BOCANOVA~ has been announced: John Jackson. 55 Webster St. at 1st St., Oakland, 510-444-1233.

Berkeleyside notes ~LA FABLE~ (start practicing your French accent when you say it) has opened in the former Chester’s Bayview Café space. Sounds like it’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with room for 30 plus an outdoor patio and a deck with bay views. 1508 Walnut St. at Vine, Berkeley, 510-849-9995.

Last week I wrote about the upcoming Next Door restaurant. Also coming to the neighborhood is ~EASY CREOLE~ by Grant Gooding, Jess McCarter, and Jeron Thomson. It started (and continues to exist) as a pop-up restaurant in San Francisco at The Residence in the Castro. Due to their success as a pop-up, they were able scrounge up enough pennies to soon open up a brick-and-mortar space in the former Ming’s Chinese Kitchen in Berkeley. The menu will feature a rotating array of New Orleans staples such as jambalaya, shrimp Creole, and red beans with rice, along with new creations like sweet vegan gumbo, spinach-mushroom étouffée, and Red Stripe jerk. They will soon be open (in about a month or so) for lunch and dinner. 1761 Alcatraz at Ellis, Berkeley.

And as previously mentioned on tablehopper, new owners of the previous Boilerhouse restaurant were opening ~ASSEMBLE~ in its place. According to Berkeleyside, they are now open for lunch Mon-Sat 11:30am-2:30pm. Menu items include a cheesesteak, muffaletta, and fish and chips. Dinner is coming soon. 1414 Harbour Way South at Cutting, Richmond, 510-215-6025. 

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