March 26, 2013

March 26, 2013

Gordon Drysdale. Photo by Ed Anderson.


Chef Edward Higgins.


Amber Dhara. Photo from Facebook.

A tipster alerted me to some changes with chef Gordon Drysdale’s level of involvement with the ~SWEETWATER MUSIC HALL~ in Mill Valley: he is transitioning to more of a consulting, as-needed relationship. Basically, they knew there would ultimately be a time when it wasn’t going to be financially feasible to keep Drysdale there full time. He says, “I looked at it as more of a long-term consulting gig.” While he’s still a partner, he’s going to be passing the bulk of the responsibility to his right-hand man, Francisco Contreras, who has been working with Drysdale the past 16 years (Drysdale raved about him: “what a palate!”). He will help with menus for parties and any other as-needed situations. Drysdale says, “I had a blast!” and is now considering some other projects and opportunities that will hopefully continue to fuse his love of food, art, and music—stand by to see what shakes out.

After we reported on the upcoming departure of Erik Lowe and the chef hunt at ~BIX~, chef-partner Bruce Hill gave me a call to inform me of their chef hire: Edward Higgins. You may remember his name in tablehopper: he was originally going to be opening his own restaurant called BAiA, but that fell through. He also recently consulted on The Bureau in Emeryville. Higgins has worked at Four Seasons Palo Alto, and with Marco Canora at Insieme and Hearth in New York, and with Canora and Tom Colicchio at Craft. Yeah, he has some serious chops. Look for his menu to be in place by the end of April or so.

Bernalwood mentions ~THE LIBERTY CAFE~ has a new chef: Chad Kaneshiro, previously at “Barracuda sushi in Mountain View, Kingfish in San Mateo, and Oryza Bistro Asiana in Santa Clara.” He has reportedly “spiced up the menu with healthier Asian-inspired appetizers and entrées while keeping the California-French cafe style Liberty has always been known for.” On the menu: uni flan, pickled beets and burrata, spring vegetable risotto, and yes, the chicken potpie. Here’s hoping he brings some quality control and steadiness to the restaurant—it’s been rocky over there. 410 Cortland Ave. at Wool, 415-695-8777.

There is also a new chef at ~AMBER DHARA~ on Valencia: Manish Tayagi (previously chef de cuisine at Rasika in Washington, D.C.). Inside Scoop mentions the menu and cocktails will be completely revamped, and prices will be lower. 680 Valencia St. at 18th St., 415-400-5699.


The exterior of the former Maharani. Yelp photo by Kevin Y.

Back in August, we announced the upcoming opening of ~BITTERS BOCK AND RYE~ in the former Maharani, which was originally slated for last October. Yeah, this is how things go in this town. Well, thanks to a friend in the neighborhood, I have learned the place is currently in soft-opening mode. There’s a full bar, with plans to brew beer on-site, and 12 to 18 beers on tap. To recap, the partners are Ron Kirkpatrick (Blur) and his wife Holly, along with Shannon Henne and Jon Boswell—they previously owned Tonic, and Tongue and Groove together.

The kitchen is just ramping up, but as we previously mentioned, chef Aaron Little’s menu will be highlighting Southern (specifically Texan) barbecue. The plan is to serve dinner late into the night (until 1am), along with an all-day weekend brunch until dinner service kicks in. This pic of the menu on Tenderlife currently reveals deviled eggs; sandwiches with barbecue brisket, chicken, and pulled pork; and sides. I didn’t hear back from owner Ron Kirkpatrick in time for confirmation on the business hours and a few other details; will update this post when we do. 1122 Post St. at Polk, 415-440-4490.


The bar at 20 Spot. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. ©

As previously reported in tablehopper, ~20 SPOT~ is bringing wine and small plates to the Mission. They’re all set to open this Friday March 29th, with a menu of small plates and snacks, plus more than 100 bottles of wine to choose from. Owners Bodhi Freedom (who owns Bacchus Wine Bar in Nob Hill) and Peter Goggin are offering an eclectic selection of wines from all over the world, with a focus on unusual flavor profiles. They’ll be open Sun-Mon and Wed 5:30pm-12am and Thu-Sat 5:30pm-1am. 3565 20th St. at Lexington, 415-624-3140.


The grilled chicken arepa at Pica Pica. Photo from Facebook.

As previously mentioned on tablehopper, ~PICA PICA MAIZE KITCHEN~ opened another arepa outlet here in the city, this time in the Castro. The new spot debuted on Saturday March 23rd, with their signature maize-wiches, arepas, and some new dishes as well. This time around, look for appetizers to share, like nachos Pica Pica and shrimp ceviche, and some larger dinner plates, like a pulled pork pernil platter (yeah, say that five times fast). Check out all the new (and classic) menu choices here. They’ll also be offering table service this time around, and beer and wine will be flowing just as soon as the liquor license is approved. In keeping with their mostly gluten-free menu, they’ll be serving gluten-free beer, plus wine, sangria, and some regular microbrews too. They’re open daily from 11:30am-11pm. 3970 17th St. at Market, 415-525-3359.

Things are shaping up for Francesco D’Ippolito’s casual Italian project we mentioned was opening in the former Dancing Pigs space: it’s going to be called ~DANTE’S TABLE~ and is currently looking at a mid-April opening. He has brought on artist John Baden to do some murals inside, including two profiles of Dante looking at each other. Another fun element (for those of you familiar with the Divine Comedy): they are dividing the three areas into Paradiso, Purgatorio, and Inferno. The back patio and garden will be Paradiso—but, like in life, it looks like we’ll have to wait for it to open a bit later. 544 Castro St. at 19th St.


The exterior of the upcoming Trattoria da Vittorio. Photo from Facebook.

According to the Scoop and a subsequent press release, sleepy West Portal has a new place for Italian food: ~TRATTORIA DA VITTORIO~. The new restaurant, which is taking the place of the former Café for All Seasons, comes from Vittorio D’Urzo, whose résumé includes Piazza D’Angelo in Mill Valley and Locanda Positano and Limone in San Carlos. The new restaurant’s menu will take inspiration from Calabria, where D’Urzo hails from, with housemade pastas, short ribs Genovese, and gnocchi, plus Neapolitan pizzas. Chef Filippo Cannone (Acquapazza) and pizzaiolo Antonio Luongo will run the kitchen, and most main dishes will run less than $25. They’re aiming for a late April opening and will be open daily for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. 150 West Portal Ave. at Vicente, 650-504-7976.


The latte at Trouble Coffee. Yelp photo by Rick B.


Coffee Cultures exterior. Photo from Facebook.

Giulietta Carrelli, the founder of the infinitely quirky ~TROUBLE COFFEE~ near Ocean Beach (which is celebrating its six-year anniversary) is opening a second location in Bayview on Monday April 1st. She didn’t have time to really talk, but mentioned a couple of new blends she’ll be serving: Dutz (coffee) and Honor (espresso). Hours will be Mon-Fri 7am-5pm. 1730 Yosemite Ave. at 3rd St.

There’s a new coffee kid in town, this time from Jason Paul (formerly of Coffee Bar in the Mission). His new location, called ~COFFEE CULTURES~, is set to open in the Financial District in early to mid-May. It will be the first spot in San Francisco with Counter Culture Coffee, a North Carolina roasting company. In addition to espresso and drip coffee, you’ll also find Straus yogurt with seasonal fruit and granola, banh mi sandwiches, salads, and oatmeal. They’re also installing a soft-serve frozen yogurt machine with two flavors (plus swirl, of course). Paul wants the space to have a well-defined aesthetic and has enlisted Chen Design Associates (the graphic design team behind Craftsman and Wolves) to make sure that the details of the space are well designed and beautifully executed. Good coffee plus good design? Fantastic. It will be open Mon-Fri 6am-6pm. 225 Bush St. at Montgomery, 415-788-7011.


Cassava. Photo: ©


The interior at Frances. Photo: ©

While at Taste of the Nation last week, I had a chance to catch up with chef-owner Melissa Perello, who informed me ~FRANCES~ will be temporarily closed from March 31st-April 8th. It will reopening with a new kitchen (they will be gutting the current one), plus there will be some changes to the décor, light fixtures, and colors (there will be a new ceramics installation).

Big congrats to ~LA FOLIE~, which turned 25 over the weekend. I raise my glass of Champagne to the Passots! 2316 Polk St. at Green, 415-776-5577.

So here’s a little more from chef Danny Bowien about the potential and rumored expansion of Mission Chinese Food to Paris. He was just interviewed while he was in Paris for the Omnivore food festival. Sounds like the plans are not in his immediate future (he isn’t locked on a place), but who knows, sometimes things happen out of the blue.

While dining at the ever-charming ~CASSAVA BAKERY + CAFE~ a couple of weeks ago, I learned they are expanding into the office space next door. Exciting! Demo has just started, so I’ll update you on timing later.

~CASTAGNA~ in the Marina suffered a fire on Saturday afternoon. Stand by for news about its reopening—some repairs will need to happen (firefighters reportedly had to open the restaurant ceiling). Thankfully no one was hurt. 2015 Chestnut St. at Fillmore, 415-440-4290.

Also nearby, ~THE GROVE~ on Chestnut will be closing in June. Inside Scoop mentions lease renewal issues; owner Kenneth Zankel is going to consider opening another location (he’s currently scouting Dogpatch, Mission Bay, and around the Embarcadero). 2250 Chestnut St. at Avila, 415-474-4843.


The bar at Florio. Photo from Facebook.

Attention Pac Heights residents and shoppers: ~FLORIO~ has started weekend brunch service, 11am-3pm. The menu includes pain perdu, a croque-monsieur or croque-madame, Niçoise salad, duck confit hash, and a grass-fed burger. Check out a pic of the menu here. 1915 Fillmore St. at Pine, 415-775-4300.

~SERPENTINE~ is staying open until 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Sweet.

And it looks like ~GALETTE 88~ is going to continue with its series of being open for dinner on first Thursdays, handy for nearby museumgoers. Next one: Thursday April 4th.


The interior at Dopo. Yelp photo by Miguel E.

Some local spots are offering menu specials and more for your culinary consideration. First, ~NOMBE~ is inviting you to get a posse of your friends together (six or more) and to come by on Thursday nights for Rediscover the Izakaya. For $25 (inclusive), you’ll be able to graze on a variety of Nombe’s yakitori, grilled pork belly, wings, and more, served family style. Check out the menu and purchase tickets online here; drinks can be purchased separately. 

Tax time got you down? Yeah, I feel ya. Starting Monday April 1st (no joke here), ~PRESIDIO SOCIAL CLUB~ will be launching Cocktails for Tax Relief, a deal on two house cocktails for $15. You can also get your beef on with the $15 steak frites. Through April 15th, available at the bar and on the back deck.

Chef Ben DeVries of ~LUELLA~ has put weekly Blue Plate Specials on the menu, like carnitas tacos on Monday ($18), pork bacon meat loaf on Tuesday ($20), chicken and ribs on Wednesday ($24), lobster and truffle fettuccine on Thursday ($28), bone-in rib-eye for two on Friday ($48), paella Valenciana on Saturday ($24), and Sundays are all about pork belly posole ($20). 1896 Hyde St. at Green, 415-674-4343.

Next time you swing by ~CITY BEER STORE~, you may notice some salumi plates on the menu, courtesy of ~1058 HOAGIE~. Look for a rotation of artisan salami and sausages, like finocchiona, Calabrese salami, and hard beef salami from Chicago. 1168 Folsom St. #101 at 8th St., 415-503-1033.

The folks at ~DOPO~ are doing Roman Tuesdays: for $30 per person (excluding tax and tip), you will feast on an artichoke alla giudia, the classic Roman pasta dish of tonnarelli cacio pepe, and a glass of cesanese. Benissimo. Through June 25th. 4293 Piedmont Ave. at Echo, 510-652-3676.


One of Chrissy’s Waffles. Photo courtesy Chrissy’s Waffles.


Rye-braised pork tacos from Tango & Stache. Photo from Facebook.

This Friday March 29th, catch some special bar eats at ~RYE~, where Chrissy’s Waffles will be popping up from 5:30pm-8:30pm. The waffle pop-up has become a standing Friday night event, called Waffles and Whiskey, and features a different waffle and whiskey cocktail each week. This week, look for a bacon doughnut waffle and the Crimp’s Buck, which is rye, ginger syrup, soda, and bitters. The waffle always costs $5, and the cocktail varies from $7-10. 688 Geary St. at Leavenworth, 415-474-4448.

If you plan it right, you can actually check out a bar pop-up just about every night of the week. Taco maven Tango & Stache pops up at ~BIG~ on Monday nights at 6pm, and at ~RYE~ on Wednesday nights at 5:30pm. Check Facebook and Twitter for each night’s menu; previous options include milk punch pork tostadas with cacao nib and fenugreek gremolata and a fried duck egg, and rye-braised pork shoulder with bacon fat and caraway tortillas and cabbage fennel slaw. Not too shabby at all. Nope. Big, 761 Post St. at Leavenworth, no phone.

Looking for some rockin’ cookies? Emily Luchetti, the pastry chef at ~WATERBAR~ and ~FARALLON~ has created a full lineup of Giants-inspired cookies that will be offered at a bake sale in front of Waterbar on Friday April 5th from 11am-3pm (or whenever they sell out). Cookie flavors include the classic Buster’s Chocolate Chunk, Matt’s Bourbon Old-Fashioned Pitcherdoodles, and a Cracker Jack-inspired snack, Bochy’s Peanut Popcorn Clusters. So get your baseball puns ready, and head on down. All cookie bags are $5, and proceeds go to Cookies for Kids Cancer.


The exhibition kitchen at M.Y. China. Photo courtesy M.Y. China.

The International Association of Culinary Professionals is holding its annual conference this year from April 6th-9th, and ~M.Y. CHINA~ will be hosting a party to celebrate, on Monday April 8th. The special dinner will benefit The Culinary Trust, the philanthropic foundation of the IACP founded by Julia Child. The evening will include lots of food served from demonstration stations, a live auction with items including a Chinatown tour with Martin Yan, and plenty to drink. Tickets are $125 and include all food and beverages. The event will run from 7pm-10pm.

On Saturday May 11th, catch the Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center’s annual Taste of Tel-Hi event. This year, the benefit dinner will include dishes from chefs Jennifer Puccio (Park Tavern), Rob Lam (Butterfly), and Martin Parra (Venticello Ristorante), plus plenty of wine, and a silent and live auction. The event runs from 5:30pm-9:30pm and tickets are $175 per person. Joe DiMaggio Playground, 651 Lombard St. at Mason.


Astaria. Yelp photo by Todd N.

Sunday March 31st will be ~ASTARIA~’s last day in San Mateo. Owners Alicia Petrakis and Eleni Lolas will be closing the restaurant (which is in the Benjamin Franklin Hotel) for a major remodel, with plans to reopen in June as a new place entirely: ~A3~. The new restaurant aims for a hipper, more urban vibe, with dishes intended for sharing and a full bar with a rooftop patio garden. Stand by for more details on a reopening date. I’ll always have a soft spot for the Benjamin Franklin Hotel—our family friend Freda used to work there (they don’t build them like her anymore), and I remember they had a machine that dispensed Shalimar in the ladies room (Freda was a BIG fan). 50 E. 3rd Ave. at S. San Mateo, 650-344-9444.

John Paul Carmona, the former chef de cuisine at Manresa, has thrown some fuel on the rumor fire with comments he made about opening a new place on the Peninsula. According to Grub Street, he talked about opening a new place in an undisclosed town in the 650 while cooking at the Pigs & Pinot event this weekend. No word on the location or much of the concept, only that it will be “a casual concept with high standards” and a cocktail bar will be attached.