October 29, 2013

October 29, 2013
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The back of the dining room, looking into the semi-open kitchen. Photo courtesy of Urban Daddy, by Michael David Rose Photography.

Details are a bit slim on this one, but ~NICO~ is now softly open in Laurel Heights. We originally broke the story in July 2012, so it’s been a long time coming. To recap: the operators are Nicolas and Andrea Delaroque; French-born Nicolas has worked at Manresa, Atelier Crenn, and Coi, in addition to some time at the more casual Le Garage in Sausalito and L’Appart in San Anselmo.

When we originally spoke, the cuisine was going to be contemporary Cal-French, featuring local, seasonal, and foraged ingredients and modern cooking techniques. According to their Facebook page, they also have planters on site to grow vegetables. Looking at the pics by Urban Daddy, the intimate space is full of wood, stylish but casual (no tablecloths), with a small pewter bar at the front and a mohair banquette along the wall. Sounds like the wine program is of note as well. Soft open for dinner Tue-Sat 5:30pm-10:30pm. We’ll post a menu here once/if they get back to us. 3228 Sacramento St. at Lyon, 415-359-1000.

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A quick drive-by pic of Ala Romana.

My Nob Hill pal let me know that ~ALA ROMANA~ (trust me, I know it should be “alla”) is now softly open (as of last night). As we mentioned earlier, the enoteca and pizzeria is opening in the former Rue Saint Jacques location by Lorenzo Logoreci of nearby Allegro Romano. Scoop reported the chef is David Taylor (previously A16). A look at his Roman-inspired menu (now live, and in desperate need of proofreading) includes a variety of antipasti (salads, tripe, $6-$16), pizza (four kinds, $14-$16), pasta (like squid ink tonnarelli with fennel, tomato, Calabrian chile, and sea urchin, $19), and main dishes, like braised rabbit ($26) and chicken al mattone ($22). Open Sun-Thu 5:30pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm; brunch and lunch coming soon. 1098 Jackson St. at Taylor, 415-292-3699.

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Front room at Maverick. Photo from Facebook.

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Kronnerburger. Photo via Facebook.

Last Friday October 25th, ~MAVERICK~ tragically suffered a major fire, and it looks like it’s going to be awhile until they can get back on their feet. SF Appeal reports there are an estimated $400,000 in damages. Best wishes to the team (and the renters upstairs)—fortunately no one was hurt.

Also in the Mission: I received word from Chris Kronner last week that he’s wrapping up his ~KRONNERBURGER~ pop-up at Bruno’s (gosh darn it!), serving his last burger there on November 22nd. The reason? He’s about 95 percent locked on a permanent Oakland location (which he tells me is off Piedmont Avenue), so it’s time to close up shop. What this means is you better get your Kronnerburger on while you can, although he does seem to hold pop-ups around town here and there, so don’t fret. Open Sun-Fri for dinner, 6pm-late. 2379 Mission St. at 20th St., 415-656-9871.

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The current layout of Mezzé. Photo via Yelp by david d.

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A sample Shakewell dish: albondigas in sofrito and aged sherry wine. Photo courtesy of Jen Biesty.

After a successful Kickstarter and fundraising, chef Jen Biesty and pastry chef Tim Nugent are ready to announce the location of their upcoming ~SHAKEWELL BAR & KITCHEN~ project: it will be opening in the Mezzé space on Lakeshore in Oakland. The casual restaurant will be a spacious one, with 80 seats (there will be 16 at the curved bar, plus more bar-like seating in the window, and 58 seats in the dining areas). Bon Vivants Design (Trick Dog) is designing the space, which will feature Douglas fir flooring, polished concrete, and they are looking at stone-topped tables of travertine (these are a maybe). When you walk into the space, there will be a raised level that’s one step up with two communal tables, which will have a lively vibe. There will be a more intimate dining area, plus a chef’s table and banquette in the back. Overall, it will feel airy and open (there are already high ceilings and skylights), and they are revamping the wood-burning oven—it will have more of a Moroccan look.

The menu (here’s a sample of what Biesty has been cooking lately at private events) will be Mediterranean in spirit, spanning the Iberian Peninsula, with seasonal and local ingredients (think albondigas, Monterey sardine toast, and calamari with spiced ceci beans, tomato, and preserved lemon)—they’re calling it “Americlectic.” There will also be a paella that serves two that will be coming out of the wood oven, plus a flatbread that will change often (Biesty’s working on a chickpea flour dough at the moment). Dishes will be affordable, and the dining experience is meant to be shared and fun—they want it to be the kind of place you can swing by often. There will also be a full bar and wine on tap. The plan is to start construction on December 1st, and they’re targeting a March 2014 opening. 3407 Lakeshore Ave. at Trestle Glen.

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The new Four Barrel building in Portola. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The beautiful curved wood ceiling. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The coffee cart inside. Photo courtesy of Jeremy Tooker.

Last week I trucked over to Portola to check out the new ~FOUR BARREL COFFEE~ location that just opened over the weekend (in case you’re wondering where that is, it’s near the Silver Avenue exit off the 101). It’s a cool location that’s a cul-de-sac of sorts (the street, Burrows, abuts the freeway). Owner Jeremy Tooker was approached by the Portola (say “PORT-oh-lah”—Tooker was quickly schooled on the preferred pronunciation) neighborhood association to open the café, and he has a lot of plans for the space, including putting solar panels on the roof, installing a compost toilet, and eventually hopes to get off the grid completely. (He also wants to do a big cleanup of the area flanking the building, but needs Caltrans on board first.)

The garage-like space is pretty industrial, except for the eye-catching ceiling (by Roman Hunt) made from curved pieces of wood reclaimed from an old pipeline that transported water from Hetch Hetchy to turbines—the tree trunk-like circular pattern is quite beautiful. Lawrence LaBianca did some cool metalwork, like the sliding screen inside and the greenhouse-like awning. Since the area was a greenhouse district, look for some design references in the future.

For now, the café has temporary carts for the espresso machine inside, and there’s a pour-over bar and coffee brewer. There are some standing bars with a few seats inside; outdoor seating will be coming soon (there’s a little outdoor park in development, and there will be sidewalk seating). There will be pastries from Neighbor to start as well. Hours are 7am-4pm daily. 1 Burrows St. at San Bruno.

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The new Henry’s Hunan location in North Beach. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Bloody Mary at Pesce, with basil, Calabrese chile, capers, and an herbed salt rim. Photo via Facebook.

Over at ~WAIHEKE ISLAND YACHT CLUB~, the team has moved into a post-America’s Cup phase, with new seasonal menus from chef Hayden McMillan and a new wine list that includes selections from New Zealand (they were previously limited to only serving wines from Napa Valley). Check out the new à la carte menu and tasting menus (five and seven courses). Pier 29, 1256 The Embarcadero, 415-956-1048.

Strolling through North Beach Sunday night, I took a look at the new location of ~HENRY’S HUNAN~ (the first one opened in SF in 1974!), which means Marty’s special can be yours. Open daily 11am-9:30pm. 1398 Grant Ave. at Green, 415-765-0998.

A tipster writes in: “Stefano at 59 30th has a new name on its awnings: ~BERNAL HEIGHTS PIZZERIA~. It will compete with the thoroughly mediocre Pizza Express on Cortland, the unmentionable Pizza Hut on Mission, and the mixed-bag Giovanni’s further up Mission at Crescent.” Love tips with sassy editorial. Open Sun-Thu 10:30am-11pm, Fri-Sat 10am-12am. 59 30th St. at San Jose, 415-400-5644.

The Castro Biscuit mentioned ~EUREKA!~ café has opened, serving Blue Bottle Coffee and pastries (and ice cream). 451 Castro St. at 17th St., 415-355-9110.

Also noted in the Biscuit: ~PESCE~ has started weekend brunch, Sat-Sun 10am-3pm. That full bar will come in handy. 2223 Market St. at Sanchez, 415-928-8025.

Meanwhile, the former Pesce location on Polk has morphed into ~UNO DOS TACOS~, a pop-up taco shop from Adriano Paganini (Uno Dos will be opening permanently in the former Sellers Market downtown). Look for tacos during the day for now, and a full-on Mexican restaurant will soon be launching at night (the chef is from Guadalajara) with a full bar (via Urban Daddy). 2227 Polk St. at Green, 415-525-4116.

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Executive chef Parke Ulrich (photo courtesy of EPIC Roasthouse).

A couple of quick notes about some chef changes around town: the PR team for ~EPIC ROASTHOUSE~ announced Parke Ulrich is the new executive chef (he also oversees Waterbar), working with chef de cuisine Eric Hollis. A new menu is scheduled to launch on Friday November 1st, featuring more cuts of meat from local Bay Area producers; all steaks will be prime. Look for some international influence as well, like Kobe-style steak sourced from Japan.

Meanwhile, over at ~GITANE~, chef Bridget Batson is leaving the stoves (her husband and co-chef, Patrick Kelly, will now run the kitchen solo) and Batson is joining the team at Munchery, a start-up meal delivery service. Scoop also reports Alicia Jenish from Grand Cafe will be in the new corporate chef role for Franck LeClerc’s restaurant group (the upcoming Gaspar, Gitane, both Café Claude locations, and Claudine).

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Sarah Burchard and Spencer O’Meara of S&S in the kitchen. Photo by Iann Ivy via Facebook.

Chefs Spencer O’Meara and Sarah Buchard are back with their pop-up S&S Shack at ~MISSION ROCK RESORT~ on Tuesday November 12th at 6pm. This time, they are focusing on the food they grew up eating, so think fried chicken, green bean casserole, and deviled eggs; peek at the hunger-inducing menu here. Tickets are $45, not including tip or beverages. 817 Terry Francois Blvd. at Illinois, 415-701-7625.

This is pretty cool: ~THE BLIND CAFÉ~ is popping up Thu-Sat November 7th-9th at The Center. Here’s the deal: the dinner starts at 6:30pm each evening, and the waitstaff is made up entirely of blind people. The dinner (which is a vegetarian menu) takes place in the dark (you may want to wear dark clothes in case you have some dining mishaps, haha), with the blind leading guests in a sensory experience totally outside of sight—including live music. Tickets are a sliding scale of $65-$150, and all proceeds benefit The California Association of Blind Students. 548 Fillmore St. at Fell, 720-495-7797.

Popping up again on Saturday November 9th at ~NAKED KITCHEN~ in the Mission will be chef Val M. Cantu, creator of Californios (he cooked at Uchi in Austin and was a sous at Sons & Daughters). The modern Mexican menu will be nine courses and limited to 10 diners seated around the chef’s table. Tickets for the 6pm and 9pm seatings are $97, not including gratuity. BYOB.

A couple of ongoing pop-ups: Haighteration announced Chaparral is now serving dinner Thu-Sat at ~KATE’S KITCHEN~ in the Lower Haight. The pop-up is from Thomas Martinez (Mission Beach Cafe), and a sample menu includes msemmen (a Moroccan crêpe), sunchokes and squid, wild salmon, and more. Bonus: there’s a late-night menu Fri-Sat. BYOB for now. Open Thu 6pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 6pm-2am. 471 Haight St. at Fillmore, 415-793-9016.

There’s also the new Kinfolk (no relationship to the magazine) from chef Greg Lutes, popping up at Bernal’s ~903 CORTLAND~ Thu-Sat nights since owner Mutsumi Takehara has discontinued dinner for now (via Scoop). 903 Cortland Ave. at Gates.

Here’s a new Oakland pop-up for your radar, from Carlos Nieto. It’s called ~MIXTO~, and it’s happening at Nido three different Sundays: November 10th, December 8th, and January 12th. Each evening, a different chef will take the helm, focusing on the cuisine of a particular region and highlighting a ceviche. Each dinner is four courses and includes wine pairings. First up is chef Tim Luym (of The Attic), who will be exploring the connection between Latin and Filipino cuisine; take a look at his menu and pairings here. The events runs from 7pm-10pm and tickets are $85, including pairings, tax, tip, and you even get a soundtrack to take home. 444 Oak St at 4th St., Oakland.

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Town Hall exterior; photo from Town Hall.

Congrats to ~FIREFLY~ on their 20th anniversary, which they will be celebrating this week by offering special menus through Tuesday November 5th (the actual anniversary is Sunday November 3rd, when the menu will go down to its original prices, and they will have live music). Call for reservations and info at 415-821-7652. 4288 24th St. at Douglass.

~TOWN HALL~ is celebrating their 10th anniversary this year (congratulations!) and throwing a big feast and party on Tuesday November 12th. From 6pm-10pm, join them for a serious spread of Southern food not only from chef Max Hosey, but also including selections from guest chefs from other Southern-influenced restaurants, including Charles Phan and Melissa Perfit (Hard Water), Scott Youkilis and Robin Song (Hi Lo), David Lawrence (1300 on Fillmore), Tanya Holland and Phil Surkis (Brown Sugar Kitchen), and Sophina Uong and Michael LeBlanc (Pican). Take a peek at what they’re serving right here. There will also be drink specials and live music, so get ready to party down like it’s 2003. Tickets are $75 and proceeds benefit CUESA.

~POGGIO~ has been celebrating its 10-year anniversary with a variety of dinners and special nights. Coming up on October 30th, Cindy Pawlcyn will bring her barbecue to Poggio, and there will be a couple of more dinners, leading up to a special truffle dinner on Thursday November 14th, when the restaurant will segue into its annual Festa di Tartufo, offering a special truffle menu. Read about all the events here.

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Boudin blanc at Box & Bells (photo via Instagram by James Syhabout).

After weeks of people wondering when ~BOX & BELLS~ was going to open, this past weekend, James Syhabout (Commis, Hawker Fare) announced the opening is this Wednesday October 30th. To recap, the Rockridge restaurant is opening in the former Somerset on College Avenue, and Syhabout’s partner is Alan Carlson of Italian Colors in Montclair, with Benjamin Coe (Commis) leading the kitchen. The restaurant bills itself as an “eating house,” and Syhabout has been posting some menu teases via his Instagram page, like some seriously zhooshed deviled eggs, country pork pâté, boudin blanc with sauerkraut and brandied apples, and prime beef with age. Some pics of pastry chef Joshua Meisman’s creations include a chocolate tart and a fennel and pear crisp. It’s going to be open late, with cocktails to boot. Yup, this one is poised to be an industry hit. Dinner Wed-Sun. 5912 College Ave. at Chabot, Oakland.

Diablo Dish reports ~FUSEBOX~ in West Oakland is not serving lunch for the moment; dinner is served Wed-Sat 6:30pm-9pm, and there’s happy hour from 3:30pm-5:30pm.

A quick bite: ~EUREKA!~ opened in Berkeley, a casual spot serving burgers and American craft beers. There’s a full bar, and according to the pic on Berkeleyside Nosh, it looks like there are plenty of TVs to watch sports too. 2068 Center St. at Shattuck, 510-809-8282.

And since everyone is wondering when the fabulous ~GREAT CHINA~ is reopening, the latest I am hearing is Monday November 11th (Veteran’s Day). Stand by! Double skin, we’re coming for ya. 2190 Bancroft Way at Fulton, Berkeley.

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The new look at Gusto; photo via Facebook.

Last week, owner Enzo Rosano of ~LOCANDA POSITANO~ and ~LIMONE~ in San Carlos sent out a teaser email about his plans to bring on chef George Morrone for a project. It ends up Rosano has turned Limone into ~GUSTO~, and starting Tuesday November 5th, will be serving “sophisticated small plates” like Morrone’s famed tuna tartare, lobster corn dogs, and other dishes ranging from $4-$8 for snacks and $8-$18 for small plates. (Morrone will continue to consult at the Corinthian Yacht Club in Tiburon.) The space is getting quite an update, with chandeliers and a black-and-white theme that includes black velvet-backed wooden chairs and a tufted white upholstered banquette (ooh, molto chic). 619 Laurel St. San Carlos, 650-486-1479.