January 14, 2014

January 14, 2014
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Mitsunori Kusakabe (while at Sushi Ran). Flickr photo by Gina Collecchia/The Intrepid Traveler.

Now that Mitsunori “Nori” Kusakabe (previously at Sushi Ran) has taken possession of the former Machka in the Financial District, I was able to get some more details about his plans for the location, called ~KUSAKABE~. GM Daisuke Miyake let me know they are targeting early March for the opening. The menu will be based on a kaiseki format, which will include sushi and other dishes. The prix-fixe menu will range somewhere in the $85-$100 range, and there is also discussion of offering an omakase sushi menu as well.

The space is small: it will have 30 seats, with 15 at the sushi bar, which will be the focus of the space. I spoke with Shaum Mehra of ArcHive, who is behind the interior and building; his design partner is Sepideh Majidi, and they are collaborating with the architect, Fumio Suda. Mehra mentioned the space is going to be elegant and have some drama, and will blend the ancient and the modern. When you walk in, it will feel like you are walking through an alley in Kyoto, with dark reclaimed woods, while the sushi bar and small seating area will contrast with lighter woods. Mehra said they want to create some mystery in the tight space, while keeping things clean and simple, and there will be lots of wood details.

I’ll have another update for you as the opening gets closer. 584 Washington St. at Columbus.

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A special of jerk chicken tacos at CDXX. Photo from Facebook.

In Bayview, there’s a new restaurant to check out called ~CDXX~ from owners Fletcher Starkey and Roshani Patel, who previously ran catering company Elevate Cuisine. Starkey informed us they offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with a meaty menu that includes steak frites, baby back ribs, a grass-fed burger, and a chile verde platter. Vegetarians can find plenty to love, too, with a vegan burger patty option, a curry bowl, and lots of seasonal salads. At breakfast, check out the breakfast burrito or one of their pastries, including a croughnut covered in cinnamon and sugar. There’s also a more extensive brunch menu available on Sunday (hi, bacon and blueberry pancakes) with bottomless mimosas; take a look at all the menus here. Hours are Tue-Fri 6am-8pm, Sat 11:30am-9pm, and Sun 9am-3pm. Closed Mon. 5800 3rd St. at Carroll, 415-652-5450.

Eater reports that Adam Chamsine, the owner of Hayes Valley’s Mazzat has opened a new Lebanese restaurant called ~MAZZA LUNA~. The new spot aims for a more upscale environment that Mazzat, with a lounge vibe and small plates, wine, and beer. The dinner menu offers a variety of small plates, ranging from falafel and hummus to heartier choices like kibbeh meatballs. There is also a selection of pita pizzas and salads. They’re open for lunch, too, with sandwiches, soup, and salads; here’s the menu. Hours are daily 11am-2:30pm for lunch, Sun-Thu 5pm-10pm, and Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm. 810 Van Ness Ave. at Eddy, 415-829-2730.

It looks like there’s another pair of chefs at Excelsior dive bar ~BROKEN RECORD~. As you may recall, James Moisey and Shane LaValley left in 2012 to open Rickybobby, and Mark Furr was brought on to run the kitchen. Well, now Eater reports that Furr has left and the space has been taken over by Margo Cristein and Annie Wood of The Vine in Fremont. The pair, who have long been fans of the bar, have brought back some of the menu’s classics, including the sweet potato tots. You’ll also find turkey legs, pulled pork sandwiches, and egg dishes at brunch. They’ve also renamed the kitchen ~HOOD GRUB~, with a new sign arriving next week. Hours are Mon-Sat 5pm-11pm and Sunday 11am-11pm.

After closing for renovations, ~OASIS CAFE~ on Divisadero has reopened. I caught up with owner Taddesse Haile, who tells me he installed a large kitchen during construction, so there’s now a rather extensive menu of Ethiopian dishes on the menu, about 16 right now (many are vegetarian). You can still get standard breakfast items and sandwiches for lunch, but in case you feel like changing up your usual, you can. Haile also mentioned he wants to host a special Ethiopian coffee service and ritual on Sundays. 901 Divisadero St. at McAllister, 415-474-4900.

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The sign at Gitane. Photo by Jeff Dow.

Taking over the vacancy left by executive chef Patrick Kelly at ~GITANE~ is Alicia Jenish (previously at Grand Café), who was originally brought on a couple of months ago as the corporate chef for Franck LeClerc’s restaurant group/Claude Lane (she will continue to mentor other chefs at his restaurants). Her new menu is launching this Wednesday January 15th, as she envisions taking a more rustic approach. She plans to bring “Gitane back to its gypsy roots,” taking inspiration from the cuisines of Southern Spain, Northern Africa, and Southern France.

Some highlights on the new menu include pumpkin salad with Manchego, cress, and marjoram vinaigrette; blood sausage flatbread with leek butter, sunchokes, arugula, fried leeks, and sherry vinaigrette; local fish tagine; and a goat mixed grill with a cumin-scented chop, yogurt-marinated leg, crépinette, farro verde, pomegranate, and marinated feta. One thing to note is that Jenish will be integrating a whole animal program with Boer goat from The Long Ranch, lamb from McCormack Ranch, and whole pigs from Llano Seco Rancho Organic Farms.

There is also a new Spanish happy hour on the patio (Mon-Sat 5pm-close), which will include three complimentary snacks available from the kitchen or outdoor bar cart (some offerings could include fried smelt with lemon aioli, house-marinated and stuffed olives, and bacalao fritters), with the order of a cocktail, wine, beer, or housemade sangria. There are also new cocktails from lead barman Carlos Yturria that are meant to be light on their feet and pair well with food, like the Casa Blanca: gin infused with turmeric and pink peppercorn, Luxardo Maraschino, and lime.

Over at ~MAGNOLIA GASTROPUB & BREWERY~ on Haight, Dave McLean has hired Kevin Clancy as executive chef. Kevin was actually a line cook on the opening kitchen team at Magnolia in 1997 and later became sous chef, then head chef at Magnolia in 2004. He’s been at several places since, and McLean is happy to have him back in the kitchen. McLean elaborates: “Kevin is already part of the Magnolia family and he brings a deep understanding of our kitchen, brewery, and our culinary goals and vision.”

After running the rumor that corporate pastry chef Matthew Tinder was leaving the Daniel Patterson Group to go to The Restaurant at Meadowood, we now have an official statement from Daniel Patterson confirming the news: “Professionally, it has been a pleasure to work with Matt for close to three years. Over that time I have watched his style grow and evolve into something really special. I wrote extensively about him in the Coi book, even though I knew that he would eventually be moving on, out of respect and gratitude for his contributions. On a personal level, Matt has become a great friend, and I will miss his presence. He left all of the restaurant dessert programs in great shape, especially Coi, where Nick Muncy, who worked with closely with Matt for several years, continues to run the program at a very high level. As a group, we wish Matt every success for the future.”

The team at ~THE RESTAURANT AT MEADOWOOD~ share that Tinder is the first pastry chef to hold the title in three years, since Boris Portnoy departed in 2011. Executive chef Christopher Kostow says: “My biggest concern has always been the creation of invisible walls within the kitchen. For this reason, all cooks have, and will continue to, work in pastry as part of their training process.” With the hiring of Tinder, Kostow’s kitchen will be taking on a stronger pastry presence, and continuing to push things into full-tilt excellence over there.

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The new Bun Mee location. Photo courtesy Bun Mee.

As previously mentioned on tablehopper, Vietnamese sandwich slinger ~BUN MEE~ is opening a second location on Market Street downtown. The doors open today, Tuesday January 14th, with the same menu as the original location. Look for their inventive Vietnamese sandwiches (ahhh, the sloppy bun!), plus salads, rolls, and rice and noodle bowls. The 1,600-foot space will also allow them to expand their (already great) catering options, if you’re looking for a new office lunch option. Hours are daily 10:30am-9pm. 650 Market St. at New Montgomery, 415-362-8663.

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Shrimp and grits from Hi Lo. Photo courtesy Hi Lo.

Here are some new brunches for your weekend pleasure: ~ST. VINCENT~ is now serving brunch on Saturdays from 12pm-3pm. The menu includes a smørrebrød selection, a couple of egg dishes such as scrapple, and lavender bread pudding; take a peek right here. They’ll also be pouring coffee from Bicycle Coffee Co. and eventually may be adding a few lighter brunch cocktails. Of course, their exceptional beer and wine selection will also be available. Look for Sunday service to be added soon.

~HI LO~ has started serving brunch on Sundays from 11am-2:30pm. Chef Robin Song’s menu includes hearty, Southern-inflected items like chicken fried steak and eggs (don’t forget your Lipitor) and shrimp and grits with andouille sausage, along with some lighter choices like house-smoked salmon and fruit with yogurt. Am curious about the bacon that is house-smoked, braised, and grilled. They’ve got a selection of brunch cocktails going, along with some “hair of the dog” shot specials for $7. Check out the whole shebang here.

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The (often crowded) patio at Hog Island Oyster Bar. Photo by Ed Anderson Photography, courtesy Hog Island Oyster Co.

As reported previously, the ~HOG ISLAND OYSTER BAR~ in the Ferry Building is expanding. Their last day in their current space is Wednesday January 15th, and they’ll be closed until this spring. Once they reopen, the new space (by Cass Calder Smith) will offer 65 seats inside and an additional 60 outside, which should make getting your paws on their oysters and clam chowder that much easier. Doubling your ease, in fact. Other new features include an expanded menu and a full bar, with cocktails from Scott Beattie and Michael Jack Pazdon of St. Helena’s Goose and Gander.

In the meantime, you can still slurp oysters at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, where Hog Island will have some oysters available on Saturdays (8am-2pm), Tuesdays (10am-2pm), and Thursdays (10am-2pm)—and grilled cheese. And of course, you can always head to the North Bay locations in Marshall and Napa.

A tablehopper reader was unhappy to discover their reservation at ~ROXY’S CAFE~ was no longer valid when the place closed last week, and diners weren’t notified. Ends up owner Manny Torres Gimenez is going to be focusing his attention full time on his other restaurant, The Palace. Stand by for news on who is moving into the space next. 2847 Mission St. at 24th St.

Speaking of new owners, this is a small tidbit, but I hear Francesco D’Ippolito, owner of Poesia and ~DANTE’S TABLE~, has sold Dante’s to a new (and first-time) owner. 544 Castro St. at 19th St., 415-529-2797.

In Hayes Valley, it looks like ~TASTE TEA LOUNGE~ has also closed up shop. Hayeswire reports that the owner, Vincent Fung, had to shutter because he lost his lease. However, he is currently looking for a new space to reopen, so there’s a silver lining! 535 Octavia St. at Ivy.

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The future home of Standard Fare. Photo from Facebook.

Our man Doug Washington (partner in Town Hall, Salt House, and Anchor & Hope) has caught the restaurant design bug and is launching a design and development company, Claro, with creative director Stellah De Ville. While they will be primarily be focused on redesigning/reconcepting existing restaurants, Scoop reports their first project will be a new one of their own: a marketplace in Oakland with the working title of ~GRAND MARKET~. The location is just next door to Charlie Hallowell’s newly opened Penrose. Look for different counters with cheese, charcuterie, bread, and more, with many items made on site (Hallowell’s team will be behind the bread). Linea Caffe will also be offered, as well as beer and wine; a spacious outdoor area will also be a focal point of the project. Stand by for updates in the coming months. 3265 Grand Ave. at Lakewood, Oakland.

Just at our post time last week, we received word about a new project from Kelsie Kerr, a Chez Panisse, Café Rouge, and Zuni Cafe alum who is well known in our local culinary scene (she was also the co-author of The Art of Simple Food and II). She is going to be opening ~STANDARD FARE~ in West Berkeley, which will be primarily a place to pick up complete meals and à la carte selections—everything will be prepared fresh daily from locally sourced organic ingredients and presented in handcrafted ceramic dishes by Jered’s Pottery, all ready-set-go to take home.

Expect dishes that will reheat beautifully, like lamb shoulder braised in red wine with rosemary and carrots, with side dishes like quinoa pilaf and lacinato kale. There will also be gratins and tians, soups and pasta sauces, and plenty of vegetarian options. Customers will need to sign a deposit for those gorg cazuelas, obviously; whether you’re picking up a stew or some side dishes, there will also be some special bags to carry them home. It will be takeout only, starting with dinner first and catering lunches Tue-Fri, and then adding lunch later (hours will eventually be 11am-7pm). Kerr is aiming to open by the end of February. 2701 8th St. at Carleton, Berkeley.

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The pizza classico from Fist of Flour. Photo courtesy Fist of Flour.

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The kitchen and counter at the Doughjo. Photo courtesy Fist of Flour.

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The Caravaggio Gelateria Italiana interior. Photo from Facebook.

The ~FIST OF FLOUR DOUGHJO~ is getting ready to open on Wednesday January 15th in Oakland. Back in October, East Bay Dish caught the news on the new spot from owner James Whitehead. This is the first brick-and-mortar location for Whitehead, a self-taught pizza fiend who built his own pizza oven and has been running a mobile pizza operation for three years. His “doughjo” in the Laurel District of Oakland will offer pizza slices in traditional cheese, mushroom, or pepperoni, and two rotating specials from their mobile menu.

During the first month, their Initial Pizza Offering (IPO) will be a limited menu—they will release the menu on social media (@fistofflour) and their website. Although we do hear the Classico, with pepperoni, mushroom, chopped garlic, house tomato sauce, mozzarella, and fresh basil, will be on the menu for sure. This is what happens when you’re the pizza man’s favorite pie. There will also be whole pies available, in large (15-inch) and extra-large (20-inch) sizes. Two seasonal salads, breadsticks, and stromboli also make an appearance; sandwiches will be added later.

It will be a walk-in and takeaway spot only; they will have counters to stand at and eat a quick slice, and plan on having some waiting benches built. There will also be a limited number of barstools at the counters. Just to be clear, there are no tables and no public restrooms. The space is softly open as of this Wednesday January 15th at 5pm, with some ongoing construction and a beer and wine license in the works. Hours are Wed-Sun 5pm-9pm. 4166 MacArthur Blvd. at Maybelle, Oakland.

Want some dessert? Oh boy, this looks amazing, even if we are a little late in mentioning it. ~CARAVAGGIO GELATERIA ITALIANA~ opened in Berkeley back in November. Chowhound reports authentic, not-too-sweet gelato made in-house, with flavors like pistachio, fig, and hazelnut. Oh, and this is cool: all their milk is treated with lactase, rendering it lactose-free. 1797 Shattuck Ave. at University, Berkeley, 510-900-2401.

According to their Facebook page, Berkeley restaurant ~IYASARE~ is going to be open for lunch starting Wednesday January 15th. The menu includes some light small plates as appetizers, in addition to some heartier choices as well. They’ll be open Wed-Mon 11:30am-2pm, Sat-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm. 1830 4th St. at Hearst, Berkeley, 510-845-8100.

Berkeleyside reports that San Francisco vegan restaurant ~SOURCE~ is opening a second location in Berkeley. The new location is called Source Mini and will offer a smaller version of the San Francisco menu, which will be available for takeout. They hope to open in two weeks. 1511 Shattuck Ave. at Vine, Berkeley.

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Goat cheese samples from Vermont Creamery. Photo by Bay Milin courtesy Cheesemonger Invitational.

So you love cheese. Duh. Want to watch cheesemongers from all over the country compete on their cheese knowledge and cutting technique? (The desirable kind of cheese cutting, however—not the kind your kid brother does.) Then check out the ~2014 CHEESEMONGER INVITATIONAL~ on Sunday January 19th from 5pm-8pm at Public Works in the Mission. You can watch cheesemongers compete at the Cheese Throwdown, plus sample tons of cheese including offerings from Cowgirl Creamery, Cypress Grove, the Cellars at Jasper Hill, and a variety of imported cheeses from Switzerland, Germany, and France. Get there from 5pm-6pm for the cheese-pairing bites (there will be 3,500 bites in all)! You’ll also find cheesy popcorn, grilled cheese sandwiches from Grilled Cheez Guy, and fondue. Free raffles will offer lots of cheese-related prizes, like books and platters from Rainbow Grocery and Bi-Rite Market. Tickets are $60 per person, and include all the cheese you can eat and entry to the throwdown. A cash bar will keep you going too. 131 Erie St. at South Van Ness.

The cheesiness just won’t quit: get your tickets now for the ~8TH ANNUAL CALIFORNIA’S ARTISAN CHEESE FESTIVAL~ in Petaluma at the Sheraton Sonoma County from Friday March 21st-Sunday March 23rd. The festival includes a variety of events, including an opportunity to meet the participating cheesemakers, cooking demonstrations, and lots of tastings. Take a look at the full schedule of events right here. Ticket prices range from $35-$115, and you can snag them here. 745 Baywood Dr. at Marina, Petaluma.

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Luna Blu. Photo from Facebook.

Some tidbits for you in the North Bay. First up, Eater mentions the opening of ~LUNA BLU~ in the former location of The Boathouse in Tiburon. The owners are Renzo and Crystal Azzarello, and while lunch and dinner will showcase Renzo’s Sicilian background (think lots of seafood), during the day, there will be an English tea in between lunch and dinner (wife Crystal is English). Cocktails, beer, and wine are all on offer, with 20 seats inside and 30 on the deck. Hours: Mon, Wed-Thu 11am-9:30pm, Fri 11am-10:30pm, Sat 9:30am-10:30pm, and Sun 9:30am-9:30pm. 35 Main St. at Tiburon, Tiburon, 415-789-5844.

A couple of residents in Milf Valley have been asking what’s going on at the ~TYLER FLORENCE SHOP~, which has its windows papered over and a sign announcing it will become Tyler Florence Test Kitchen. A note back from team TyFlo confirms they are in fact doing a remodel of the demonstration kitchen in the shop so they can offer cooking classes and live demonstrations. Timing and permits are still being finalized, so stand by for an update on this soon! 59 Throckmorton Ave. at Corte Madera, Mill Valley.

Novato residents will be fired up with the upcoming opening of ~COOPER’S PUBLIC MARKET~, which should be very soon. It will be a small, family-owned indoor market selling sustainably raised eggs, produce, dairy, meats, cheese, honey, and other staples produced within 30 miles by family-owned farms and businesses. Follow along on Facebook for updates. 1425 Grant Ave. at 4th, Novato.