February 25, 2014

February 25, 2014
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Some test dishes: beef tartare with fried smelt, skate wing with brown butter and capers, and rutabaga-brown bread soup in the back. Photo provided by Slanted Door Group.

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The entrance to The Coachman; you can see one of the honey walls in the distance. Photo provided by Slanted Door Group.

Next Monday March 3rd, Charles Phan and his team are opening a new concept in the former Heaven’s Dog space, which has been closed since November 2012 (after an unfortunate pipe backup and flood). The new restaurant and bar is going to have a strong English accent and is called ~THE COACHMAN~, in honor of the Chinatown restaurant where Charles Phan’s father was a janitor in 1978 (and Charles was a busser), soon after the family immigrated to the United States.

Phan says The Coachman was originally located at Washington and Powell, and the owner, Malcolm Stroud—a noted Bay Area restaurateur who was also known for his Scott’s Seafood Grill & Bar restaurants—moved it to the Embarcadero in the 1980s, renaming it The Carriage House. (Stroud sadly passed away in 2012.) Phan said he wanted to go back to his roots for this project, mentioning he also wanted The Coachman to be an homage to his father, who passed away seven years ago.

The menu is going to be focused on British food done well. Phan said he’s going to do what he always likes to do: take classic dishes that have a place, story, and history, research them, and make them well. He said there’s a reason some dishes stick around with us for a while: they’re tasty, and people like them—classics like prime rib, Yorkshire pudding, smoked herring with beets, and lamb sweetbreads with green beans. Phan doesn’t want to make things up and create something new here, but instead offer his own perspective of these dishes, tweak some of them to be a bit lighter or heavier, or add a few more vegetables. He also mentioned making the dishes family style. Some initial dishes include rutabaga-brown bread soup; creamed spinach; Waldorf salad; beef tartare with fried smelt; blood sausage with braised cabbage, apple, mush; skate wing with brown butter and capers; and prime rib with bone marrow jus and a snail option.

The chef de cuisine is Ross Wunderlich, who was a sous at Hard Water that they brought over to run the kitchen. Phan took the team to London for a research and inspiration trip. Of course, St. John was on the list (Phan notes the restaurant’s farm-to-table approach is so similar to our Bay Area perspective), along with Hereford Road, one of his faves.

As for the cocktails and beers, naturally bar manager Erik Adkins has a deeply historic take on it all. The cocktails (16 in all) will be focused on punches, cups, cobblers, and some farmhouse/rural drinks, spanning both Georgian and Victorian eras. Some of the drinks include Regent’s Punch (Hamilton Jamaican rum, Osocalis brandy, classic orange sherbet, Pedro Ximenez sherry, pineapple, lemon, soda) from the book Modern Cookery for Private Families, 1849; the Robert Burns’ Hunting Flask (Redbreast 12-year whiskey, currants, ginger, lemon peel, served in a hunting flask), from Convivial Dickens, 1983; and the countryside-inspired Athol Brose (whisky, honey, cream, oats), a traditional drink of the Scottish Highlands that will be poured on a hand-cut ice cube. Expect a fun list to explore.

Adkins mentioned there will be two beers on offer, both cask-conditioned ales that will be hand-pumped. (Both will be local selections since they can’t ship cask beers from England.) Adkins jokes, “Let’s see how people like their beer at 55 degrees and only slightly carbonated.” There will also be some farmhouse ciders from England and Normandy (and local picks too).

Phan’s architect of record, Olle Lundberg, has updated the space from when it was Heaven’s Dog, starting with knocking down the wall that used to separate the kitchen and the lounge area. The dining room that was across from the bar is going to be more of a drinking area now, with high-top tables and a raised ceiling. The former private dining room with the glass window is now the dining room—it ends up there was a storage area behind the room that they opened up, adding around 40 feet. The space now has around 100 seats in all—and the bar seating that was in the kitchen will remain.

You will notice the two glowing honey walls, which were brought over from Out the Door Westfield (which was also closed due to flooding), but overall the look is much darker, with a modern, masculine feel.

The Coachman will be open nightly for dinner—hours are still a bit in flux, including how late the bar will stay open. Stand by for an update next week, including the menu. 1148 Mission St. at 7th St.

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The front counter at Sightglass’ Mission location. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

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The entry. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

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The back counter and roaster. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

A report by Dana Eastland. After more than a year of work, the newest outpost of ~SIGHTGLASS COFFEE~ is now open in the Mission. They’re joining lots of other hip businesses on what is known as the “20th Street Corridor,” right next to Trick Dog, and on the same stretch as Central Market and Salumeria, Southern Exposure, Rhea’s Café, and the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. The new spot is a bit different from their SoMa location, in that brothers Justin and Jerad Morrison are looking to create a “small, neighborhood roastery.” What that means is that all the coffee served at this location will be roasted in-house, and none of the beans roasted here will be available for purchase elsewhere (more on the coffee and food in a moment).

The space also departs from the previous location aesthetically. You won’t see any reclaimed wood or industrial finishes here; rather, the design is polished and clean, with a luxurious Art Deco element running through. The space was designed with Boor Bridges and built by SmithBuilt. It feels a bit like a fancy yet whimsical bank from the 1930s, complete with soaring ceilings, rubbed brass hardware, round light fixtures, and tobacco-colored tufted leather banquettes. The entryway is particularly well thought out, with hex tile on the threshold that spells “coffee,” and Deco fixtures. The hex tile motif continues in the interior as well, with geometric designs on the floor. The wood shelves are polished and smooth, and the pastry case has a Deco domed shape and a light green tint. Not missing a detail, the brothers had their La Marzocco Strada espresso machines custom painted and then installed teak panels on the sides themselves. They’re gorgeous.

As for the coffee, the small size and limited distribution of the beans roasted on-site means they’ll be able to offer some new coffees. First, the spot has its own espresso, called “Jerboa’s Jump” after the nocturnal jerboa, a small desert rodent whose statue graces a shelf in the space. The brothers are also excited to roast some microbatch beans that they’ve been offered and had to pass on in the past, due to their small size. Look for bags of beans from small-production farms that will only be around for a couple of weeks. Coffee will be available as pour-over, espresso, and “quick brew” for those seeking a quick cuppa to go.

As for food, the same purveyors are represented as their 7th Street location, with a few new options. Check out delicacies from Piccino, b. Patisserie, and Neighbor Bakehouse, with a particularly large selection of savory pastries. Hours are Mon-Sat 7am-8pm, Sun 8am-8pm. 3014 20th St. at Alabama, 415-641-1043.

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Hi Lo’s exterior. Photo by Nader Khouri.

It looks like ~HI LO~ from Scott Youkilis and company is going to be closing in about three months. The space, which has made quite a few adjustments to their cocktails, menu, and format since opening about a year ago, has been profitable, according to Youkilis and a story in Scoop. However, the group received an offer from David Barzelay of the pop-up Lazy Bear that they simply couldn’t refuse. They’ve also got the fire-damaged Maverick to reopen. Hog & Rocks across the street will stay open and within the group, with chef Robin Song at the helm.

As for the timeline, Hi Lo will stay open until the liquor license transfer to Barzelay is complete, which typically takes about 90 days. Barzelay isn’t saying yet if his new spot will be called Lazy Bear, like his pop-up, or Anagram (the name he used when looking for investors awhile back), or something entirely new. Of course, as all this progresses we’ll update you.

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The main dining room. Photo by Maren Caruso.

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The new seating. Photo by Maren Caruso.

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The private dining room. Photo by Maren Caruso.

After their customary 10-day break in January, ~COI~ has reopened, and unveiled a new look and some staffing changes. Chef-owner Daniel Patterson worked with designer Scott Kester to redo the interior with new lighting, banquettes, and decorative details. The intention of the new look is to create a warmer, more welcoming and comfortable environment, and to create a more cohesive design in the restaurant’s various spaces, from the entry to the private dining room to the restroom. Patterson’s love of nature is reflected throughout the space.

New custom chairs and banquettes offer more comfort, along with lots of throw pillows. They’ve installed a wooden block sculpture on the ceiling to keep the various rooms cohesive, and the lighting has been improved with pin lights to provide more specific, clear lighting. In the entry, they’ve added a woven branch sculpture to the ceiling, plus the name has been painted on the door at long last. There are also some new luxurious details, like handblown glass vases to hold flowers, custom raw linen napkins, and hand-thrown custom pottery for the tables.

Coi’s art pieces remain, including MRI photos of produce from artist Catherine Wagner, and a moss and twig sculpture from Loretta Gargan that still graces the entry. They’ve added a collection of midcentury pottery to the dining room’s center divider (it was collected by Patterson’s wife), as well. Eater got an exclusive first look at the newly redone space, along with some details on the thought behind some of the elements.

There have also been some staffing changes. Zion Curiel, who previously worked at the French Laundry, Bouchon Bistro, and The Restaurant at Meadowood, is now general manager. Mark Mendoza is now the wine director for the entire Daniel Patterson Group, and his wine list at Coi offers selections from Burgundy, Germany, Austria, the Rhône Valley, and Bordeaux, in addition to biodynamic and organic selections from California. As for back-of-house changes, Nick Muncy, who worked at Coi under Matt Tinder for almost three years, is now the executive pastry chef.

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Gloria Ciccarone-Nehls. Headshot from Cavallo Point website.

Well, this is sad news. Despite reporting to the contrary in December, it looks like chef Gloria Ciccarone-Nehls will not be returning to ~BIG 4~ upon its reopening later this year. According to Scoop, the restaurant is currently looking for a chef to replace Ciccarone-Nehls, while she is looking forward to having some time off to decide what her next move is. She began at the restaurant in the late 1970s at the age of 21 and had been at the helm of the kitchen for more than 30 years. We’ll miss you, Gloria, but can’t wait to see what you do next! It hopefully involves a well-earned and long vacation.

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The former Bechelli’s location. Photo courtesy of Alvin Garcia.

Back in November, we broke the news about Alvin Garcia and Tom Patella’s new restaurant project, Hopper’s Place, going into the former Bechelli’s in the Marina. It ends up the project has a new name, ~CAUSWELLS~, and they have hired a chef, Adam Rosenblum, who is leaving his post as sous chef of Flour + Water. They also hired a new design team: The Bon Vivants Design+Build. April is the new targeting opening date. 2346 Chestnut St. at Divisadero.

Meanwhile, over in the Mission, the project we mentioned last October that was going into the former Charanga, Carsons, is now going to be ~GASHEAD TAVERN~, and we mentioned the chef is Matthew Nudelman from Greenburger’s in the Lower Haight. The new targeted opening date is late March; stand by for more details next month. 2351 Mission St. at 19th St.

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The newly refreshed interior of The Grind Cafe. Yelp photo by Nathan R.

As we reported in January, Lower Haight mainstay ~THE GRIND~ closed for an expansion and remodel. After a heads up from Haighteration, we followed up to learn they reopen Tuesday Febraury 25th (today!), with more space. New on the menu: you’ll find a beet salad and eggs Benedict, plus there’s more space for patrons to sit. Hours are 7am-8pm daily. 783 Haight St. at Scott, 415-864-0955.

Noe Valley is getting a new Indian restaurant, in the former Swatdee Thai location. As we reported back in November, the space was taken over by the same people who own Little Delhi in the Tenderloin. It’s called ~HOLY KITCHEN~ and they are hoping to open this week. The menu is more extensive than Little Delhi, and offers regional specialties from across India; peek at the menu here. Initial hours will be Tue-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm, closed Monday. 4166 24th St. at Diamond, 415-648-4416.

According to ABC records and some sharp eyes on Chowhound, Singapore Malaysian on Clement Street has closed and already has a new taker. It appears that ~LIME TREE~, the Southeast Asian restaurant on Irving, is moving in with a second location. Right now, the windows are papered over, and a call to Lime Tree confirmed that there will be a second location but “nobody knows when it will open; nobody here knows anything.” Which might be the best quote about food industry construction ever. 836 Clement St. at 10th Ave.

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Exterior photo by Rebecca Kinney. © tablehopper.com.

Bummer, it looks like the second location of ~PEARL’S DELUXE BURGERS~ is closing at the end of the month. SFist reports that the new location simply wasn’t getting enough business to keep the doors open. Though the location is near lots of Mid-Market redevelopment, it seems they weren’t quite close enough to the action to make it. The piece mentions a rumor going around that landlord John Gall might have raised the rent, as well, though owner Young Yi declined to comment on that. Yi also mentions safety concerns for his staff, including an incident in which an employee was punched outside the restaurant. Rough. Fortunately, their burgers, shakes, fries, and onion rings will still be available at the original Post Street location. 1001 Market St. at 6th St., 415-861-1605.

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A bowl of ramen at Iza. Photo from Facebook.

Looking for more ramen in your life? Thanks to a tip from a friend, we learned you can find some at ~BLOWFISH SUSHI~ in the Mission on Saturdays and Sundays, when chef Ritsu Tsuchida’s pop-up Iza Ramen slings noodles from 11:30am-3pm. On the menu is triple-broth ramen, made with chicken, pork, and fish, or tsukemen, plus a tonkotsu. 2170 Bryant St. at 20th St., 415-285-3848.

There is also a ramen pop-up at Kyu Sushi in the Tenderloin, called Fujiyoshi. According to Eater, it’s actually been in action since December, and offers a selection of ramen, as well as Japanese curry and takoyaki. They’re open daily 11:30am-11pm, and it’s cash only. 639 Post St. at Taylor, 415-441-1099.

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The lunch spread at Duende. Photo from Facebook.

~DUENDE~ is now offering lunch in the Bodega every day (except Tuesday). They started out just serving paella on Fridays, but now you’ll also find a rotating roster of seasonal options like empanadas, cocas (flatbreads), and tostas. The options are all available mix-and-match style: you just choose what you want, and how much, and it’s $1 per ounce. They’ll still offer paella on Fridays too. Wed-Sun 11:30am-5pm in the Bodega.

East Bay Express reports that North Oakland is getting yet another new restaurant, and this time around it’s a Vietnamese spot called ~MONSTER PHO~. The owner is Tee Tran, who will be making pho using his family’s recipe. There are also other Vietnamese staples on the menu, including vermicelli, rice plates, and rolls. The grand opening is scheduled for March 1st. 3905 Broadway at 40th St., Oakland, 510-788-4459.

Berkeleyside Nosh reports that ~RASA CAFFE~ is now open in Berkeley. The new spot is from owner Rasa Sun Mott, an Oakland native who raised more than $12,000 for the project in a successful Kickstarter campaign. They’re serving Bicycle Coffee, with the option of a sweetened version with nutmeg, as well as Sun Mott’s own chai recipe. It’s right next door to the Firehouse Art Collective, and they’re planning to collaborate on events together. Hours are Mon-Sat 7:30am-2pm. 3140 Martin Luther King Jr. Way at Fairview, Berkeley, 510-499-3960.