March 4, 2014

March 4, 2014

Rendering provided by George Chen, courtesy of Cypress Group Properties LLP.

Every time I drive down Broadway (or am walking by Sam’s and am trying to convince myself it’s not a good time for a cheeseburger), there’s the vacant and looming Gold Mountain space, tragically so empty and cold. But not for long! It was with great interest when I read on Chowhound that some eagle eyes found this local high school (Lick-Wilmerding) article about what George Chen (Betelnut, Shanghai 1930) has in store for the place: “Plans are underway for restaurateur George Chen to convert the former Gold Mountain restaurant on Broadway into an upscale Chinese food emporium similar to New York’s Italian food hall, Eataly.”

Another poster linked to Chen’s LinkedIn profile, which says: “The time has come to announce George is in contract with a prominent space in the heart of San Francisco to create and develop his legacy project. This will be ~25,000 SQF premise that will be ground-breaking concept for Chinese/Asian culinary arts. Think of it as a Chinese ‘Eataly’ as in an immense food emporium with live ‘theatrical cooking stations’ that also serve food a la haute food court. Upstairs, there will be super fine-dining establishment called ~EIGHT TABLES~ by George Chen serving a seasonal multi-course prix fixe menu that will be at the cutting edge of Chinese cuisine. As in the name, there will only 8 tables served each evening.”

I reached out to Chen for more details on the project a week ago, but he didn’t want to talk about it at the time, although he alluded to some big players in the project (like who will be the fourth floor tenant and also taking over the basement theater). Seems the Scoop was able to get a few more details out of him: the food emporium will be called China Live and it will be very interactive; the storefront flanking Gold Mountain (at 660 Broadway) will also be part of the project’s footprint. I’ll have more details soon; am very much looking forward to hearing about Chen’s big plans for Chinatown, hopefully coming before the year is up. 644 Broadway at Stockton.


A look into the dining area. Photo courtesy of Urban Daddy by Michael David Rose Photography.

Newly open in the former Washington Square Bar & Grill is ~THE SQUARE~, the new project we mentioned last month from the Sons & Daughters team (Teague Moriarty and Matt McNamara). The menu is decidedly more casual and American than S&D—you’ll find bar snacks like pastrami-spiced rillette and baby artichokes ($10-$11), larger dishes like fried quail ($28) or a cheeseburger ($16), and a rack of baby back ribs ($43) or a whole roasted Dungeness crab for two ($54). The team said the quality and preparation of the ingredients will continue to be tops, but overall the experience will be more accessible.

The vibe of the space is intended to be comfortable and lively, sporting a communal table, counter seating at the copper-topped bar, and 90 seats in all. In the spirit of keeping things casual, a third of the seats will be kept for walk-ins. It has a handsome look, a bit American bistro-meets-modern tavern.

Sons & Daughters’ beverage and wine director Amy Racine has assembled a 65-bottle wine list, spanning classic varietals from California and Europe, plus here’s a beer menu you can check out as well. Cocktails offer a twist on the classics.

Dinner Wed-Sun 5pm-1am (yup, they’re gunning for late hours). Also interesting: looks like there’s a 15 percent service charge in effect. Must be a solution to combat the non-tipping tourists sure to visit, ha. Actually, the menu states the service charge is shared by the entire staff, so it’s a good way to take care of the kitchen (they do the same thing at S&D). 1707 Powell St. at Union, 415-525-3579.


One of Leader House’s private dining rooms. Photo: ©

Back in December, I did a pretty extensive profile on an opulent Chinese restaurant that was about to open in the Payne Mansion on Sutter Street, ~LEADER HOUSE~. Employees were being trained, the menu was ready, launch parties were lined up, and then boom, the place closed.

It was supposed to be a temporary closure, but now here’s the official word from one of the partners in the project: “The Leader House project is on hold. We are currently looking for partnership to run the restaurant and hotel, or lease out the whole building.” The space is totally magnificent—here’s hoping someone comes on board. Meanwhile, I’m just going to be bummed the Hunanese dishes I experienced at a preview lunch was one time only—the food was so good. Sigh. 1409 Sutter St. at Franklin, 415-352-2222.


The housemade sausages at Schmidt’s. Photo via Schmidt’s.

Thanks to a tip from my stylist extraordinaire (love you, Mr. Anthony!), I learned ~SCHMIDT’S~ in the Mission has a new chef in place: Russell Matthew Woods. He’s from New Orleans, and was previously a sous at both the Grill Room at Windsor Court and Bacchanal Fine Wines and Spirits before moving to San Francisco.

Here’s a peek at his new menu, which is going into effect Wednesday March 12th. Some changes include adding (for the first time!) four housemade sausages to the menu (the Schmidt’s Bavarian beerwurst, smoked chicken wurst, smoked Hungarian wurst, and duck and fig wurst), along with smoked mashed potatoes, which are proving to be quite the hit. The Shinkenteller (charcuterie) plate currently has housemade duck prosciutto, landjaeger (a dried beef and pork stick used by hunters in Germany for food), nusshinken (from pigs only fed acorns and nuts), Black Forest ham dipped in blood (goodness), and Hungarian salami.

If you haven’t visited Schmidt’s in a while (raises hand), it sounds like a good time to come by and check it out. 2400 Folsom St. at 20th St., 415-401-0200.


Jane on Larkin. Photo from Facebook.

As announced on tablehopper a few weeks ago, there is a second location of popular Fillmore café ~JANE~ opening in the Tenderloin. The newest location opened softly yesterday, Monday March 3rd, and for the next couple days they’re serving coffee and pastries from 7am-2pm. This Friday March 7th, they’ll start serving food, like salads, soups, and sandwiches, until 6pm. Like at the Fillmore location, you’ll find Stumptown Coffee, housemade pastries, and both breakfast and lunch options on the healthier side. After this week, hours will be Mon-Fri 7am-6pm and Sat-Sun 8am-6pm. 925 Larkin St. at Geary, 415-931-5263.


Pizza from Josey Baker at the Mill. Photo courtesy Josey Baker.

Local bread wizard Josey Baker is launching a pizza night at ~THE MILL~ on Monday nights from 6pm-9pm. Slices are $2.50, whole pies are $20, and both can be enjoyed to go or right there. Toppings will change every week, and here’s the lineup for the month: March 10th peppers and onions, March 17th “shrooms and gras” (that would be cremini mushrooms and asparagus), March 24th spicy broccoli, and March 31st leek and potato. Pro tip: you may want to get there early since last night’s pizza party sold 300 slices in two hours—they were out by 8pm! 736 Divisadero St. at Fulton, 415-345-1953.

You’ll have to wait a couple of weeks for your ~MISSION CHINESE FOOD~ fix, because they are closed for their annual vacation until March 13th, according to a tweet. But never fear, they’ll be back to their spicy tricks soon.

Another temporary closure is going to be happening at ~FLOUR + WATER~. The restaurant is turning five on May 15th (!) and is going to close for a refresh from May 7th-14th to make a lot of little changes, from fresh paint to new art features and some kitchen tweaks. The restaurant will be looking all fresh and pretty on its grand reopening on May 15th, ta-da! I’ll remind you as the date gets closer.

~PADRECITO~ is now serving brunch Friday through Sunday from 11am-2:30pm (hours will probably be expanded soon, too). The menu includes brunch choices like chilaquiles and sopes de machaca with brisket and eggs, and lunch options like fish tacos and a quesadilla with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms and nettles. Take a look at the menu here. The full bar has a host of brunch cocktails available, including the Buenos Dias with coffee, bourbon, egg white, Cynar, and cacao. 901 Cole St. at Carl, 415-742-5505.

At ~THE PALACE~ there are a few changes in place. First is that the spot now has a beer and wine license, so the days of BYO are now over. Instead, you’ll find an edited list of two beers and two wines, selected with assistance from neighbors at St. Vincent. In addition, they are now accepting credit cards, and a renovation to the bar area means that 10 seats will be added at the bar this month. 3047 Mission St. at Cesar Chavez, text only to 415-666-5218.


Photo courtesy of A16.

It’s time again for the wonderful Italian celebration of Festa Della Donna, or festival of the woman, in support of National Women’s Day on Saturday March 8th. This year, ~A16~ is celebrating a very special woman who tragically passed last year: Judy Rodgers. They are working with the crew at Zuni Café to make several of her menu staples, along with wines from three different female producers. Megan Glaab and Chrystal Clifton both produce wine here in California, and Angela Biagiotti produces wine in Tuscany. All their wines will be on offer, and all other wines by glass available that evening will be from female vintners, as well. You’ll definitely need a reservation, which can be made by calling 415-771-2216.

For a break from the usual “tastes like chicken,” ~BOURBON STEAK~ is hosting a special dinner on Monday March 17th called Fowl and Friends, featuring meat from non-chicken fowl. Guest chefs David Bazirgan (formerly Fifth Floor), Peter Armellino (Plumed Horse), Chris Bleidorn (Atelier Crenn), and Kim Alter (Plum) will each prepare a course using birds, including guinea hen, squab, duck, and pheasant. Take a look at the menu here. The dinner costs $105 per person, with optional drink pairings for $65. Prices do not include tax and gratuity; reservations can be made by calling 415-397-3003.


Spaghetti and meatballs at Poggio. Photo from Facebook.

~POGGIO~ is offering an Italian-American-inspired Tuesday night supper special throughout March. The suppers are a more casual, family-style affair with four to six small antipasti to start, followed by crowd-pleasing spaghetti and meatballs. In the antipasti department, look for rotating selections like marinated grilled asparagus and calamari and octopus salad. The finish is also old-school: ricotta and chocolate cannoli. In April, look out for the same format, with cioppino in place of meatballs. The supper is offered every Tuesday from 5:30pm-10pm and costs $30 for adults and $15 for kids.

If you love bacon and beer (and really, who doesn’t?), make sure to check out the ~OAKLAND BACON AND BEER FESTIVAL~ on Sunday March 9th from 2:30pm-5pm. The event is a fundraiser for Oakland Grown, and lots of restaurants and breweries are participating. Look for bacony vittles from folks like Fist of Flour Pizza, Flora, Grand Lake Kitchen, Kainbigan, and the Whole Beast, along with beer from Magnolia, Almanac, and Calicraft. Tickets are $40 per person and include all the bacon and beer samples you can handle. The Market Building at Jack London Square, 55 Harrison St. at Embarcadero West, Oakland.


The Crossburger with bacon. Photo courtesy of Eddie Blyden.


The dining room at Crossburgers. Photo courtesy of Eddie Blyden.


TCHO’s current Pier 17 location, which closes this month. Photo from Facebook.

Back in November, we broke the news that chef Eddie Blyden (Henry’s, Miss Pearl’s, the Alembic) was going to be opening his own burger spot in the new year. Well, the time has come and the griddle is hot: ~CROSSBURGERS~ is now open in the Rotunda Building on Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland. The menu includes his trademark burger ($7.99), a custom blend that uses four kinds of beef (he uses natural beef), and Eddie has a local baker making a special challah bun. What’s the difference between the hamburger ($6.99) and Crossburger ($7.99), you ask? Well, let’s just say the Crossburger is angry. Think spice. (And it also comes with secret sauce and bacon.)

There’s also a CrossCuban (say what?!), a Cuban-spiced pork burger ($9.49) with smoked ham, Emmenthaler, and pickles. Yeah. I want that. There’s also a fried chicken sandwich ($7.99, made with Mary’s Chicken) with tarragon rémoulade and kale slaw, and a dog (it’s Niman) that’s an homage to a Detroit Coney dog, topped with chili gravy, pickled onion, and spicy mustard on a steamed bun. Chef was also telling me about black-eyed pea chili he’s working on, and he also likes making dishes with beets, so there will always be some “Beets by Blyden” on the board (heh). Hours are Mon-Fri 10:30am-5pm, and he’s planning to keep some special hours for First Fridays and other events. 300 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, 510-817-4463.

As Scoop reported and a press release confirmed, Alameda is getting a new watering hole, called ~CAPONE’S SPEAKEASY~. It’s in the former Wells Fargo building, and as the name would suggest, has a 1920s gangster theme. Nicholas Koliopoulos is the chef, and he’ll be serving a menu focused on small plates, intended for sharing and pairing with drinks. There will also be live music, DJ nights, a dance floor, and staff in costumes. The plan is to open in April, and hours will be Tue-Wed 4pm-11pm, Thu 4pm-12am, Fri-Sat 4pm-1:30am, and Sun 9am-9:00pm. 1400 Park St. at Central, Alameda, 510-522-2391.

Noted San Francisco chocolate maker ~TCHO~ has been located at Pier 17 on the Embarcadero for several years, but is decamping for the East Bay, according to San Francisco Business Times. Apparently, they outgrew the space and the 49,000 square feet they found in Berkeley’s Marchant Building fixed that issue (all the financial instability at the Exploratorium, their landlord, can’t have helped, either). They’ll still have a San Francisco presence though: CEO Andrew Burke reports that they are currently looking for a location for a small shop in the city. The new facility should open in April, and the Pier 17 shop will close up this month. 3100 San Pablo Ave. at 67th St., Berkeley.

The Oakland location of ~GREGOIRE~ is now serving lunch all day, according to Berkeleyside Nosh. That means you can get their sandwiches, like the chile verde braised pork or the house-smoked calamari, until 9pm. Sweet! 4001 Piedmont Ave. at Broadway, Oakland, 510-547-3444.