March 25, 2014

March 25, 2014
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The delightful Azalina Eusope. Photo by Tim Benson.

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Azalina’s will be going into the space at the left. You can also see the nice outdoor seating area she will have. Rendering courtesy of Market Square.

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Azalina’s laksa with hand-pulled noodles (and it’s vegan!). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Azalina’s curry bombs. Photo via Facebook.

I was absolutely thrilled to read on Chowhound that Azalina Eusope, the hardworking and crazy-talented woman behind ~AZALINA’S MALAYSIAN~, is finally going to be opening her brick-and-mortar location—and it’s going in the lobby of the Twitter building, aka Market Square (and prepare for music if you hit that link). She has catered meals for the Twitter office, and like most other people with good taste in this town, they love her food.

It couldn’t happen to a nicer and more deserving person.

She is mulling over the name, and is thinking of calling it Azalina (sounds right to me!). She said there will be an open kitchen, and both communal and bar seating, with 45 seats indoors and about 30 outdoors. Her good friend Edward Ngiam is designing the space. She said the vibe is going to be informal, an easy place where you can swing by for a meal or get it packed up to go. Both lunch and dinner will be served, with snacks in between and brunch on the weekends.

She is sourcing spices from back home (hopefully including poppy seed powder as a spice condiment, which can be illegal in some places), while using ingredients from local farmers and purveyors. They are not planning to serve alcohol, but she hopes to offer many fermented drinks from back home. She also wants to keep everything at a very fair price point that’s accessible to many income brackets. She says: “After all, I am fifth-generation [Mamak] street vendor, making accessible street food of my culture. I simply pray I do justice to the my community, culture, and the four generations before me with this opportunity.” You will, sweetie. You will.

She will have great neighbors on the ground floor: the AQ team’s project (their brasserie, Bon Marché) and the second Small Foods location (a grocery store). Her location is along the back wall at 10th Street and Market streets (you can look at a floor plan here). Azalina is going in where it says Market on Market, a shared retail-restaurant space that takes inspiration from Chelsea Market and Eataly in New York, as well as our Ferry Building. She said a couple of her Market on Market neighbors will be Nuubia chocolates and a juice company.

She is thrilled about all the natural light and glass walls—one of her walls is made of two huge windows that can slide to open up onto the back patio garden area on nice days (this outdoor seating area will also have a roof). She mentioned there are plans to do some fun things out back, from outdoor events to movie screenings to bonfires—she said people spend their time outside in Malaysia, so she hopes they can feel a little transported here.

The targeted opening date is September 2014. In the meantime, you can enjoy her delicious food at her stand at Off the Grid on Fridays at Fort Mason, where she is currently serving dishes like flower crab tamales, vegan laksa with her famous hand-pulled noodles, chicken curry bombs, spinach yam dumplings, sweet banana donuts, and fresh-spiced pineapple tea. September can’t come soon enough. 1355 Market St. at 10th St.

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The interior of L’Aviateur, still under construction. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

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The exterior of L’Aviateur. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

A report by Dana Eastland. We’ve been tracking the former Rock Nation Café space in the Mission for a few months now, and I finally had a chance to sit down with the team and get some details this week. The new restaurant moving in is a French place called ~BISTRO L’AVIATEUR~, and it is very much a family affair. The owners are husband-and-wife team Maha and Vincent Laforge; she’s a French-Tunisian chef who previously owned a restaurant in Quebec, and he’s a former pilot for Air France. Maha will run the kitchen here, along with her son, Joseph Steinacher, who worked in restaurants in France for five years and has a strong background in pastry.

The space is small and is intended to be intimate and comfortable, with food to match. There won’t be a fixed menu; instead, you’ll find one salad, one soup, two appetizers, and two entrées (one meat or fish, one vegetarian), which will change every day. The food will be global, with a focus on the flavors of the Mediterranean, especially North Africa, but grounded in French bistro technique and style. Some days you might see a couscous or a tagine, another day, perhaps a Greek item or a French bistro classic, like moules frites. They’re still deciding what to start with, but are excited to keep the dishes seasonal and changing regularly. They will also have a small selection of wine, with two whites and two reds by the glass (one of each from California and France).

To start, they’ll be open for lunch and into the afternoon for a salon de thé with Parisian- and Tunisian-influenced tea service. Folks will be encouraged to sit, linger, and relax over a pot of tea and pastries from 2:30pm until about 6:30pm. Any of the lunch items remaining will be sold by weight as a ready-made dinner or late-afternoon lunch. While the space will generally encourage diners to slow down and take their time, they also plan to do a brisk to-go business, which should be a good fit in the neighborhood, which is a mix of commercial and residential buildings. They plan to add dinner service later, depending on what serves the neighborhood best.

L’Aviateur means “the aviator,” a nod not only to Vincent’s background as a pilot, but also to the global nature of the menu. The decor will reflect the theme, as will the food. As Maha puts it, “we will be traveling every day, with the food.” They’ve already got an Art Deco-style light fixture partially installed, and Vincent has some other decorative flairs tucked up his sleeve. Right now, he’s still overseeing a lot of the build-out, but they’ve started to wrap up a lot of the initial construction. The space is bright and sunny, with bright touches of yellow. It seats 25, including spots right at the window, with additional sidewalk seating for 20. They’re still waiting on some inspections and their liquor license, but are hoping to open at the end of April. We’ll be sure to let you know when they do! 2850 21st St. at Alabama, 415-757-0272.

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Chef James London. Photo by Celisse Berumen.

Some changes at ~THE ELITE CAFÉ~ on Fillmore: owner Peter Snyderman has brought on a new chef, James London from New York. He was most recently at CO-OP at the Hotel on Rivington, and he opened La Fonda del Sol (modern Spanish in Midtown Manhattan) and consulted on the relaunch of The Crow’s Nest in Montauk; he also explored Japanese cuisine at Niko in Soho. But at heart, he’s a Southern boy; he spent his childhood in South Carolina.

London’s new Southern-inspired menu will be rolling out mid-April. The Elite has been around since 1981, and the Cajun- and Creole-inspired menu has not changed for the past eight years, so of course there are some favorites on the menu that will stay put: the deviled eggs, jambalaya, and Meetinghouse biscuits. I look forward to seeing what’s coming next. 2049 Fillmore St. at California, 415-673-5483.  

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Outdoor seating at Fog City. Photo by John Mortimer courtesy Fog City.

The newly revamped ~FOG CITY~ on the Embarcadero is getting ready for spring with a new all-day menu, plus outdoor seating. With the excellent location on the bay and the dry, warm year we’ve been having, those 20 outdoor seats are sure to become coveted spots. The lunch menu is now available from 11:30am-4:45pm, and happy hour is Monday through Friday from 4pm-6pm. Look for discounted wines on tap, some cocktails for $7, and a special appetizer of the day at happy hour (like Oysters Jackpot, $5, which features Hama Hama oysters, green garlic, spinach, and Parmesan aioli baked in the wood oven, oof). The new outdoor seating is along Battery Street; enjoy your next alfresco lunch there! 1300 Battery St. at Embarcadero, 415-982-2000.

After breaking the news about the closure of ~MOCHICA~ in SoMa, liquor license activity reveals that they are moving into a new location in Potrero Hill. Another source mentions that they’re hoping to be “ready in four to six months, if all goes well.” 1469 18th St. at Connecticut.

The Marina location of ~CAFÉ CLAUDE~ is now serving brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am-3pm. The menu includes a whole section of “croques,” including the madame, monsieur, and the lesser-know savoyard, with bacon, tomato, and greens. There’s also an omelet, pain perdu, and heartier lunch options like a burger or moules frites; check out the full menu here. 2120 Greenwich St. at Fillmore, 415-375-9550.

~CHOCOLATIER BLUE~ has opened a second SF location, this one is in the Mission on Valencia. The shop offers Chris Blue’s pretty confections, along with ice cream, sorbet, floats, and sundaes. Hours are 11am-9pm daily. 905 Valencia St. at 20th St., 415-648-1010.

A liquor license application revealed a new project in Hayes Valley on Linden from Victoria Slaker and Richard Howarth, and it looks like Hoodline was able to snag some details. The married pair want to open a small neighborhood restaurant and are looking to start construction this summer. 344 Linden St. at Octavia.

Family, friends, and supporters of Allison Chen have launched an Indiegogo campaign to open her ~PI DAN NOODLE HOUSE~ in Uptown Oakland after her unexpected death two weeks ago. Their goal is $75,000, and they’re dedicated to opening the restaurant in her memory. It’s a moving effort, and we’d love to see them make their goal. Please consider contributing!

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San Francisco Fried Chicken Co. Yelp photo by Diljeet S.

There’s a new spot in North Beach serving fried chicken—Eater reports that the ~SAN FRANCISCO FRIED CHICKEN CO.~ is now open (and how’s that for a straightforward name?). They’re serving chicken by the piece, including wings, leg quarters, thighs, and drumsticks (prices range from $2-$6), along with homey sides like green beans, coleslaw, and mashed potatoes with gravy. They’re open 11:30am-2:30am every day, making your next late night out in North Beach that much better—and greasier. Bwok. 362 Columbus Ave. at Vallejo, 415-989-5443.

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Don’t miss the many films on food, farms, and farmers at the Second Annual Food and Farm Film Fest, from ~18 REASONS~, happening April 3rd-6th. All of the films will be screened at the Roxie Theater in the Mission, and all screenings include a local food pairing selected to accompany the films. The fest opens on Thursday April 3rd with a selection of short films, accompanied by spring salad, Josey Baker bread, and sriracha cream cheese; admission to the opening night party is also included.

You can also check out Le Quattro Volte, about a goatherd in rustic Southern Italy (you know which one I want to see!), or L’Amour des Moules, about the life and harvesting of mussels. A full list of the films can be found here, and tickets can be purchased here. Prices start at $15 for a single ticket, or you can snag a festival pass to everything for $150. 3117 16th St. at Valencia, 415-735-1333.

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Tamalpie’s tenderfoot vegetarian pizza. Photo by Kate Campbell courtesy of Tamalpie.

Mill Valley pizzeria ~TAMALPIE~ has a new chef and has made some changes. Owner Karen Goldberg has brought on Scott Warner as chef and partner (he previously worked at Rose Pistola and Bistro Don Giovanni), as well as Matthew Brown as manager (he was previously with the Delfina Restaurant Group). The changes, she says, are part of an effort to move “from a great pizzeria to a fantastic pizza bar and restaurant” with full service, a broader menu, full bar, and an updated wine list.

Additions to the menu include housemade pasta and pastries, as well as starters like mussels and clams, or fried Brussels sprouts—take a peek here. The wine list is focused on small, family producers from California and Italy, with more than 20 selections by the glass, including a sparkling rosé. They’ve also got plans in the works to add a bar area, as well as outdoor seating with fire pits. Hours are Sun-Thu 11:30am-9pm and Fri-Sat 11:30am-10pm. 475 Miller Ave. at Reed, Mill Valley, 415-388-7437.

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The idyllic setting at McEvoy Ranch. Photo from Facebook.

On Saturday March 29th, get outside and welcome spring with the Wine + Bud Break Lunch at the picturesque ~MCEVOY RANCH~. Lunch will take place in the greenhouse at the ranch, featuring lots of fresh produce that’s crafted to pair with their new wine releases, as well as a focused tasting of the 2011 pinot noir, “The Evening Standard.” The lunch is $80 per person ($60 for wine club members) and includes food and wine. 5935 Red Hill Road, Petaluma, 707-778-2307.

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A scoop from Smitten. Photo by Sarah Deragon, Portraits To The People, via Facebook.

As previously mentioned in tablehopper, nitrogen ice cream purveyor ~SMITTEN ICE CREAM~ is opening a new location in Rockridge. Opening on Tuesday April 1st, the space is three times larger than their Hayes Valley spot and has a 2,000-liter liquid nitrogen tank (dude!) for their churned-and-frozen-to-order ice cream scoops. In May, they’re planning to open another location, in downtown Lafayette, too. 5800 College Ave. at Birch, Oakland, 510-594-7630.

Some details have emerged about the closure of Next Door we wrote about in Berkeley. It looks like the space has been taken over by Mark Jones and Ramone Smith and is now ~44 RESTAURANT~. Berkeleyside Nosh reports that the chef is Kenneth Wynn, serving a New American menu with a Southern influence. 3290 Adeline St. at Alcatraz, Berkeley, 510-982-1609.

Berkeleyside Nosh caught the news that ~PERDITION SMOKEHOUSE~ is moving into the former Amadeus space. Scoop then followed up with some additional details, including news about the owner. Turns out the restaurant comes from Chuck Stilphen, of the Trappist and Mikkeller Bar. It’s all about Texan-style barbecue, and Stilphen has made a research trip to Texas already. He’s bringing in two smokers from Texas and will be serving mostly domestic craft beers to pair with the ‘cue. There will be a beer garden in back, as well. The aim is to open this summer. 2050 University Ave. at Shattuck, Berkeley, 510-900-5858.

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