November 18, 2014

November 18, 2014
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Chef Aaron London. Photo: Daniel Dent.

We have been patiently waiting to release the news for the past month about former Ubuntu chef Aaron London’s upcoming location for his restaurant, and now that the ABC wires have rippled with some transfer information, it’s time to say where: the current location of the South End Grill ‘n’ Bar on Valencia. While London was known for his sophisticated touch with vegetables, this new project will not be a reprise of what he was doing at Ubuntu—there will be some seafood and meat, too, on the mostly vegetable-leaning menu. London does hint that since Ubuntu was such a big part of his life, there will be some reincarnations of favorite dishes on the menu. The targeted opening of the 49-seat restaurant in early 2015; construction is slated to begin at the end of this year. We’ll have more details to share soon. 1499 Valencia St. at 26th St.

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A feast at Hawker Fare. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Oakland chef James Syhabout is coming to San Francisco, Scoop reports. Specifically, he’s opening a second location of ~HAWKER FARE~ in the very large former Amber Dhara space on Valencia. The space comes with a full liquor license, as well as an upstairs mezzanine, so it’s possible he’ll end up doing two different things with the two spaces—think a bar/lounge upstairs, with the dining room on the main floor.

He’s also starting to think more about the roots of his food. After a trip to Thailand, when he spent a great deal of time in the northeastern province on Issan, near Laos, he’s shifted his culinary focus a bit. He’ll be exploring more of the regional flavors of Issan—som tum, larb, and sticky rice are some of the region’s more recognizable staples—and Laos. Right now, the opening timeline is still being worked out but early 2015 is the goal. 680 Valencia St. at 18th St.

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The view of Rintaro from the courtyard. Photo from Facebook.

As reported earlier this year, the former home of Chez Spencer (which was damaged in a fire) has been taken over by Sylvan Mishima Brackett of Peko Peko. Mishima Brackett, who also worked at Chez Panisse before moving to Japan to study the cuisine there, is calling the new restaurant ~RINTARO~, which means “woods boy.” The space has been completely renovated, with help from Mishima Brackett’s father, who runs a Japanese architecture and design company called East Wind. The front courtyard many will remember from the Chez Spencer days is still there, and the dining room features a bar on one side with open beams on the ceiling and booth seating in the dining room. The space seats 60 altogether, plus a private dining room that can take additional diners or be rented out for special events.

As for the food, Mishima Brackett is sourcing his ingredients impeccably, as one would expect from a Chez Panisse alum. The menu will change regularly, of course, but you can check out the opening menu right here. A significant portion of the menu is devoted to yakitori (individual skewers range from $5-$6), including many different preparations of chicken (gizzard, liver, and skin are on there, offal lovers), or you can opt for the chef’s choice six-skewer set ($15.50). There is also a section of the menu devoted to vegetables and fried items. For main or “final” dishes, check out the uni donburi, with uni from Santa Barbara, fresh wasabi, yuzu, and toasted nori ($8 for one person or $15 for two).

For now, they aren’t taking reservations, but should be soon. There are also plans in the work to open for lunch, but for now hours are Mon-Thu 5:30pm-11pm and Fri-Sat 5:30pm-12am. 82 14th St. at Folsom, 415-589-7022.

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The dining room at Crystal Jade. Photo by Drew Altizer.

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The bar at Crystal Jade. Photo by Drew Altizer.

We already covered quite a few details of the 20,000-square-foot ~CRYSTAL JADE JIANG NAN~ at Four Embarcadero Center in a previous piece, but we wanted to follow up since it’s now open. To recap, Ken Fulk designed the space (hello, $14 million renovation), which includes a huge outdoor terrace and multiple private dining rooms, plus the Liu Ling bar and lounge.

The menu features regional dishes from south of the Yangtze River (covering Szechuan, Jiangsu, Hunan, and Zhejiang cuisines) for lunch, cocktails, and dinner. You can look at the main menu here and the dim sum brunch menu too. Hours in the dining room are Mon-Fri 11am-3pm and 5pm-11pm, Sat-Sun brunch 10am-3pm, Sat dinner 5pm-11pm, Sun dinner 5pm-10pm. Bar daily 11am-11pm, and Singapore To-Go hours daily 11am-8pm. Four Embarcadero Center, Drumm St. at Sacramento, 415-399-1200.

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The interior at Picnic on Third. Photo courtesy Picnic on Third.

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The counter and interior at Picnic on Third. Photo courtesy Picnic on Third.

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The interior at L’Emigrante. Photo courtesy L’Emigrante.

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A look into Tap 415. Photo courtesy of Tap 415’s Facebook page.

Way back in August of last year, we reported on ~PICNIC ON THIRD~, and now it’s finally open! It comes from partners Leigh Loper (formerly of Quince) and Natalia Bushyager (previously at Camino and Chez Panisse) and is offering lunch for dine-in or takeout and packaged dinners to go. The space is charming and cute in a vintage eclectic way, with nice wood floors, brass light fixtures, a pressed tin ceiling, and wooden tables made with pipe fittings. The kitchen has a neat storage wall of spices made by screwing Mason jar tops into the wall—it’s all downright pleasant.

The menu is inspired by a different place or theme every day, and three dishes are offered: two meats and one vegetarian. Here is a sample menu that shows the format, though note those dishes are no longer available. Tomorrow’s menu (Wednesday November 19th), for example, is inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi and includes lamb and beef meatballs with barley mujadara and serpent cucumber salad; Ottolenghi’s chicken, roasted acorn squash, and roasted cauliflower; the vegetarian plate is composed of the barley mujadara, cucumber salad, acorn squash, and cauliflower. You can take a look at upcoming and past menus here. In addition to the composed “plates,” you can also order the components in larger quantities à la carte. They’ve got beer and wine too. Pour-over coffee from Chicago’s HalfWit Coffee Roasters and espresso from Contraband is available, along with pastries from Sandbox, Heartbaker, and Little Bee. Hours are Mon-Fri 7am-7pm, with lunch available beginning at 11am. 493 3rd St. at Bryant, 415-590-7121.

As reported on tablehopper last month, Irfan Yalcin of Potrero’s Pera has a new wine bar in the Mission: ~L’EMIGRANTE~. The new project, which is named after the Italian film, is now open! The wine list, which you can check out right here, is very affordable, with bottles ranging from $20 to $50, and 85 percent of them are less than $35. Most of the wines are also available by the glass, or in a 2 1/2-ounce pour for tasting. There are reds, whites, rosés, and sparkling options, plus eight beers on tap.

As for the menu, it’s all about casual snacking to go with that wine. There are bruschette with a variety of toppings to choose from, including kale with burrata and golden raisins. There’s a large selection of salads, or you can go the cheese and charcuterie route. There are also sandwiches and a larger plates section of the menu, where you’ll find the Pera Talas Böregi, smoked chicken and vegetables in curry sauce baked into phyllo dough. Take a look at the whole menu here. Hours are Sun-Thu 12pm-12am and Fri-Sat 12pm-1am. 2199 Mission St. at 18th St., 415-525-2284.

Now open in the Westfield Centre (near M.Y. China) is ~TAP 415~, the new project we mentioned was coming from Chad Bourdon and Matthew Dolan of Twenty Five Lusk. This modern beer garden (designed by Cass Calder Smith) features 18 beers on tap and two on-tap cocktails, plus adult milk shakes, like the Smoke in the Morning, with smoked Scotch, coffee ice cream, whipped cream, and hazelnut brittle. The American menu features 12 bar bites, so the next time you’re shopping and you need a snack, the Reuben tater tots should do the trick. There are also salads, burgers, housemade links, and sandwiches (like wild mushroom with smoked burrata and nettle pesto), plus some heartier dishes, like steak frites. There is also a kids menu. Hours for now are Mon-Fri 11:30am-9pm. 845 Market St., 4th floor, 415-266-7900.

Another week, another ramen shop. This time, it’s in Bernal and is called Coco’s Ramen. We called to find out who this Coco might be, but were unable to get any details. However, the menu looks good, with broth choices including tonkotsu, miso, shoyu, curry, and vegetarian. Chashu and pork belly can both be added as well. There is a small selection of appetizers, including grilled shishito peppers served with garlic sauce and chicken wings. Hours are Sun-Mon, Wed-Thu 11:30am-2:30pm and 5:30pm-9:30pm, Fri-Sat 11:30am-2:30pm and 5:30pm-10:30pm. 3319 Mission St. at 29th St., 415-648-7722.

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Fab neon at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. Photo courtesy of Aaron Caddel.

Throwing open its doors at 7am this Saturday November 22nd will be ~MR. HOLMES BAKEHOUSE~, offering fans of Aussie Ry Stephen’s awesome baked goods a place to enjoy the full range (you have probably tried some of his baked treats at Saint Frank, Beacon, and other cafés around the city). He has been baking in this Larkin Street location since July, but now the retail portion of the biz is ready to be unveiled.

You will be able to try a variety of goods—Stephen has been working on all kinds of goodies, like twice-baked almond croissants (that take three days to make!), doughnuts, tarts, cookies. There will be some Danishes too, either savory (like ham and cheese with mustard and béchamel, or mushroom and caramelized onion with sumac, za’atar, and fontina) or sweet (like sour cherry with custard). Yeah, it all sounds great. There will also be brewed coffee available. Oh, and for Thanksgiving, they are delivering pies on Thanksgiving morning. You can order them through the website ($44 for delivery and $34 for pickup).

Hours to start will be 7am-2:30pm; they’d like to eventually stay open until 6pm, but will need to see how it goes. 1042 Larkin St. at Sutter.

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Beets with burrata at Le Marais. Photo courtesy Le Marais.

Eater caught the news that chef Casey Thompson has left ~AVELINE~ in the Warwick Hotel in Union Square. According to a follow-up with Scoop, the split is actually between Thompson and the hotel—she’ll take the name Aveline with her, though perhaps not the concept. It sounds like the split was mutual, since she says, “We decided to go separate ways…It just wasn’t the right fit. For them, for me.” She may decide to open Aveline somewhere else—and we hope that’s the case, because those crab macarons are gonna be missed something fierce, damn it. Of course we’ll keep you updated on her next move and whatever moves in to the Warwick. 490 Geary St. at Taylor, 415-345-2303.

In the Marina, ~LE MARAIS BISTRO AND BAKERY~ has a new chef, Max Snyder, after the departure of Nicolette Manescalchi. Snyder has previously worked at Quince, Saison, and Coi in San Francisco, as well as Eleven Madison Park and Marea in New York and Qui in Austin. His bistro menu is a bit more classic, with a cheeseburger, black cod en papillote, and Caesar salad appearing alongside more contemporary dishes like beets with pomegranate, black olive, and burrata, or a chicken dish with smoked confit, chickpea, radicchio, and citrus. 2066 Chestnut St. at Steiner, 415-359-9801.

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The note at Chenery Park. Tipster photo from Emily A.

We were sorry to receive a note from ~LOCAL’S CORNER~ that they will be closing at the end of the month. After more than two years in business, the seafood-focused restaurant apparently struggled to stay busy, despite good reviews. The restaurant also became a bit of a lightning rod for concerns about gentrification recently, and clashed with an organization called the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. Ensuing protests and vandalism certainly didn’t help, though the note cites those issues as taking more of an emotional toll than a financial one. Some key staff members are moving on, including chef de cuisine Timothy Malloy, who is headed to Seattle, and the combination of financial difficulties and staffing made it seem like the end of the line. The last dinner service will be Saturday November 29th. As for what’s next for the space, they hope to find a new operator to take over and will offer the space for pop-ups and special events in the meantime.

A tipster wrote in before we went dark to let us know that Glen Park’s ~CHENERY PARK~ has closed after 14 years in the neighborhood, and Scoop confirms the news. A sign in the front window offers little in terms of explanation. We’ll be keeping an eye on the space. 683 Chenery St. at Diamond.

As reported in September, there are some changes coming to Bernal: ~EMMY’S SPAGHETTI SHACK~ has moved to the former El Zocalo space. The previous location is now closed, but you can still get your spaghetti and meatballs in the larger space just down the street. As for the original location, they’re still deciding how to utilize it, so stay tuned. 3230 Mission St. at Valencia, 415-206-2086.

A reader tweeted us about this last week, and the Scoop caught some additional details: ~PASÍON~ in the Inner Sunset has closed, but not for long. Owner José Calvo-Perez will reopen it as the fourth location of his mini-chain, ~FRESCA~. The menu will be the same as the other three locations, with home-style Peruvian food, and there will be a full bar. They are currently closed for cosmetic updates and plan to reopen the first week of December. 737 Irving St. at 9th Ave., 415-742-5727.

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A look into the shiny, new La Capra Coffee. Photo courtesy of Mitchell Rosenthal.

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Photo courtesy of Hearth.

A few months ago we broke the news about the new coffee and café project from Mitchell and Steven Rosenthal (Town Hall, Anchor & Hope, Salt House), ~LA CAPRA COFFEE~. To recap, they partnered with Hanna Suleiman of Caffè Greco to create their own Italian-inspired roast. Well, the coffee has been finalized, and the café is now open in the Financial District (designed by Sagan Piechota Architecture), which has a little bit of seating.

You’ll also find a variety of baked goods and pastries from Starter Bakery and Neighbor, including kouign-amann, croissants, coffee cake, and chocolate-almond twists, and there are also freshly made salads (like smoked duck with fennel, baby kale, and a citrus-mustard vinaigrette) and sandwiches (including egg salad with pickled jalapeño, cucumber, radishes, and frisée). You can check out the entire menu here. Hours are Mon-Fri 6am-6pm; lunch begins at 10:30am. 50 Fremont St. at Mission.

Another new café has soft-opened, this time in the Castro: ~HEARTH COFFEE ROASTERS~ (previously mentioned here). The owners are Ariana Akbar and James Kafader, previously of Brown Owl Coffee. They are roasting their own coffee (special, single-origin beans on their Probat L12) and making their own baked goods as well (the head baker is Megan Bovis, previously at Fournée). One hundred percent organic pastries include a classic French butter croissant, plus baba au bourbon with coffee (bourbon-infused brioche with coffee-infused crème) and a chocolate-caramel mousse with a crispy brown butter cookie.

Instead of classic tea service, you’ll find coffee service, with items like a caramelized banana-hazelnut scone and a prosciutto, Brie, pickled fig, and arugula sandwich on a country loaf. There are also coffee flights (a sampling of single-origin coffees side by side) and coffee pairings (single-origin coffees paired with treats, snacks, or meals). Beer and wine and small plates start this Thursday November 20th, and since Ariana is a certified sommelier and James is an accomplished home brewer, expect good things. Hours (starting Sunday): Mon-Tue 7am-2pm, Wed-Thu 7am-9pm, Fri-Sat 7am-10pm, Sun 7am-9pm. 3985 17th St. at Market.

If you’re up in the North Bay, ~EQUATOR COFFEES & TEAS~ has opened a flagship café in downtown Mill Valley. There will be espresso-based drinks, batch-brewed drip coffee, and single-origin pour-overs, as well as some unexpected soju cocktails, including an Irish Coffee and Bloody Mary. Chocolate egg creams for the kiddies, check, and shakerato for mom, also covered (theirs includes almond butter and coconut milk, wow!). The food menu includes savory and sweet waffles, salads, and more. Boor Bridges Architecture designed the modern rustic space. 2 Miller Ave., Mill Valley, 415-485-2213.

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The brunch sandwich at Souvla. Photo by Luke Beard via Souvla.

~SOUVLA~ has kicked off its weekend brunch service on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am-2pm. Their Greek-influenced options include a breakfast sandwich on their pita, with lamb, scrambled eggs, radish, tomato, onion, avgolemono, garlic yogurt, and feta cheese, or “Greek” toast, a spin on French toast made with pita, sour cherry syrup, and frozen Greek yogurt. You’ll also find coffee, pitchers of Greek brunch punch, and carafes of Greek rosé. Take a look at all the offerings here.

Looking for a good Monday night supper? ~TOSCA CAFE~ is now open Monday evenings from 5pm-2am. Their menu is the same, and remember they take reservations now too. To recap, hours are now seven nights a week, 5pm-2am, with the kitchen open until 1am.

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Dungeness crab ready for the pot at The Hall. Photo from Facebook.

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Dungeness crab season is open, and that’s a wonderful thing. There are a couple of ways to celebrate around town, starting with an all-you-can-eat crab feast at ~THE HALL~ on Sunday November 23rd and 30th from 1pm to 5pm. The deal is pretty sweet: tickets are $70 per person, which includes all the crab you can handle, bottomless mimosas, micheladas, and shandies, along with garlic noodles, salad, and sourdough. 1028 Market St. at Golden Gate.

Don’t want to cook the day before Thanksgiving? Head to Oakland’s ~HOMESTEAD~ for a prix-fixe family-style crab feed. The menu includes grilled crab (one half per person), along with salad, Brussels sprouts, roasted potatoes, and housemade sourdough. There will also be lots of sauces and, for dessert, pomegranate sorbet. Reservations are available from 3pm-9pm, and the dinner will likely cost $45 per person (though it could fluctuate depending on market price), not including tax and tip. 4029 Piedmont Ave. at 40th St., Oakland, 510-420-6962.

As of November 9th, ~JACK’S OYSTER BAR & FISH HOUSE~ is offering a special Sunday seafood supper every Sunday evening. The prix-fixe three-course menu will change every week and includes choices of appetizer and entrée. Previous options have included Dungeness crab Louie, shrimp bucket with cocktail sauce, and sautéed sand dabs. The suppers are $34 per person, not including tax and tip. The special menu is available every Sunday evening beginning at 5pm, in addition to the regular dinner menu. 336 Water St. at Franklin, Oakland, 510-271-7952.

The only thing better than a crab boil is a boozy crab boil. And luckily, Aviation Gin, Imbibe Magazine, and ~ABV~ are hosting exactly that on Sunday December 14th, from 12pm-2pm. The brunch event includes a menu highlighting crab, as well as cocktails from Aviation Gin, including a Tuxedo (Aviation Gin, sherry, orange bitters) and the Red Snapper (Aviation Gin, tomato juice, lemon, spices). Tickets are $65 and include food, drink, and a copy of Imbibe’s new book, Cocktails for the Holidays: Festive Drinks to Celebrate the Season. 3174 16th St. at Guerrero, 415-400-4748.

And now let’s switch gears to chocolate lovers, who don’t want to miss the Fifth Annual Fall Chocolate Salon on Saturday November 22nd from 10am-5pm at Fort Mason. The annual event includes tons of producers and makers of chocolate confections to get you in the mood for the holiday season. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Fort Mason, Building A, 1 Fort Mason Blvd. at Laguna.

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A Farm Burger. Photo by Antoinette Bruno via Facebook.

Georgia-based chain ~FARM BURGER~ has opened their first West Coast location in Berkeley. As previously reported, the chain currently has three locations in Georgia, as well as one in North Carolina.

They serve relatively inexpensive burgers (starting at $7.50) using quality meats and salads and sides using local produce. For their first foray into California, they’ve partnered with chef Jamie Lloyd, who previously worked at Golden Gate Meats, and will be offering meat from BN Ranch. If you’re not feeling the beef burger, they also have a quinoa and bean patty, a chicken patty, and a pork patty instead. There are also fries, salads, lots of fun toppings, and milk shakes (the Doughnut Dolly Foster, made with ingredients from the neighboring shop, sounds like a must-try). (Our intrepid copyeditor reports it’s also kid-friendly, with a little tyke play area!) Check out the menu here; hours are Sun-Thu 11:30am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11:30am-11pm. 1313 9th St. at Gilman, Berkeley, 510-705-1485.

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The interior at Rasa. Photo from Facebook.

Manresa’s chef-owner David Kinch, head baker Avery Ruzicka, and partner Andrew Burnham have found a brick-and-mortar location for their ~MANRESABREAD~. The bread project, which has appeared at the Palo Alto and Campbell farmers’ markets as well as weekly pop-ups, will be opening in December in Los Gatos. When they open, look for bread loaves including levain, polenta sourdough, and cinnamon raisin loaf, as well as both sweet and savory pastries. In addition to the storefront, they will also be operating out of a nearby commissary kitchen, which clocks in at more than 3,000 square feet. With all that space and a new TMB Tag gas deck oven from Italy that can bake more than 100 loaves at a time, you can expect to see some additional locations crop up after this first one is open. You can still catch them at the markets; follow along on Twitter for updates. 276 North Santa Cruz Ave. at Bachman, Los Gatos.

~RASA~ has opened its doors in downtown Burlingame. The new restaurant, from Ajay Walia of San Carlos’ Saffron Indian Bistro, is focused on the food of Southern India. On the menu, look for dosas, of course, as well as seafood, uttapam, and myriad vegetarian options. There is also a selection of small plates, including their interpretation of idli chaat with steamed then fried rice cakes, whipped homemade yogurt, pomegranate arils, mint, and tamarind. Hours are lunch Wed-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm; dinner Sun-Thu 5pm-9:30pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-10pm. 209 Park Rd. at Howard, Burlingame, 650-340-7272.