April 7, 2015

April 7, 2015
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Chef Freedom Rains. Photo courtesy Belga.

Adriano Paganini’s latest project on Union Street now has a name and a chef. The Belgian brasserie has been christened ~BELGA~, and Freedom Rains has been appointed as chef. His previous experience includes Flour + Water, Boulevard, RN74, and Incanto, and he will be bringing a California focus to the Belgian-inspired menu. The menu is all about celebrating hospitality and “conviviality” (a word that’s been turning up a lot lately), with dishes that encourage sharing, like housemade sausages cooked in the wood-fired oven, a rib-eye for two, and his takes on classics like salad Lyonnaise and moules frites.

It will all pair well with beverages, of course, with a substantial beer list of Belgian and Belgian-inspired suds selected by bar manager and cicerone Ryan Murphy (Abbot’s Cellar). There will also be cocktails from Nora Furst, also designed to pair well with food. The space and other menu details are still in development, but we’ll have a closer look soon. In the meantime, check out a rendering of the exterior and get ready for the opening in mid-May. 2000 Union St. at Buchanan.

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Sausage pizza from Transit. Photo from Traci Des Jardins via Twitter.

Traci Des Jardins has reopened casual café ~TRANSIT~ in the Presidio, after taking it over earlier this year.

The new spot offers an easy spot to grab a bite, coffee and espresso by Equator, pastries, and wine and beer. You’ll find salads, sandwiches, grilled burgers, pizza from the wood-burning oven in the afternoon, and breakfast items, as well as a tightly edited selection of beer and wine on tap; take a look at the menu here. There’s an outdoor patio with views, and indoor seating if it’s too breezy. Takeout is also available. Hours are Mon-Fri 7am-7pm. 215 Lincoln Blvd. at Graham, 415-561-5300.

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A view into Saison’s kitchen (but this is not the chef’s counter, FYI). Photo: Bonjwing Lee.

If anyone was going to be discriminating about sushi in this town, it would be Saison chef-partner Joshua Skenes. So when he says that someone is the best sushi chef in San Francisco right now, well, it makes you curious, doesn’t it? From now until May 30th (Tuesdays through Saturdays), you can book a seat at ~SAISON~’s eight-seat chef counter for a modern omakase experience from guest chef Jiro Lin, who worked for 11 years at Hamano Sushi in the Castro and trained extensively in Japan at Bikkuri Zuzhi and Maguro Hanamigawa. Josh invited chef Jiro to be a guest chef because of his love of sushi, and he really respects chef Jiro’s craft. Match that with Saison’s impeccable ingredient sourcing, and it’s sure to be a special meal.

The menu changes daily but a typical meal will include an appetizer (like golden caviar), a clear soup made from ichiban dashi, a tsukemono course of Japanese pickles, and then as many courses of nigiri courses as you want, from golden eye snapper to kawahagi with its liver, and then finishing with fruit and tea. Prices begin at $220 for the menu, and partner-wine director Mark Bright is offering customized beverage pairings starting at $100. Prepaid reservations can be made by calling 415-716-6008. For more info and social media links, visit the site.

You’ll also notice someone new on the floor: GM Alicia Boyes, previously at Per Se for seven years. Interestingly, she is the only female general manager of a three-star Michelin-rated restaurant in North America. (Change always starts with one.)

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Chef Yoni Levy. Photo by Tienlon Ho.

Fans of chef Yoni Levy’s cooking will be sorry to hear he has departed ~ALTA CA~—he helped open the restaurant. His next step: consulting. Scoop reports his sous chef, David Goody, will be taking over for Levy; he was at Morimoto before coming to Alta CA.

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The pastry case at Arsicault Bakery. Photo from Facebook.

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At Ichi Kakiya, facing the front. Photo by Darren Samuelson.

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Nucha empanadas. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

The Inner Richmond has a new bakery, called ~ARSICAULT BAKERY~. It’s owned by baker Armando Lacayo, and the specialty is authentic, French-style croissants and other pastries. They have several kinds of croissants, including plain, almond, and ham and cheese, along with scones, palmiers, and kouign amann. They officially opened last week and apparently sold out of goodies over the weekend! They are also serving Equator coffee, and have an espresso machine coming soon. In the coming months, also look for some additional “cold” pastries, like seasonal fruit tarts. Hours are Mon, Wed-Sat 7am-3pm, Sun 8am-3pm, closed Tue. 397 Arguello Blvd. at Clement, 415-750-9460.

We released all the first look details about ~ICHI KAKIYA~ last week, the new oyster shop from the ICHI crew, and we wanted to let you know they are opening tonight! You can check out the menu here. Hours are the same as Ichi Sushi: Mon-Thu 5:30pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm. 3369 Mission St. at Godeus, 415-814-3877.

After walking by this location numerous times every week (it’s in my neighborhood), the plywood has come down. The Western Addition/Nopa has a new Chinese restaurant: ~KUNG FOOD~. Owner Andy Yan tells me his family used to own Rice and Roll in Pacifica (they like puns, this family), and the chef is their uncle, who has been cooking all over the U.S. for the past 15 years. The menu is primarily Hunan and Mandarin, plus some usual suspects like walnut prawns, Mongolian beef, and let’s not forget crab Rangoon. There are also a few dim sum choices (shu mai, steamed barbecue pork buns) and some Korean-style wings too. Yan mentions the top dishes are their basil eggplant with chicken, chicken lettuce cups, and for vegetarians, their basil meatless chicken (and they will cook vegetarian dishes in separate woks or fryers on request). They have 20 seats and free delivery. Hours are Tue-Sun 11am-3pm and 5pm-9:30pm, closed Mon. 1615 McAllister St. at Divisadero, 415-673-6688.

Last month we mentioned ~SQUARE MEALS~ was opening a takeout space in the former ~LILAH BELLE’S~ on Divisadero, which is currently open Mon-Fri 11am-8pm. In addition to the salads, main dishes, soups, and more, one more vendor is on the shelves: Nucha Empanadas. The Argentine-style handmade empanadas come in all kinds of flavors, from classic beef to mushroom and cheese to some breakfast versions, like bacon and egg. You can get three for $9, and you just warm ‘em up at home. Yup, it’s the original hot pocket. (Pro tip: pay attention to which flavor is which and write it on your bag—otherwise when you get home, they will all look the same.) There are also some quiches, Argentine sauces, and alfajores. 1207 Divisadero St. at Eddy, 415-674-1069.

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The papered-over window at Old Bus Tavern. Photo courtesy Old Bus Tavern.

Back in August, we reported on ~OLD BUS TAVERN~, a chili-and-beer restaurant opening in Bernal. We’ve got an update on the project, which comes from partners Ben Buchanan, Jimmy Simpson, John Zirinsky, and Tim Symes. They’ll be brewing their own beer (from Buchanan and Zirinsky), including a signature lemon basil saison, as well as offering cocktails. They are still in the process of finding a chef, but expect upscale pub food, with a focus on chili.

The 47-seat space is still under construction and was designed by Thomas Pippin of Lifebox Studios (who also did ICHI Sushi) and Sarah Greenwood Design (who happens to be Zirinsky’s mom, cute!). Peek at a rendering right here. The aim is to offer a comfortable, approachable space to the neighborhood, with exposed brewing equipment and dining and drinking areas to suit everyone. Right now, they plan to open in late June. In the meantime, they are also busy raising mad cash for a side project, a chili-and-beer VW bus! 3191 Mission St. at Fair.

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2175 Market Street, the future home of Myriad. MLS photo from Redfin.

It looks like the market trend on Market Street is continuing with another. This one is called ~THE MYRIAD~ and will be located in the Castro. Scoop notes that the partners on the project, Jordan Langer, Pete Glikshtern, and Jeff Whitmore, are working with Forest City, the building’s developer (they also operate Pier 70). The aim is to provide more than “a glorified food hall,” Langer says, which in this case means more of a small business incubator.

Hoodline nabbed some more details on what will fill out the space, and notes that there are already two businesses to anchor it. The first is a butcher shop called Gambrel & Co., which is owned by Langer and already has a location in Redwood City. They are also opening a bar called Mrs. Jones, a partner of Tenderloin bar Jones (also owned by Langer, Glikshtern, and Whitmore), which will offer cocktails made with items available at Myriad. Drink recipes will be printed on cards, if you want to purchase the ingredients to mix on your own at home.

There are 10-15 more spaces still available for other small businesses, ranging from 40-400 square feet. Rents will be $1,000-$2,400 per month, and applications are due May 1st. Tenants will be selected by June 1st. The spaces are entirely modular, which will allow businesses to expand their real estate as they grow too. 2175 Market St. at 15th St.

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The unmistakable Hello Kitty Truck. Photo from Facebook.

Ready for a serious wallop of kitsch and cuteness? You’re in luck, because the Hello Kitty Truck is coming to town to promote the ~HELLO KITTY CAFE~, opening in Orange County later this year. We’ve been following along on Facebook since Eater broke the story.

The truck will be appearing at the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japantown on Saturday April 11th, Sunday April 12th, and again on Saturday April 18th, all from 10am-5pm. They will also be making a stop at Santana Row in San Jose on Sunday April 19th. The truck menu includes petit fours, doughnuts, and macarons, all emblazoned with Kitty’s unmistakable hair bow. Meow. Follow along on Facebook for all the details.

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“Meat” the Lou Seal hoagie from Deli Board. Photo courtesy of Deli Board.

Baseball season is here (the Giants’ home opener is Monday April 13th), and to add on to our post last week about the new culinary options around AT&T Park, here are a few more for your consideration.

If you miss 1058 Hoagie’s big-ass hoagie, you’ll be happy to hear ~DELI BOARD~ is (re)launching their Lou Seal hoagie on opening day, packed with Genoa salami, capicola, mortadella, provolone, cherry peppers, lettuce, their house Italian dressing, housemade Shum (garlic) spread, and salt and pepper onions, all on Dutch crunch. The Lou Seal is offered for $14 on game days only, so make sure to check the schedule. And yes, you can bring it into AT&T Park. 1058 Folsom St. at Russ, 415-552-SOUP (7687).

James Syhabout (Hawker Fare, Commis, The Dock) is going to be hosting a tailgate party for the home opener on Monday April 13th at the EatWith test kitchen, which is right across from the ballpark. On the menu: oysters (see, this is a classy tailgate), West Oakland Dock po’boys, jerk-spiced chicken wings, smoked beef tri-tips with Korean BBQ lettuce-wrap garnishes and potato salad, and more. $57. The event starts at 11am, game starts at 1:35pm.

One more item: ~G FOOD LOUNGE~, the food truck gathering spot under the 80 freeway (with seating), will be opening a beer and wine bar with some food trucks before Giants evening home games, from 5pm-7:30pm. Look for some promos, like $4 beers. 431 2nd St. at Bryant.

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Don’t miss a minute of this party with Eat Drink 365. Photo by Marc Fiorito with Gamma Nine Photography via Facebook.

While Eat Drink SF won’t happen until August 20th-23rd, the organizers have launched something to tide you over: Eat Drink 365, a yearlong membership that offers insider access to quarterly events and curated food experiences, as well as other perks, like a $50 credit with Reserve and a 10 percent discount to Eat Drink SF tickets.

Yours truly has been tapped to help curate some of the events, along with folks on the advisory board like Ceri Smith (wine director of Tosca Cafe and owner of Biondivino Wine Boutique), Thomas McNaughton (executive chef and partner of Ne Timeas Restaurant Group), and Mika Takeuchi (Food Fashionista and brand ambassador for Michelin).

The launch party for Eat Drink 365 is at Natoma Cabana next Tuesday April 14th, with complimentary cocktails, beer, wine, and food from Bacon Bacon. Sign up to join the partay! Membership is $125 a year.

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The third annual Food & Farm Film Fest is taking over the Roxie Theater in the Mission soon. From Friday April 17th through Sunday April 19th, catch films about food, farms, and the unique people in both worlds. The festival opens on Friday with a selection of short films, followed by an opening party at Four Barrel on Valencia. The full schedule can be found here, with highlights like East Side Sushi, about a Latina sushi chef, and The Search for General Tso. Each of the films is paired with food from a local chef, which is included in the ticket price. Most tickets are $15; the opening night program is $30. 3117 16th St. at Valencia.

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Duck meatballs and cocktails at the bar at Grange Hall. Yelp photo by Robin J.

We reported in January that ~DOPO~ in Oakland was going to be moving to an all-Sicilian menu and 100 percent Sicilian wine list, and now they have announced the new name: ~PALMENTO A DOPO~. They have also eliminated tipping. Everything will be in place starting Wednesday April 15th. 4293 Piedmont Ave. at John, Oakland, 510-652-3676.

We have been tracking the opening of chef Matt Burger’s new project, ~GRANGE HALL~, since we first mentioned it back in June 2014. After some test dinners, the place is now open in the former Barlata in Temescal, with Burger serving as executive chef and Jonathan Moon as owner (for now—the two may officially partner in the future).

The menu changes regularly, but is all about classic American dishes with a modern interpretation, and of course there’s a killer burger. They have a full liquor license, and have brought Jason Huffman (previously of Roka Akor, and an old Chicago friend of Burger’s) to run the bar. He’s stocked more than 100 different types of whiskey, if you’re into that. (Raises hand.) The cocktails are made with lots of in-house elements, including cola, tonic, bitters, and cordials. The drinks are generally old-fashioned in style and will change seasonally.

They are open until midnight six days a week, with a special late-night menu that includes a fried chicken biscuit sandwich and a Chicago-style hot dog. They plan to add Sunday brunch in mid-May (in time for Mother’s Day). Hours are Thu-Sun 11am-2:30pm and 5pm-12am, Mon-Wed 5pm-12am, closed Tue. 4901 Telegraph Ave. at 49th St., Oakland, 510-593-2376.

Great news for the ~MILLENNIUM~ crew: not only did they totally surpass their Kickstarter goal (654 backers pledged $119,003!), but chef-partner Eric Tucker and GM Alison Bagby have also secured the Box & Bells location in Oakland. They hope to open in June, stand by for updates. 5912 College Ave. at Chabot, Oakland.

In the meantime, you can attend their last Southern Comfort dinner on Wednesday April 22nd ($39.99 per person; five-course prix-fixe menu, reservations here), and Millennium’s last night in SF is on Thursday April 30th. You can make reservations now for 5:30pm-11pm; the party is $40 per person, before tax and tip, and includes passed appetizers, full bar, and live music. You will pay upon arrival.