April 28, 2015

April 28, 2015

The future home of Petit Crenn. Photo: © tablehopper.com.


Dominique preparing a dish at her Pardon My French lunch (with Daniel Boulud) at Pebble Beach Food & Wine. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

While a large part of Hayes Valley residents (and beyond) yelled out a collective “nooooooooo!” over the closure of ~BAR JULES~, now it’s time for a collective sigh over whose hands that special space is landing in: Dominique Crenn of two-Michelin-starred ~ATELIER CRENN~. (Shout-out to Hoodline for noticing the liquor license activity first.)

The new project will be called ~PETIT CRENN~, and Crenn, who lived across the street for three years, would dine at Bar Jules frequently, which is why chef-owner Jessica Boncutter decided to pass the torch to Crenn. She knows the neighborhood well and is so excited to “continue the legacy Jessica started.”

But high-end tasting menus will not be the story here. Instead, Crenn is going to be offering a casual and homey experience, focused on the cuisine of her homeland of Brittany. It will be an homage to the dishes her mother and grandmother used to make on their farm. For Crenn, the food will be about nostalgia and creating a home away from home. Brittany is known for having some of the best vegetables in all of France, along with excellent seafood, pork, and lamb, which will all be well represented on the menu (there’s a live-fire grill in the kitchen they will keep and be cooking on). She will be offering food that is very fresh and clean and doing some sourcing from small-scale and lesser-known local farmers and producers. Rusticity will also come through with the bread service: they will be baking the famous 4- to 5-pound loaves of bread (“le pain des amis”/bread of friends) that you break apart.

Petit Crenn will be open all day, starting with a French breakfast (think a platter with housemade bread and jam, pastries, croissant, simple eggs) plus fresh juice and coffee, along with her mother’s wonderful cocoa; homemade cereal will also be available. Lunch service will include sandwiches, tartines, crêpes, and salads—Crenn loves tomatoes, so expect a lot of them when they come into season.

Dinnertime will feature an all-inclusive five-course dinner for $72, served family style. So no tipping, but if you want some cider or vin rouge, that will be up to you. The cooks will serve you directly and will be dressed in the classic striped Breton shirt. The room will also have a maritime feel, with lots of white and nautical accents. Crenn’s friends will be collaborating on the design and art for the space.

This project is part of a new business entity she has created, with different investors and separate from Atelier Crenn. But her partner and pastry chef/chef pâtissier, Juan Contreras, will be working with her to create some classic Breton desserts, a different tone from the innovative style he is known for. Stand by for more news of other hires for the project soon.

In the evening there will be reservations for the tables, and the bar will be open for walk-ins (for à la carte, oysters, and a glass of wine). Look for a July opening. 609 Hayes St. at Laguna.


A nectarine almond dessert at Lord Stanley. Photo by Mike Norquist courtesy Lord Stanley.


A shellfish dish at Lord Stanley. Photo by Mike Norquist courtesy Lord Stanley.


A rendering of Lord Stanley. Rendering by Boor Bridges Architecture, courtesy Lord Stanley.

Carrie and Rupert Blease, co-chefs and a married couple, are opening a new restaurant in the former T2J Thai space on Polk Street, ~LORD STANLEY~. We have been trying to get details on this project for a couple months, and their PR folks have finally released the hounds. The duo, who met in England at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, have since worked at New York’s Per Se and Blue Hill and Central Kitchen and Commonwealth here in San Francisco. A British and European sensibility will influence the food, with a California emphasis on excellent, seasonal ingredients. They’ll be making nearly everything in-house, including the butter and bread, and will keep the menu small and not overly complicated.

The space seats 40, and Boor Bridges Architecture is behind the design. They’ve opened it up, with an upstairs loft that houses a communal table, along with floor-to-ceiling windows and clean lines. Warm wooden tables balance the touches of concrete, steel, and neon, while custom dishes from Melissa Rice, canvas bread bags, and textiles soften the hard, clean lines of the space.

The restaurant also features a bar, where wine director Louisa Smith will pour wines from small producers both local and international, with a focus on organic, biodynamic, and unique offerings. There will also be a regularly changing selection of beers on tap, including many international choices. You’ll also find sake, low-proof cocktails, and nonalcoholic selections, including many with juices made in-house.

Lord Stanley is set to open in early June, and hours will be Sun, Tue-Thu 5:30pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm, closed Mon. 2065 Polk St. at Broadway.


The exterior of 18 Virginia Ave., future home of Aktun Comida Yucateca. Image from Google Streetview.

A tipster sent us the news that there is a new taker for the former Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack space in Bernal. It’s called ~AKTUN COMIDA YUCATECA~ and will be serving local, organic food, again according to our tipster. Sadly, we weren’t able to get any information on who is running the new project. Emmy’s said they have no involvement in the space at all, and calls to adjacent bar El Amigo (which our tipster seemed to think was involved) were a dead end since their line is disconnected.

However, we were able to nab a picture of the menu in the window, which looks promising. Dishes include a 4505 hot dog with habanero crema, grilled onions, jalapeño, sweet peppers, and cilantro; ceviche made with local petrale sole, peppers, onions, lime, and corn chips; and fried plantains with butter and cinnamon. We’re still working on getting details, so file this one under “developing.” 18 Virginia St. at Mission. Update: we got word from Joe Kaplan, the owner of El Amigo, after our deadline. He is indeed opening Aktun in the former Emmy’s space, and will be focusing on tequila and mezcal in the bar. Aktun is having an opening party this Friday May 1st from 7pm-11pm, with cocktails and small plates.


The bright and cheerful interior at Tacorgasmico. Photo from Facebook.


A lunch plate from Huli Huli. Photo from Facebook.

By Dana Eastland. As previously reported on tablehopper, taco restaurant ~TACORGASMICO~ is, um, coming soon to the Castro. It’s opening in the former Blue Restaurant space on Market Street, and they are serving “simple Mexican pleasures” like tacos, tlayudas, and sopes, along with micheladas and sangria. And maybe happy endings, we suppose? There’s no exact word on an opening date at the moment, but we’ve heard rumors of a “soft opening” (LOL) this past weekend and their Facebook page currently invites you to “come hit the spot,” though no one is answering the phone quite yet. The tablehopper’s position on ‘gasmic food names was made pretty clear in The Bore all the way back in 2012, and this is no exception. But we can’t help but laugh—and hope the food is good. Yes, that good. 2337 Market St. at Noe, 415-565-0655.

There’s really no way to segue to this next story without thinking dirty creamy thoughts, but let’s all give it a try, shall we? The Castro is getting another new spot, this time for folks with a sweet tooth. Cole Valley’s ~THE ICE CREAM BAR~ will be opening a second location in the neighborhood this fall, according to Eater. Owner Juliet Pries reports that she’ll be opening in the former L’Occitane space, with the same style of ice cream choices, including scoops, milk shakes, and other soda fountain beverages. Pastry chef Lori Rich will be making baked goods for both locations, as well, though a menu is still forthcoming. It’s also worth noting that the name may change. 554 Castro St. at 19th St.

~HULI HULI HAWAIIAN GRILL~ from Project Bayview is now open on Third Street, according to Facebook and Chowhounds. We mentioned the new spot back in December, which is offering affordable Hawaiian-inspired dishes while also providing a space for community building. At lunch, look for dishes like barbecue chicken, short ribs, a combo platter, loco moco, and more. They’ve also got daily specials, as well as some breakfast options. In addition, an outdoor garden provides seating and some of the restaurant’s produce. Hours are Mon-Fri 7am-3:30pm. 4100 3rd St. at Hudson, 415-970-1990.

There is also a new Hawaiian spot in Excelsior, called ~ALOHA BBQ~. Yelpers caught the opening and even grabbed a photo of the menu. There are combination plates, seafood, loco moco, saimin noodles, and more. Hours are daily 9:30am-10pm. 4935 Mission St. at France, 415-333-3619.

It looks like Vietnamese mini-chain ~PERILLA~ is opening a third location in the Lower Haight. Hoodline reports that they are taking the space formerly (and rather briefly) occupied by Ming Yao H Chinese. A call to the chain’s SoMa location reveals that they will be open for lunch and dinner daily, and plan to open in early June. 525 Haight St. at Fillmore.


Sam Wo’s rice noodle stuffed with char siu pork. Yelp photo by Connor F.

Just a little update for you since our last report on ~SAM WO RESTAURANT~, which we mentioned is moving into the Anna Bakery space in Chinatown. Since they will continue to offer some baked goods and will be keeping the Anna Bakery baker, the new name will be ~SAM WO RESTAURANT AND BAKERY~.

Construction should be under way in a week or so, and they are targeting July for the reopening. The kitchen is already there, but they are doing a fair amount of renovations: there will be a mezzanine for groups, and upstairs they are installing an all-new soup kitchen, where they will prepare jook and wonton soup. And like the previous location, there will be a dumbwaiter—although this will be a modern one bringing food up from the basement. The restaurant will have the same amount of seats and will offer some express takeout. Hours are looking like they’ll be 7am-3pm, with more hours in the afternoon for tea and a partial menu. (Anna Bakery used to be a hangout for the elderly in the afternoon for tea, and they want to preserve that tradition.) The plan is to then open again at 9pm, serving until 4am like they used to. Time will tell; we’ll keep you posted. 715 Clay St. at Kearny.

Some more details have emerged about chef Gabriela Cámara’s plans for her Hayes Valley opening. The Mexico City chef, known for the beloved restaurants Contramar and MeroToro, is calling her SF (and U.S.) debut ~CALA~ (a fitting name since it means “cove”). Scoop shares that the 85-ish seat space will be focused on local and sustainable seafood, but Cámara has reportedly been encountering some issues with sourcing. Housemade tortillas will be en la casa, and like Nopalito, they will nixtamalize their corn. The full bar will have plenty of tequila and mezcal, and then there’s the taco stand they’ll be opening in the back alley (Hickory Street) during the week for lunch, offering tacos de guisado (stewed meats) for takeout. Oh yeah. Look for a July opening, we plan to have more updates in coming months. 149 Fell St. at Franklin.


The new Counter Culture Coffee center in Emeryville. Photo: © Christy Baugh courtesy Counter Culture Coffee.

Sightglass just keeps on growing: in spring of 2016, they will be opening a new coffee bar on the SFMOMA’s third floor, just next to the John and Lisa Pritzker Center for Photography. (Blue Bottle was the previous SFMOMA partner.)

Across the Bay in Emeryville, Counter Culture Coffee has opened their first roastery outside of their North Carolina HQ, which means the West Coast is going to be getting some extremely fresh and more eco-friendly locally roasted coffee (you can find their coffee at Coffee Cultures, Stanza, and Modern Coffee). While there isn’t a coffee bar where you can hang out, there are a couple of ways you can check out the facility. There are free tastings every Friday morning called Tastings@Ten that are open to the public (followed by a tour), plus coffee education classes and hands-on training (like “Milk Mechanics”) for both pros and coffee home fanatics through their Counter Intelligence program. 1329 64th Street, Emeryville.


Bluestem dining room; photo by Angie Silvy.

After the closure of Baker & Banker last year, chef Jeff Banker has reemerged as executive chef at ~BLUESTEM BRASSERIE~. He’ll be starting at the restaurant in late May and will launch his first new menu in August. The focus of the menu will remain on American brasserie classics, but with Banker’s own point of view and experience. He plans to work with the existing kitchen staff, with the possible addition of a chef de cuisine in the coming months.


The Fog City burger and fries, now $9 after 9pm. Photo courtesy of Fog City.

You a fan of the ~FOG CITY~ burger? You know the one: a classic burger with a well-proportioned patty, topped with housemade American cheese, smoked tomato aioli, tomato, onion, and dill pickles, all sandwiched into a King’s Hawaiian sweet bun. Well, it normally runs $17.50 (and comes with fries), but you can come in after 9pm any night and sit at the bar and get it for just $9. And the fries are still included. Just make sure you’re sitting at the bar.

Newcomer ~ICHI KAKIYA~ has started a happy hour, with $1 oysters Mon-Fri 5:30pm-7pm, sweet. And don’t forget ~ICHI SUSHI~ has a regular rotation of $3 skewers (like pork shoulder with rendered pork miso paste) and $6 share plates (Mon-Sat 5:30pm-7pm). Ichi Kakiya, 3369 Mission St. at Godeus. Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar
, 3282 Mission St. at 29th St.

Looking for a new spot for date night? ~THE ELITE CAFE~ is offering a three-course date night dinner every Thursday evening for $39 per person (tax and tip are extra). You’ll get to choose from three options for appetizer, entrée, and dessert, which chef James London will rotate often, and the price also includes a carafe of wine, white or red. Pretty cool, right? 2049 Fillmore St. at California, 415-673-5483.


Cooking with Rosetta. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

~SPRUCE~ chef John Madriaga is teaching a Fruits de Mer cooking class on Saturday May 9th from 11:30am to 2:30pm (this would make an awesome early Mother’s Day gift or experience). The class will cover selecting and caring for seafood, along with preparation techniques. At the end of the class, you’ll sit down to a multicourse lunch with wine pairings, including dishes like abalone à la meunière and whole fried snapper. Tickets are $200 per person and include the class, lunch, wine pairings, and recipes to take home.

There are still more Italian cooking tricks to learn from Rosetta Costantino, and fortunately she’s got a whole slew of classes coming up. On Friday May 15th, check out Taste of Sicily at 6:30pm, or a Taste of Calabria on Saturday July 11th. Most of the classes are happening at Paulding and Company Kitchen in Emeryville, but check her website for individual class information and tickets.

Want Rosetta’s cooking but maybe want someone else to just cook it for you? You’re not lazy, you’re just relaxing. Fortunately, there’s a special dinner at ~VIA UNO~ in Half Moon Bay on Wednesday May 20th. Chef Giuseppe Sarubbi will be preparing dishes from Rosetta’s books, and she’ll be there, talking about the dishes and signing copies of the books. You can check out the menu here. The evening will begin at 6:30pm with cocktails, followed by the dinner, which costs $80 per person or $110 with wine pairings. Save your spot by calling the restaurant. 2810 Highway 1 North at Roosevelt, Half Moon Bay, 650-560-8858.


Cecilia Chiang in “Soul of a Banquet.” Be sure to watch this beautiful documentary about her. Photo via Facebook.

The Center for Asian American Media has released some new food-focused offerings for the month of May as part of its yearly celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. First, check out the documentary Soul of a Banquet, about local culinary hero Cecilia Chiang. Director Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club) has included interviews with Chiang herself, Ruth Reichl, and Alice Waters, and tells the story of Chiang’s life and culinary influence. You can also download it here.

There are also three documentaries that are part of “Filipino American Lives,” and Lucky Chow is a television series produced by CAAM. Each of the six episodes is an hour long, and follows Lucky Rice culinary festival founder Danielle Chang as she travels across the United States exploring Asian food and the people who cook it. Episodes include one about Northern Thai food, another on Koreatown in both Los Angeles and New York, and one entire episode devoted to the ramen craze. Check your local PBS listings for airtimes.


The bar at Starline Social Club. Photo from Facebook.


A plate from A Taste of Africa. Photo by Tasin Sabir via A Taste of Africa website.

By Dana Eastland. Oakland’s classic hall, ~THE STARLINE SOCIAL CLUB~, is reopening tomorrow, April 29th. The space, which is more than 100 years old, comes from a partnership of Sam White (one of the owners of Ramen Shop) and local artists Adam Hatch, Drew Bennet, and Eric Siemens. The space has an upstairs and a downstairs component, and each will serve a slightly different purpose. First, downstairs, there will be a bar and dining room serving dinner Wednesday through Sunday. Upstairs, you’ll find a music and events venue with an eclectic series of happenings, including live music, roller skating parties, and performance art projects. They’ve also installed a Meyer sound system to help meet all the different needs of the space. The bar is helmed by bar manager Crystal Wilson, who has previously worked at Duende and other East Bay watering holes. The cocktails will be a balance, White says, of really creative and interesting drinks (he mentioned one concoction with a salted rim and crème de banane) and well-executed classics like Manhattans. There will also be a tight selection of local wine and beer, which will likely change regularly.

As for food, chef Austin Holey is running the kitchen. He’s a Berkeley native and has also worked at Bones in Paris under James Henry. There will be a bar menu of approachable items that are always available, with items like shu mai-style dumplings, onion rings, and sandwiches, and then a heartier dinner menu. The dinner menu will change regularly and will give the kitchen the opportunity to highlight ingredients they’re especially excited about. White cites a Chez Panisse-style approach to their ingredient sourcing, with a focus on quality over quantity. For example, they may prepare a large cut of meat one evening, but once it’s gone, it’s gone until the next time they can get it. Downstairs hours are Wed-Sun 6pm-2am, and the kitchen will be open until 12am. Upstairs will open whenever an event is planned. 2236 Martin Luther King Jr. Way at West Grand, Oakland, 510-593-2109.

Back in November, we reported on ~OK FALLS~, the new project in Oakland from restaurateur Doug Washington. Well, word comes from Scoop that he has decided not to pursue OK Falls after all, citing his other projects in the works, including ongoing construction at Grand Fare. The OK Falls space is back on the market, so we’ll see what ends up there. 1544 Broadway at 17th St., Oakland.

East Bay Express reports that Cameroonian restaurant ~A TASTE OF AFRICA~ has reopened in East Oakland. Owner Malong Pendar originally had a restaurant in Berkeley, but it closed in 2010. Since then, he’s been popping up at bars and events, and this brick-and-mortar location is making his many fans quite happy. The menu offers combinations plates for vegans, vegetarians, and meat eaters alike, including fish dishes, lamb stew, and stewed black-eyed peas with spinach and yams.

The new space has a small seating area for 20, but a large kitchen, which will allow Pendar to offer daily specials, and possible catering. Not only does his food look amazing, but there’s a pretty sweet story to his opening: last summer, he nearly closed down entirely due to financial concerns, but friends put together a crowdfunding campaign and he raised nearly $5,000 in three days. As Pendar says, “The community is like my heartbeat.” Let’s support him and get that heart rate up. The restaurant is currently softly open and only serving dinner, but weekend and lunch hours should be coming soon. Current hours are Tue-Fri 3pm-8:30pm. 6638 Bancroft Ave. at Havenscourt, Oakland, 510-938-2000.

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