May 27, 2015

May 27, 2015

You know the Negroni recipe, right? Photo courtesy of Campari America.


The Doughgroni at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. Photo: Wes Rowe.


Humphry Slocombe’s Negroni ice cream and Negroni pops. Photo: Wes Rowe.

Hey, whatcha doing next Thursday evening (June 4th)? Hopefully your calendar is wide open, because I’m hosting another tablehopper cocktail crawl in North Beach, and this time it’s in celebration of Negroni Week, which runs from June 1st-7th. I’ll be taking you to three North Beach establishments that have a deeper history than you may realize, and we’ll be drinking variations of the Negroni at each location (did you know the original cocktail dates back to 1919?).

First stop is the flagship ~GOORIN BROS. NORTH BEACH~ shop, where you’ll be served a Negroni Sbagliato (Campari, sweet vermouth, sparkling wine) crafted by Rye on the Road while you pick out a spiffy lid for 15 percent off (there will also be a donation to the SF-Marin Food Bank for each hat sold!). Bonus: did you know this Goorin shop is located above a former speakeasy? You’ll have a chance to check it out on this tour.

Second stop is ~THE SQUARE~, home of the former Washington Square Bar & Grill, famously the watering hole of Herb Caen and his writer cronies. We’ll raise our glasses of classic Negronis (Campari, gin, sweet vermouth), and it will also be time for some ballast, with family-style tater tots (hand-rolled!) and other bar snacks, plus your choice of a larger dish, like their cheeseburger, banh mi pork belly sliders, a flatbread, and more (all come with fries or salad).

The third and final stop is at 9pm at the new ~DEVIL’S ACRE~, which was once a pharmacy (and a hotel!), and will be doling out some special cocktail medicine for you: the Old Pal (Campari, rye, dry vermouth).

So, you ready for this? The entire night is only $25! Each stop includes one cocktail (additional cocktails are your responsibility) and the set menu at The Square is also covered (plus the tax and tip). Obviously these tickets are gonna fly, so hop to it! The first stop at Goorin Bros. North Beach (1612 Stockton St. at Union) is 6:30pm-7:30pm, and then we’ll be off to The Square, so don’t be too late. And please, don’t drive. See you!


There are many fantastic events and specials going on next week for Negroni Week—here are more things to look for, my fellow Negroni fans! The first thing to know is that every bar participating in Negroni Week (2,600 around the world and counting!) will each be making a donation to a charity of their choice (most places are donating $1 per Negroni sold, some more!). Campari has also committed to donating $10,000 to the charity chosen by the bar/restaurant that raises the most money during Negroni Week.

Can you believe the evil geniuses at ~MR. HOLMES BAKEHOUSE~ have created something in honor of the week? Oh yeah! Meet the DOUGHGRONI, a light brioche doughnut, dusted with sugar and filled with a dual core of Campari jelly alongside a Negroni and blood orange custard, and for a final flourish, it’s served with a pipette of Negroni syrup. A donation will be made to Raphael House.

More treats: the other evil geniuses, at ~HUMPHRY SLOCOMBE~, are hosting a Negroni Week Ice Cream Social on Thursday June 4th, from 12pm-2pm (new time!). You can come by for their new Negroni Ice Cream, and they’ll be bringing back their boozy summer popsicle treat, the Negroni Pop. Here’s the amazing part: from 1pm-3pm, they will be giving away both offerings, and for each Negroni Ice Cream cone and Negroni Pop handed out during the charitable celebration, they will be donating $4 to Project Open Hand. Wow. Go boys! Can’t make it to the social? Both treats will also be available at their Ferry Building location (for $4 each) throughout Negroni Week. 

While you’re at ~ABV~, not only can you enjoy a Negroni Rosa (Campari, Brooklyn Gin, Imbue Petal & Thorn Vermouth, Dolin Blanc Vermouth), benefitting the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, but there’s also Negroni pie, a mini custard pie made with Campari, Cinzano 1757, and a juniper syrup, and topped with sweet vermouth whipped cream and orange zest.

There are Negroni marshmallows at ~CRAFTSMAN AND WOLVES~, a fantastic White Negroni cocktail (Campari caviar, London dry gin, gentian aperitif, blanc vermouth, lemon bitters) at ~BENJAMIN COOPER~, and you know ~POGGIO~’s Tony Diiori (aka Tony Negroni!) will be serving his Tony Negroni (Campari, Bombay Sapphire gin, and Vya red vermouth), plus a Negrosky with vodka, the Dirty Negroni with dry vermouth, or the Negroni Sbagliato with sparkling wine ($1 from every Negroni sale will go to Willow Creek Academy).

As you can see, there are many, many options. Take a look at the list of participating bars here! Follow Negroni Week happenings on Imbibe’s Instagram and Twitter (@imbibe) feeds, and by following and using the #NegroniWeek hashtag!


The dining room and bar at Bel. Photo courtesy Bel.


The bar. Photo courtesy Bel.


Counter seating and artwork. Photo courtesy Bel.


The taps and beer display, and, yes, Manneken Pis. Photo courtesy Bel.

A report by associate editor Dana Eastland. A tipster wrote in to let us know that ~BEL~, the Belgian-inspired restaurant we reported on back in 2013, opened on Sunday May 24th. The project comes from partners Jen Garris and Richard Rosen from nearby Pi Bar. Rosen explains that the restaurant takes its inspiration from the sidewalk cafés in Brussels and Bruges.

There’s lots of Belgian beer, of course, and the food is all about modern, local takes on Belgian café staples. There are dishes like shrimp croquettes with leek and potato or foie gras terrine to start, along with heartier choices like a brisket braised in dark Flemish ale or salt cod gratin. And don’t worry, moules frites and steak frites are available. Check out the whole menu here.

As for beer, the list is extensive and focused on Belgian and Belgian-style beers. The menu is broken into several different categories, including fruit-based beers; double, strong, and quad styles; and sour beer. The team is knowledgeable about the different styles and happy to help diners pair their beer with the food. There is also a small wine list for those who prefer wine.

The space is rather quaint and heavily inspired by the European street cafés that inform the rest of the restaurant. One of the reasons for the long delay in Bel’s opening was a major overhaul of the space by the building’s landlord, including the addition of I-beams, many of which remain exposed. The ceiling is pressed tin, and old-world-style street lamps have been brought inside to serve as light fixtures and add the the feeling of dining outside. Paintings from Alexa Wayne of Paintings by Axella of various scenes from Belgian cities adorn the walls, and the warm wooden bar has a pressed-tin tap system behind it. Oh, and we’d be remiss if we failed to mention they’ve got their very own Manneken Pis statue. Hours are Mon-Thu 4pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 4pm-12am. 3215 Mission St. at Fair, 415-206-1000.


The dining room at All Season. Yelp photo by James F.

A tablehopper tipster alerted us to the news that the much-loved Harbor Village restaurant—the popular and well-appointed dim sum restaurant in Embarcadero Four that sadly closed 10 years ago (in 2005)—is rising from the deep freeze and reopening in the All Season Restaurant space in the Diamond Heights Shopping Center (previously Yet Wah).

We reached out to owner Lawrence Lui for confirmation, and in the meantime, a Chowhound mentions seeing a change of ownership sign, so this little rumor is looking good. We’ll let you know when we hear back. The All Season second story has a bit of a view, so it will be a nice continuation from the Harbor Village Embarcadero location, although actually, nothing can beat their original bay view. 5238 Diamond Heights Blvd. at Gold Mine.


Chef Emmanuel Eng. Photo: Christian Grau.

Some exciting news over at ~BIX~: Emmanuel Eng is the new chef de cuisine (he was previously at Bartlett Hall). Eng actually started at Bix midway through February and has reportedly won over the crew with his work ethic and skills. Executive chef-partner Bruce Hill adds that he “also brings a great ‘born and raised in SF’ vision to the kitchen and management team.”

Some new dishes you’ll find on the menu include a foie gras torchon with strawberry-rhubarb preserves and a spiced balsamic, a fun bar snack of General Tso’s chicken (admittedly one of Bruce Hill’s guilty pleasures, and I know he is not alone in this), and Alaskan halibut with a fava ravioli and artichokes barigoule. Further seasonal items on the horizon include a salad featuring the Rose Diamond nectarines from Tory Farms in a salad with burrata cheese, and Eng is turning some beautiful Yerena Farms blackberries into a sorbet, scented with chamomile tea.

Another thing to note: starting this Sunday May 31st, and every Sunday moving forward, Bix is going to reintroduce the Bix Fixe, a $35 three-course prix-fixe menu. It will feature a choice of sweet corn soup or Caesar salad, and for your second course, sand dabs with fregola or steak paillard, and for dessert, you can take your pick of any dessert on the dessert menu. Now that’s one heck of a Sunday supper.


Dottie’s back dining room. Photo courtesy Dottie’s.

We had heard rumors that ~DOTTIE’S TRUE BLUE CAFE~ might be for sale, and now Scoop has confirmed it. Owner Kurt Abney says that after 22 years in business, he is, quite simply, tired. According to the ad, the restaurant does approximately 350 covers a day, and Abney is the sole owner. The restaurant moved in 2012 to a new location on 6th Street, from a smaller space in the Tenderloin, and the lease is listed at $12,360 with 16 years left on it. Right now, the restaurant is listed as an asset sale, but Abney says he is open to selling the name and menu to an interested buyer for the right price. Once the sale goes through, Abney says he may reappear in a smaller capacity elsewhere, or perhaps he’ll enjoy some (well-deserved) time off. 28 6th St. at Stevenson, 415-885-2767.


Liang pi noodles at Xian Gourmet/San Dong Best. Yelp photo by Susy C.

There are changes afoot at EPIC Roasthouse—as of today, Wednesday May 27th, the restaurant will be known as ~EPIC STEAK~, and chef Parke Ulrich will create a new menu built around an open-fire grill. New dishes include a A5 Miyazaki Wagyu steak, or the “EPIC meal for two,” which is pretty much guaranteed to give you meat sweats: it includes a 32-ounce tomahawk rib steak and a two-pound lobster. In addition to the menu changes, sommelier Petra Polakovicova, who originally developed the restaurant’s wine list, has returned to create an all-new list to pair with the new menu. Later this summer, look for a new outdoor patio for enjoying bay views. 369 The Embarcadero at Folsom, 415-369-9955.

Local mini chain ~TOAST~ is now open in West Portal in the former Village Grill, according to Yelp reports. In addition to a dining room serving breakfast and lunch, there is also a coffee and pastry counter in front for a quick bite. 160 West Portal Ave. at Vicente, no phone yet.

A couple of weeks ago I swung by ~XIAN GOURMET~ on Geary for dinner, and there was a sign on the door that they were closed for a break. Wah wah. And now it’s revealed, thanks to to ever-observant Chowhounds, that it has a new name, ~SAN DONG BEST~. The shift appears to be a bit of a refocus or rebranding, since the spot was known as San Dong House before it became Xian Gourmet. Anyway, it appears they are still offering hand-pulled noodles, housemade dumplings, and there is no indication that ownership has changed. UPDATE: According to Full Noodle Frontity, the blog run by one of the most observant Chowhounds out there, ownership has in fact changed. San Dong Best is actually the sister restaurant of Shandong Deluxe on Taraval. Apparently, the handmade lamb noodles are quite good. 3741 Geary Blvd. at Arguello, 415-668-5888.

Ruben Donze is opening a second location of his popular Dogpatch shop, ~LA FROMAGERIE~, in the Financial District, Hoodline reports. The new location will offer a tight selection of salads and cheesy sandwiches on Firebrand bread, including an aged Gruyère with ham and cornichons. Meats and cheeses will also be available for retail purchase, and a beer and wine license is in the works as well. The plan is to open in July. 101 Montgomery St. at Sutter.


Blue Bottle Market Square. Photo by Clay McLachlan.


Opening day at Blue Bottle Market Square! Photo by Clay McLachlan via Instagram.


Lines already at Blue Bottle Market Square. Photo by Clay McLachlan.


The interior seating area at Chai Bar. Photo courtesy Chai Bar.

The wave of coffee just will not quit in this town: a whole slew of new places to get a cup of brew are opening soon. So get ready for the jitters, friends!

According to a tweet, the new ~BLUE BOTTLE~ location in Market Square in the Twitter building is open today, Wednesday May 27th. The new kiosk will offer single origin coffee, pour-over, cold brew on tap, and plenty of espresso. In addition to their usual pastry offerings, there will also be seasonal fruit buckles, and some new savory options. Open daily 7am-7pm. 1355 Market St. at 10th St., 510-653-3394.

Speaking of Blue Bottle, the large new downtown location in the 115 Sansome building is getting ready to open on Wednesday June 17th. To recap, this location will offer some light food options in addition to coffee and pastries, like waffles, sandwiches, and oatmeal. We’ll keep you posted. 115 Sansome St. at Bush, 510-653-3394.

Nothing takes the edge off a long day of downtown shopping like coffee with a little kick, and now you can get it at ~IRON HORSE COFFEE BAR~, located inside Romper Room. Sprudge mentioned the Maiden Lane caffeination station back in March, noting that they are serving Ritual Coffee and offer some brightly colored outdoor seating. Now, according to UrbanDaddy, they are also serving spiked coffee, including choices like the Cowboy (bourbon plus coffee) and the Horseshoe (espresso, Baileys, half-and-half, whiskey). Giddy up. 25 Maiden Ln. at Kearny, 415-623-9629.

According to reports on Yelp, there’s a new coffee spot in the Sunset called ~BLANC CAFE~. It’s moved into the former Mellow Mellow space, and initial reports cite friendly service, updated decor, and an extensive tea selection in addition to coffee and espresso beverages. 549 Irving St. at 7th Ave., 415-592-8174.

David Rio, a chai company started in Bernal Heights back in 1996, has now opened a flagship retail store and café in Mid-Market, called ~CHAI BAR~. This is the first storefront for the company, which until now has only been available at local spots like The Grove or Delessio Market. The space is designed as a retail shop, where you can buy their chai blends to take home, and as a chai bar specializing in different chai lattes. Many blends will be available, including their signature Tiger Spice blend, as well as a Maple Moose blend sweetened with maple syrup and a less sweet, spicy version called Cub Chai. The animal names aren’t just about being cute: they make significant donations to animal protection groups both local and international.

There is also an espresso bar serving beans from Emeryville roaster McLaughlin Coffee, and of course lots of options to mix coffee and various chai blends. Fans of nut milks will be happy to hear that many different choices are available, including almond and hazelnut, alongside cow’s milk from Straus Family Creamery. Right now, they are still ramping up operations at the chai bar; look for a chai lab for testing and sampling new flavors in the coming months. They also plan to add boba chai, hot chocolate add-ons, and many other customizable options soon. Current hours are Mon-Fri 7am-8pm, with weekend hours coming by July. 1019 Market St. at 6th St., 415-865-0677.


The breakfast spread at Sequoia Diner. Photo from Facebook.


The iconic Oscar’s building. Yelp photo by Rick H.

Laurel District café ~SEQUOIA DINER~ hosted a soft opening this weekend and will be softly open again this Thursday and Friday; it officially opens for business on Saturday May 30th. The project, which we reported on in April, comes from partners Andrew Vennari and Sequoia Broderson, who have worked in East Bay restaurants like Duende and Camino. The café is darling, with cute vintage details and a clean, white, green, and gray palate. The café is open for breakfast and lunch Wednesday through Sunday, and most of the menu items are made in-house, including the breads, jams, sausages, and bacon. Follow along on their Facebook page for further updates. Hours are 8am-2pm Wed-Sun. 3719 MacArthur Blvd. at Loma Vista, Oakland, 510-482-3719.

~SALSIPUEDES~, the upcoming project from Jay Porter (of Oakland’s Half Orange), Luis Abundis (of Nieves Cinco de Mayo), and Bradford Taylor (of Ordinaire Wine Shop) that we mentioned a year ago, is getting ready to open in North Oakland in June. The team has announced their new executive chef, Marcus Krauss, who previously worked at the Restaurant at Meadowood. Salsipuedes will be serving “rustic California” food in the communal, festive environment of a dinner party or barbecue. Everything will be designed to be enjoyed family style, and the food will be inspired by the flavors of Baja California and Asia, as well as California’s own ingredients. The wine and beer list, from Porter, will consist entirely of West Coast producers. 4201 Market St. at 42nd St., Oakland.

We’ve been tracking this one for a while, and now an announcement on Facebook confirms that the Temescal location of ~ROSAMUNDE SAUSAGE GRILL~ is now open. The menu offers the same selection of beer and sausage as the previous locations, and they are celebrating the opening with a party on Thursday June 11th from 6pm to 10pm. They’ll be grilling sausages, offering beer specials, and generally having a grand old time. The restaurant’s hours are Sun-Tue 11am-10pm and Wed-Sat 11am-11pm. 4659 Telegraph Ave. at 47th St., 510-338-3536.

Washington D.C.-based chain ~SWEETGREEN~ is opening a location in Berkeley, according to Eater. They’ve already opened in Los Angeles, serving salads, healthy bowls, and more, using seasonal and local ingredients; here’s the LA menu. The Berkeley location will be housed in the iconic Oscar’s Burgers building, and they plan to preserve the architectural charm of the space, if not the style of food. Construction begins in the next month, and they are planning a fall opening. 1890 Shattuck Ave. at Hearst.

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