September 29, 2015

September 29, 2015
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Wexler’s exterior. Photo by Mathew Sumner.

Fans of oysters and lobster rolls will perk up with this news: the former Wexler’s space in the Financial District is going to become ~LEO’S LUXURY OYSTER BAR~ from the ever-busy Big Night Restaurant Group (Marlowe, Park Tavern, and the Cavalier). Scoop mentions chef Jennifer Puccio will be assembling a menu of classic raw bar items, plus seafood bisque, chowder, grilled oysters, salads, and more. Like, caviar sandwiches. To accompany it all will be Champagnes, rosé, and craft cocktails. Pastry chef Emily Luchetti will make sure you end the night on a sweet note.

The 40-seat space is going to have a small lounge in the front, with a large bar in the middle, and the back area will have banquette seating. Ken Fulk and Jon de la Cruz are designing the space (expect a midcentury look with marble and brass accents). The plan is to open by the end of the year.

As for the Leo in the name, it’s in honor of owners Anna Weinberg and James Nicholas’s adorable son. 568 Sacramento St. at Montgomery.

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The Pine Street location of La Boulangerie de San Francisco. Yelp photo by J W.

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The former La Boulange du Dome; Yelp photo by Luis C.

A report by Dana Eastland: Back in June, the news hit that Starbucks would be closing all 23 of the La Boulange locations the corporation purchased from Pascal Rigo back in 2012. Well, now that the dust has settled, The San Francisco Business Times reports that Rigo will be reopening six of the former La Boulange locations independently.

He can’t call them La Boulange, though, since he sold that name to Starbucks, so instead he’ll be calling them ~LA BOULANGERIE DE SAN FRANCISCO~. Rigo plans to open the Pine Street location first, on Thursday October 1st. He’ll follow that up by opening in five other former locations, one per week: Cole Valley, Fillmore Street, Hayes Valley, Union Street, and Noe Valley.

As for Rigo’s plans for the new(ish) locations, he’ll be keeping the menu focused on pastry, but “a lot more rustic than it was…big slices of everything, with lots of fruit and less cream,” he says. He also plans to keep the revamped mini-chain small and will be cautious about growth moving forward. As he says, after the Starbucks misadventure, “we want to be better than we ever were—we cannot screw it up.” As for the rest of the chain’s locations, including those in Los Angeles and the North Bay, Los Angeles-based chain Lemonade is reportedly interested in some of them, and we have news below about an exciting development at the Westfield Under the Dome location. The first La Boulangerie de San Francisco to (re)open will be at 2325 Pine St. at Fillmore.

The speculation over what will happen with the remaining Boulange locations continues (the Business Times referred to it as a real estate “feeding frenzy”), but at least one has been spoken for through the end of the year. ~LA COCINA~ will be moving into the Westfield Mall location, in the Under the Dome restaurant collection.

According to an announcement on Facebook, they’ll be opening the new location on Thursday October 1st. We heard from the La Cocina team that this will actually be a temporary café and market called ~EL MERCADO~. They’ll be selling Equator coffee, pastries from Hayes Valley Bakeworks and Pinkie’s, and goods from La Cocina businesses including Crumble & Whisk, Dough & Co, Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement, A Girl Named Pinky, and Don Bugito.

To start, the café will be in a bit of a soft opening phase, but Fernay McPherson (Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement) and Adriana Lahl (Sal de Vida) will be employed by La Cocina as the cafe’s head chefs and will be adding more hot food options moving forward. Then, in November, the location will add dry goods and gift items for the holiday season, so you can get a bite and do plenty of holiday shopping all in one place. Right now, the plan is to stay open through the end of the year, but our fingers are crossed that they are able to stay longer! Hours are daily 10am-8:30pm. 865 Market St. at 5th St., Fourth Floor.

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Kit Fox’s jackfruit “carnitas” sandwich, with fermented peppers, slaw, and cheese. Photo: Aubrie Pick.

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Vegan French dip sandwich, with horseradish au jus. Photo: Aubrie Pick.

While the plant-based ~CITIZEN FOX~ ramps up (har) for its springtime 2016 opening in the Mission at 2205 Mission Street, the team is launching a side project, ~KIT FOX~, in Mid-Market’s The Hall.

This plant-based sandwich shop has Citizen Fox executive chef Kevin Schuder (Millennium, AQ, Boulettes Larder/boulibar) at the helm, serving vegan versions of a French dip (with housemade seitan and horseradish au jus) and a Reuben (with housemade seitan and sauerkraut), plus jackfruit “carnitas” with fermented peppers, slaw, and “cheese.” There will be a tempeh and portobello mushroom banh mi (they turn the tempeh and portobello into a pâté with honey-free hoisin) and a sourdough caprese sandwich, with “mozzarella” (made of mostly coconut and a mixture of nuts), tomato, and basil-arugula pesto. (Most sandwiches are $10 or $11.) Side dishes include kale and couscous salad with currants and citrus; herbed potato and sunchoke salad; and chopped broccolini with preserved lemon and chile.

Kit Fox is opening Wednesday October 7th, serving Mon-Fri 11am-8pm. 1028 Market St. at 6th St.  

In the meantime, if you are curious about Citizen Fox, you can swing by for Friday dinner or Sunday brunch at their temporary location at 2293 Mission St. (the former Hapa Ramen). The dinnertime seasonal menu includes dishes like smoked gnocchi with tomato confit, grilled corn, and summer squash, and binchotan-grilled carrots with black chanterelles, peas, chervil, and harissa. Friday dinner service runs 6pm-10pm; Sunday brunch is 10:30am-3pm.

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The KoJa combo from KoJa Kitchen. Yelp photo by Keerati C.

~KOJA KITCHEN~ has opened up a new brick-and-mortar location on Clement Street in the Inner Richmond, according to Yelp reports and a Facebook announcement. The new location joins their Berkeley location and an upcoming Emeryville outpost, plus it looks like the brand has plans to expand and franchise in the coming months.

The location’s menu offers their signature KoJa, or sandwich made with fried garlic rice buns, plus tacos, rice bowls, and they’ve even got a beer and wine license. And, of course, the kamikaze fries are available. Hours are Sun-Mon 11am-9pm, Sat-Sun 11am-10pm. 343 Clement St. at 5th Ave., 415-463-5085.

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Sandwiches from Pinkie’s Bakery. Photo by Maria del Rio.

A report by Dana Eastland: The transition of Bernal’s Sandbox Bakery to ~PINKIE’S BAKERY~ that we reported in June is now complete. To recap, Sandbox owner Mutsumi Takehara sold the bakery on Cortland to Cheryl Storms and Chris Beerman, co-owners of Pinkie’s. Their original location in SoMa is still open, and now the Bernal spot allows them to offer even more of their artisanal breads, pastries, and cakes.

They are currently providing bread to many restaurants around town, including the Parker House rolls at 4505 Meats, burger buns at Starbelly, and rolls at New England Lobster Co., and will be able to take on even more clients. Beginning next week, Bernal residents can find Pinkie’s signature pastries at the new location, including their cake slices (whole cakes available by special order), doughnuts, signature pastries (hello, bacon brioche), and whoopie pies.

In addition to their sweet goods, the new location will be offering an all-new menu of sandwiches, all served on Pinkie’s breads, of course. Because they’ll be using the Bernal location’s kitchen in addition to the SoMa one, you’ll now be seeing Pinkie’s pastries at Ritual and Equator coffee shops too. Hours are Mon-Fri 6am-3pm and Sat-Sun 7am-3pm. 833 Cortland Ave. at Gates, 415-642-8580.

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1300 on Fillmore. Photo from Facebook.

It’s another week, which means even more news about chef moves. First up, while chef-owner David Lawrence of ~1300 ON FILLMORE~ ramps up in preparation of opening Black Bark (more on this upcoming barbecue place soon), he has named Jake Whitlock as chef de cuisine of 1300. Whitlock was previously at Ichi Sushi and will be updating dishes on the restaurant’s dinner, brunch, and happy hour menus, putting more of a focus on Low Country cuisine.

As originally noted in Eater: the talented David Wilcox (previously of Mill Valley Beerworks and Gjelina) is the new executive chef of ~AMOURA~ in South San Francisco. He’s there Monday through Thursday; he’s spending the rest of his time in Los Angeles, where he has pop-up dinners and is working on his own project. Look for a strong California influence on the updated Mediterranean menu. He has also brought in some former staff to help him execute his vision. 713 Linden Ave. at 8th Ln., South San Francisco, 650-754-6891.

Lastly, the city is going to be losing one of its most creative pastry chefs: Bill Corbett is leaving The Absinthe Group on Wednesday September 30th, as reported in Scoop. He was originally going to be opening his own restaurant project in Alameda, but that has shifted much farther south, and he will be going to Los Angeles instead. Details are TBD, but for now, he’ll still be around doing consulting while raising funds. Taking his place is sous chef Stephanie Kimura, who has worked with him the past two years.

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The swank interior of Mina Test Kitchen, a holdover from the former Café Claude Marina. Photo by Aubrie Pick.

Hopefully you have found the time to book a spot at ~MIDDLE’TERRANEA~ before the temporary and inaugural concept at MINA Test Kitchen wraps up on October 24th. Coming in hot is Little Italy, the next concept inspired by chef Adam Sobel’s Italian-American upbringing (at least the gaudy brocade wallpaper is going to feel more on concept). The new pop-up starts Saturday October 31st, with a Sunday supper, “nonna is cooking” style to it, featuring dishes like stuffed peppers, manicotti al forno, and veal and eggplant Parmesan. It will be $49 per person, exclusive of tax, gratuity, and beverages. Take a look at the preview menu here.

The wine list will also shift, featuring 20 approachable Italian wines by the glass and bottle, including a house wine on each table available by the honor system. Italian beers and low-proof cocktails inspired by Italian classics will also be served. 

Dinner will be served Wednesday through Saturday nights, and tickets are now available. 2120 Greenwich St. at Fillmore.

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The dining room at Bodega Bistro. Photo from Facebook.

A tablehopper reader sent us this unfortunate notice from the front door of ~BODEGA BISTRO~, showing that the SF Department of Public Health has closed the restaurant. We looked at the DPH records, but the specific infractions aren’t posted just yet. The notice dates back to September 14th, and a post on Yelp from September 27th says the restaurant is still closed; we have called the restaurant repeatedly and the phone just rings and rings. Here’s hoping they make the necessary changes and reopen soon.

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The classic interior at Manor Coffee Shop. Yelp photo by Ed U.

Earlier this month, Scoop mentioned that Ray Jeung, the owner of the classic ~MANOR COFFEE SHOP~ in West Portal, was selling the coffee shop, after taking it over 25 years ago from his parents (who opened it in 1967). And now a tablehopper reader writes in to say Jeung has found a buyer and will be closing sometime in November. We called to confirm the news, but they didn’t want to commit to a closing date quite yet. Go say farewell to the vintage space while you can—no word on who the new owner is, or what their plans for the space are. 321-A West Portal Ave. at 14th Ave., 415-661-2468.

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Some of the strong young ladies served by Girls Inc. Photo from Facebook.

As the fall season approaches, there are lots of opportunities to attend events that support some really wonderful causes. Here are just a few great ways to have a great time for a great cause.

On Wednesday October 14th, all you have to do is dine out in the Mission to raise money for Mission Graduates. This is the seventh annual Food for Thought event, and more than 20 Mission District restaurants are participating. Each participating restaurant agrees to donate 20 to 50 percent of their proceeds from that night to the Mission Graduates program, so all you have to do is eat. The participating restaurants include Bissap Baobab, Cease & Desist, Destino, Foreign Cinema, Panchita’s Pupuseria, Southpaw BBQ, and Hog & Rocks. Plus, there is a rockin’ raffle, with prizes ranging from vacations to tickets to local cultural institutions. Raffle tickets are $10 each, three for $25, or six for $50. Locations and prices of individual meals vary by restaurant.

Well, this is a kick-ass celebration of girls and women you won’t want to miss. Girls Inc. of Alameda County, an organization devoted to offering academic achievement programs and community service for girls in underserved areas, is throwing a benefit gala on Saturday October 24th called Taste 2015. Many of the Bay Area’s best female chefs have come together to create a four-course dinner, with a side of female empowerment. Participants include Julya Shin (Pizzaiolo), Preeti Mistry (Juhu Beach Club), Sophina Uong (Revival Bar & Kitchen), and Jen Biesty (Shakewell). There will, of course, be beverages at the event too. Tickets start at $300 per person, with VIP options available. The event begins at 5pm and is being held at the Simpson Center for Girls, 510 16th St. at Telegraph, Oakland, 510-357-5515 ext. 233.

The National Kidney Foundation is hosting its Annual Authors Luncheon on Saturday October 24th at the Marriott Marquis. Authors include chef Daniel Humm and Will Guidara of New York’s Eleven Madison Park and Nomad and non-food authors like Diana Nyad and Yeonmi Park, plus it’s all emceed by KQED’s Michael Krasny. The luncheon is from 10am-3pm. Tickets are $135 per person, tables begin at $1,200, and sponsorships begin at $2,500; register here. Proceeds benefit the National Kidney Foundation. 780 Mission St. at 4th St., 415-543-3303 for sponsorship information.

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The brunch crunch at Sous Buerre Kitchen. Photo by Wes Rowe.

The Mission’s ~SOUS BEURRE KITCHEN~ will begin weekend brunch service on Saturday October 10th, from 10am-2pm on Saturdays and Sundays. The menu offers French-style classics like quiche Lorraine with bacon, leeks, and Comté cheese, or more creative choices like the waffle-fried duck leg with braised kale and dandelion greens, and rosemary maple syrup. There is also the “brunch crunch”: a soft-boiled egg inside sous vide hash browns with bacon and plum mostarda. They will be shaking up a selection of brunch cocktails like the South of France (Imbue Petal & Thorn vermouth, Concord grapes, lemon). Brunch is counter service, and no reservations are accepted. 2704 24th St. at Potrero, 415-874-9831.

~CALAVERA~ has added daytime service, both during the week and on weekends. Lunch is served Monday through Friday 11am-3pm, while brunch is available Saturday and Sunday from 10am-3pm. The brunch menu offers egg-studded modern Mexican dishes, including the tacos de arrachera, or tacos with grilled hanger steak, scrambled eggs, and salsa, as well as enchiladas suizas with chihuahua cheese, smoked black beans, and a 63-degree egg. The bar is pouring cocktails, of course, including their margaritas and a piña colada mimosa.

As for the lunch menu, you’ll find their signature ceviches as well as tacos, including pollo en mole and cochinita pibil. There is also a selection of tortas, like the puerco con huevos, a braised pork shank with tomato, avocado, over-easy egg, black, beans, and salsa. Or try the pavo coloradito, a mole coloradito-rubbed turkey leg with queso fresco, pickled red onion, baby kale, and salsa xni pec. Hours are now Mon-Thu lunch 11am-3pm, regular menu 3pm-10pm; Fri lunch 11am-3pm, regular menu 3pm-11pm; Sat-Sun brunch 10am-3pm, regular menu 3pm-11pm. 2337 Broadway at 24th St., Oakland, 510-338-3273.

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The paella mixta from La Marcha. Photo by Phi Tran.

A report by Dana Eastland: Sergio Emilio Monleón and Emily Sarlatte, chefs who co-own the Ñora Cocina Española catering business, are getting ready to open their first brick-and-mortar location in Berkeley. It’s called ~LA MARCHA~, and it’s opening in October. The name comes from the notorious late-night bar crawl in Spain, fueled by tapas and drinks. The restaurant will offer more than 25 different tapas, as well as 8 or 9 paellas.

The pair has already become rather well known for their paella catering, and they plan to offer the signature rice dish in traditional preparations, like the paella Valenciana, with rabbit, duck, snail, and green beans, and more creative choices, like the paella tres cerditos with chorizo, smoked pork belly, pork loin, lima beans, leeks, and apple cider. The menu will change with the seasons, as well.

The bar at La Marcha will focus on sherries, with a selection of more than 20 of the fortified wine. They will offer sherry tasting flights for both sherry newcomers and those more experienced with the beverage, as well as occasional sherry tasting dinners on Mondays. In addition, there will be 30 old-world, Spanish-style wines available, with a focus on affordability, as well as three wines on tap. Plus, they will be pouring a rotating selection of Spanish-style dry ciders and local craft beers.

The restaurant, which opens in mid-October, is designed by Restaurant Design Concepts and will feature warm rustic elements, like wood, terra-cotta tile, and bricks, with modern, colorful accents in blue, red, and white. Hours will be Tue-Sun from 4pm-12am, with not just one but two happy hours, one from 4pm-6pm and another from 10pm-12am, when tapas are offered for free with drink purchased. Dinner is served Tue-Sun 5pm-10pm. 2026 San Pablo Ave. at University, Berkeley.

~STEEL RAIL~, a new café from the reggae-loving team of Temoor Noor, Steve Sparkes, and Effie Speigler, is now open in Jack London Square, according to Scoop. The café serves soups, salads, and sandwiches, all priced between $6 and $7, along with beer and wine on tap. Here’s the menu and drink list. For now, the hours are Mon-Fri 11am-3pm and Sat-Sun 8am-3pm. They plan to open until 8pm soon, with an extended menu that will include oysters, meat and cheese plates, and more. 439 Water St. at Broadway, Oakland, no phone.

Laurent De Barbier, who owns ~BRITTANY CRÊPES AND GALETTES~, is getting ready to open his first brick-and-mortar location in Berkeley in November. Brittany Crêpes and Galettes has already established quite a following, with their farmers’ market appearances and catering operation, and the new location will allow De Barbier to expand some of his offerings. De Barbier and his wife both hail from Brittany and bring authentic Breton style to their crêpes. For the savory crêpes, or galettes, they will be using the traditional buckwheat flour, while the sweet crêpes are made using white flour. The fillings will run the gamut from traditional (ham and cheese, strawberries and cream) to more seasonal and creative (braised leek with butter sauce). As De Barbier says, “there are no rules with fillings, it is dictated by the seasons and we can have fun.”

In addition to crêpes, look for entrée salads, charcuterie plates, and French-style ice cream. They also plan to offer beverages like wine, beer, and cider from Brittany. The space has seating for 35, and they plan to start with dinner service, then will add lunch and brunch later. And for those who love seeing De Barbier at their farmers’ market, don’t worry: he’ll continue to serve his crêpes there, as well. 913 University Ave. at 7th St.

If you love board games, listen up: Berkeleyside Nosh reports that there is a new café in Berkeley just for you. It’s called ~VICTORY POINT CAFÉ~, and it’s now open. They’ve got 750 (!) different board games, ranging from classics like Monopoly and Balderdash to the more unusual, like Munchkin and Qin. Here is a list of the games, but they will likely add more. They’ve also got coffee, tea, and snack bowls with nostalgic munchies like teddy grahams with raisins, yogurt-covered pretzels, chocolate-covered blueberries, and vanilla almond granola; you can peek the menu here. There is also a plan afoot to serve beer and wine. Hours are daily, 11am-late. 1797 Shattuck Ave. at Delaware, Berkeley, 510-982-6325.