October 6, 2015

October 6, 2015
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Photo of Corey Lee by Blair Sneddon Photography.

Leave it to culinary savant Corey Lee (Benu) to come up with such a groundbreaking restaurant concept, and yet at its heart, it’s based on imitation. Meet ~IN SITU~, his upcoming project opening in the new Snøhetta-designed SFMOMA in spring 2016.

The menu will feature rotating à la carte dishes from 80 international chefs that Lee is going to faithfully re-create. Recipes from innovative and legendary chefs like René Redzepi (Noma), Alice Waters (Chez Panisse), Thomas Keller (The French Laundry), Martin Picard (Au Pied de Cochon), Olivier Roellinger (Les Maisons de Bricourt), Andoni Luis Aduriz (Mugaritz), and Dominique Ansel (Dominique Ansel Kitchen) have been curated (like an art installation!) and contributed to the project. Lee is working closely with each chef on re-creating their signature dishes—and some of the dishes will be created specifically for In Situ.

Aidlin Darling Design (Bar Agricole, Scribe Winery) is behind the design, which will nearly double the square footage of the previous restaurant. There will be 150 seats, with a small area for reservations and a larger area available for walk-ins. The restaurant will be visible from the street and have a simple, comfortable, open environment, with a wood ceiling canopy. In Situ will serve lunch and dinner.

If you want to read more about the project, check out this article in WSJ. Magazine’s October issue, which has an exclusive, in-depth profile of Lee and the project. A quote from Lee in the piece: “Five years ago, I made the decision to tune out international trends, to stay away from cooking conferences and events, all to create an identity for Benu that isn’t easily identifiable. Now it’s the opposite. It’s all about immersion, building relationships and working with chefs from around the world in a deep and lasting way.”

A couple more notes: The fifth-floor café, Cafe 5, will also open in spring 2016, offering California dishes like flatbreads, organic salads, and open-faced sandwiches. It will be operated by McCalls, who also operate cafes in the de Young, Legion of Honor, and Asian Art museums. Guests will be able to dine in the rooftop sculpture garden and be served tableside.

On the third floor, Sightglass at SFMOMA will provide coffee beverages, espresso drinks, and pastries from San Francisco bakeries and pastry chefs. Guests will be able to bring their coffee into the museum’s new Photography Interpretive Gallery.

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The garden at Grand Fare. Photo by Michael David Rose Photography, courtesy of UrbanDaddy.

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The market hall at Grand Fare. Photo by Michael David Rose Photography, courtesy of UrbanDaddy.

Almost a couple of months ago, I had a chance to attend a preview party for ~GRAND FARE~, a beautiful new epicurean market with a spacious outdoor garden, just down the street from Penrose. It’s one of those places that only Oakland could have—San Francisco just doesn’t have the urban real estate available (nor the balmy weather to enjoy the patio). The garden reminded me of a dream location you’d find in Silver Lake or Los Feliz (in Los Angeles), with eclectic antique fixtures and a bohemian vibe.

This is all from the stylish minds of restaurateur Doug Washington (Town Hall, Salt House, Anchor & Hope, and Irving Street Kitchen in Portland) and his wife, artist Freya Prowe. When you walk through the antique iron gates, you’ll find a 3,500-square-foot courtyard to the right, full of tall trees, ivy-covered brick walls, native plants, and tables and chairs (75 seats in all), which is where you’ll want to sit with your cappuccino (they are using SF’s Linea Coffee) and a housemade pastry that you ordered from the 1946 Spartan Mansion trailer parked in the courtyard—take a peek inside, it got souped up with a mahogany and penny-tiled interior. Also on the trailer menu: sandwiches, gluten-free treats, and Humphry Slocombe ice cream. And then you’ll want to come back to the garden again in the afternoon for oysters and Champagne, or charcuterie and wine. See you there.

Meanwhile, to the left inside the building is the massive 4,500-square-foot epicurean market, which seems to take some visual inspiration from French markets and Ottolenghi’s deli in Notting Hill. (Washington worked closely with Robert Fink of Fink Architecture.) The space features its original concrete floors, plus an exposed beam ceiling that’s been painted white. The room is full of natural light from the tall plate-glass windows and oversized skylights. It has a clean and classic look, with white marble counters, British blue-painted cabinetry, and vintage slate accents. You’ll also note murals and paintings by Prowe, as well as a rotating collection of artwork by local artists.

There are counters and a center island with cases where you can purchase raw oysters (the raw bar has seven seats where you can perch), housemade charcuterie, seasonal farmers’ market salads (like kale salad with green romesco dressing, and seared cabbage with Medjool date vinegar and pistachio pesto), grab-and-go items, and an array of quality cheeses.

There’s also a rotisserie station, with hot savory dishes and sandwiches, like a leg of lamb sandwich from the rotisserie with stewed peppers and chimichurri and basil yogurt; a rotisserie porchetta sandwich with house sauerkraut, Russian dressing, and Gruyère; and whole-roasted peri peri chicken.

The culinary team includes executive chef Ben Coe (previously Box & Bells and Commis) and sous chefs Frederico Oliveira, Drew Boczon, and Eric Cordova. The team will be doing some excellent sourcing, and Ryan Voss serves as the house forager. All selections highlight artisan producers and feature local, organic, and handmade foods.

Whether you want to grab a bite and enjoy it on the patio, or pick something up to bring home for dinner, your bases are covered. There are also many grocery items in case you need to pick up some eggs and milk. You’ll also see cases full of domestic and imported wines (60 boutique wines in all) and beers (also on tap).

In the front of the space is Prowe’s first Brother & Sisters floral shop. Prowe has worked more than 20 years in the floral design business, so expect some gorgeous seasonal bouquets, planted arrangements, and she can work with you on event services too.

Look for upcoming public classes on workshops on everything from bread baking to coffee roasting to winemaking, plus other monthly events and ongoing collaborative projects. The entire team is really excited to open this unique space for the community to enjoy, a project they have been working so hard on for some time.

Hours: coffee service at the trailer 7am-10pm, market hours are 11am-10pm. Online ordering and curbside pickup will begin in November. 3265 Grand Ave. at Elwood, Oakland, 510-899-9610.

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The chef’s table at Octavia. Photo by Wes Rowe.

Just in time for holiday parties and gatherings is the new chef’s table at ~OCTAVIA~, an interactive dining experience for up to 12 people. The seating is in the center of the restaurant’s lower kitchen and offers a multicourse meal perfect for a festive occasion. It’s available any night the restaurant is open, and reservations are required. You’ll need to plan a menu and wine pairings in advance too. The chef’s table begins at $1,200, and reservations can be made via email.

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Bagels from Leaven Bagel. Photo from Facebook.

A report by Dana Eastland. Holey bagel news, Batman! Bagels have been on everyone’s mind lately, and now two new businesses are taking on the chewy, boiled delight. First is ~LEAVEN BAGEL~, which has been serving bagels at the Fort Mason farmers’ market and via pop-ups (mostly in Santa Cruz). Owner Alison Lee is making the bagels by hand and boiling them properly for the right level of chew. She’s taking inspiration from the bagel styles of New York (density and texture), Montreal (a dash of honey is added to the dough) and San Francisco (she’s using a natural leavening style to get a touch of sourdough flavor). The menu offers classic bagel flavors as well as a seasonally changing special and housemade cream cheese spreads. Hours at the farmers’ market are Sunday 9:30am-1:30pm, but be aware they do sell out sometimes. You can also follow along on Instagram for information about upcoming pop-ups.

For a pop-up bagel experience, make your way to ~SHEGETZ BAGEL~ at PizzaHacker on Sunday October 11th. Their bagels are made with a sourdough starter, hand rolled, and freshly baked and boiled. They are only serving them cut and topped with house toppings, which vary and start at $5. The team behind Shegetz is Oliver Steele (Pizzetta 211), Ben Kaminsky (Blue Bottle), and Alex Rogers (Local’s Corner, 20th Century Cafe), and they are using “West Coast” methods, so come expecting something delicious—but maybe not a New York copycat, mmmmmkay? The pop-up begins at 10am and goes until they sell out; coffee and wine will also be available. H/t Mission Mission. 3299 Mission St. at 29th St.

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Colorful trays from Lemonade. Photo courtesy of Lemonade.

Last week we mentioned that there were rumors that Los Angeles-based chain ~LEMONADE~ was in talks to move into some of the former La Boulange locations vacated by Starbucks earlier this year. Well, now it’s official: Lemonade has indeed secured three former La Boulange locations and will be opening their seasonal fast-casual concept in The Metreon, on University Ave. in Palo Alto, and in Walnut Creek. The plan is to open in spring 2016, serving fresh, seasonal fare in a relaxed, quick-service environment. While each location offers a slightly different look and menu, you can get a sense of the food from this menu, from their Pasadena location.

Maurizio Bruschi and Giuseppe Terminiello of Ideale in North Beach are teaming up for a new project, according to Hoodline. It’s called ~PICCOLO FORNO~, or “small oven” in Italian, and will fill a neighborhood niche for quality food that is still affordable. It’s in the same vein as an Italian rosticceria and will offer items all day long, including espresso, pastries, light lunch items, and plates of pasta in the evening. They are also planning to apply for a liquor license. Opening is currently slated for later this fall. 725 Columbus Ave. at Filbert.

On Wednesday October 7th, ~PROPER FOOD~ is opening a third location in the Financial District. The latest location will offer plenty of grab-and-go options for breakfast and lunch, including egg and sausage sandwiches in the morning, salads and sandwiches at lunch, and fresh juices. Here’s the menu. Hours are Mon-Fri 7am-5pm. 350 California St. at Sansome, 415-481-3217.

Bwok bwooook! If you’re a fan of chicken wings, you’ll want to hit up the ~WING WINGS FOURTH ANNUAL CHICKEN WING EATING CONTEST~ on Saturday October 10th at the SoMa StrEat Food Park. The party goes from 12pm-4pm, and there are two contests: a timed event and a “hella hella hot” event (and we mean hella). They’re still seeking contestants and donations for the raffle; more information is available on the event’s Facebook page.

If you just want to attend the event, you can! There will be plenty of wings and drinks available, plus raffle tickets and fun activities for kids and adults. The event is raising funds for The Precita Eyes Muralists. 428 11th St. at Harrison, 415-834-5001.

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Pastries at Knead Patisserie. Photo from Facebook.

The Mission has lost a favorite bakery: ~KNEAD PATISSERIE~ closed on Saturday October 3rd, according to a tweet. For those missing their pomme d’amour and croissants, follow along on Facebook, because they mention plans to reopen within a year in Lodi. Shauna Desvoignes, the owner of Knead, has moved with her husband Jake to the country, though Jake will stay on as chef at ~LOCAL MISSION EATERY~. However, while they figure out his commuting and other shifts within the company, Local Mission Eatery is going to pause their brunch service and ramp up their small plates and by-the-glass wine offerings in the next few weeks. 3111 24th St. at Folsom, 415-655-3422.

Hawkeyed Chowhounds caught the closure of the Outer Richmond location of ~ENJOY VEGETARIAN~, and Yelpers confirmed it. The Chinatown and Sunset locations remain open, though. 5344 Geary Blvd. at 18th Ave.

Another oyster business in West Marin has attracted regulations and drama, and this time it’s the picnic area at ~TOMALES BAY OYSTER COMPANY~ that’s in hot water. As of Sunday October 11th, the picnic tables and grills will all be removed due to permitting issues with Marin County, SFist reports. The county cites concerns about traffic and safety, though the Marin County Planning Commission recently denied a request from Tomales Bay Oyster Company for a permit to add additional parking and legalize their current picnic setup.

After October 11th, the company will only be able to sell oysters to go on Fridays from 12pm to 5pm and Saturdays and Sunday from 9am to 5pm. Since picnickers represent about 60 percent of the company’s business, they’ve had to lay off 13 workers and are concerned about their financial stability moving forward. For more information on nearby beaches where you can picnic after purchasing oysters on the weekends, head here. Please feel free to sign this petition in support of the multigenerational family business. The current plan is to reapply for a permit and hope for the best. 15479 Shoreline Hwy., Marshall.

Speaking of local politics and drama, The Bay Area Reporter has a very interesting article on vacant spaces in the Castro owned by neighborhood investor Les Natali. Apparently, after the announcement of the pending closure of ~ZAPATA~ last month due to a lease dispute with Natali, the Castro Merchants Association wrote an open letter to him, expressing concerns over the many empty storefronts he owns in the neighborhood (Zapata is due to close on October 16th, after being open since 1993). There are a few lawyers involved at this point and, of course, lots of opinions. Stay tuned.

Eater reports that Marina sushi spot ~YUZU~ has closed, and a note on their website confirms it. They hint that there are plans afoot to reopen elsewhere, perhaps in Sacramento. 3347 Fillmore St. at Chestnut.

A couple of weeks ago, we mentioned that ~PAL’S TAKEAWAY~ is moving to the East Bay, and just wanted to remind everyone that Friday October 9th is their last day in the Mission before reopening in The Hive in Oakland.

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The interior of Asha Tea House, now open on Kearny. Photo courtesy of Asha Tea House.

By Dana Eastland. We love tea around here, and now there’s a new place in town to warm up (or cool down) with the delicious beverage. ~ASHA TEA HOUSE~, the already-popular tea spot in Berkeley, has moved west with a second location on Kearny in the Financial District. They are pouring teas from a variety of places, including China, Taiwan, Japan, and Britain, all impeccably sourced from farmers by owner David Lau.

There are a few different ways to experience their teas. You can try pure teas served tableside in their traditional vessel, with the intention of introducing customers to the ways various cultures approach tea service. There is also a variety of milk teas and boba teas, which are made from scratch, including housemade condensed milk. Or check out the variety of changing teas infused with seasonal fruits, with options like kumquat green tea, a housemade Earl Grey made with real, fresh bergamot, and even a pumpkin spice tea latte, made with real pumpkin. There is also a whole section of the menu devoted exclusively to matcha, as well as a selection of herbal tisanes. Here is the full menu for your perusal.

They also offer a large selection of retail items, including loose-leaf tea and lots of equipment for your own at-home tea service. And if you’d like to geek out on the origins of their teas, check out the page of their website devoted to showing where their teas come from. The San Francisco teahouse is currently softly open with hours Mon-Sat 11:30am-6:30pm. 17 Kearny St. at Geary, no phone yet.

In the Castro, the former 18th Street location of ~PHILZ~ has relocated to a much larger space on Castro. Hoodline reports that the new location not only offers more space for additional coffee stations (meaning faster service) and more customers, but also allows them to serve more food items, including breakfast burritos, bagels, and breakfast sandwiches. In the coming weeks, there are also plans afoot to add outdoor seating and additional food items. Hours are Mon-Fri 6am-8:30pm, Sat-Sun 7am-8pm. 549 Castro St. at 18th St., 415-321-6276.

And some big news: Peet’s Coffee and Tea bought Portland’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters—you can read all about it in this Sprudge piece, which confirms that Stumptown will continue to operate independently.

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Lidia Bastianich. Photo by Diana De Lucia.

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Now that it’s really starting to feel like fall, it’s time to start thinking about the season’s lineup of authors and events around town. First, the ~JCCSF~ has a bunch of great speakers coming up as part of their Arts and Ideas series. Don’t miss the Essential Taste-and-Talk Guide to Becoming a Whiskey Know-It-All on Wednesday October 28th. Richard Betts and Wendy MacNaughton will be talking about their new book, The Essential Scratch-and-Sniff Guide to Becoming a Whiskey Know-It-All, which includes tasting notes on the delicious brown spirit, as well as MacNaughton’s illustrations. In addition to discussing whiskey and its many flavor profiles, they will also be leading a tasting and doing live, onstage illustrations. Tickets are $47 per person (10 percent off for all JCC members), and the event begins at 7pm.

On Thursday November 5th, the one and only Lidia Bastianich will be in conversation with Delfina owner Craig Stoll. The prolific author on Italian food will be talking about her new book, Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine. She’ll be sharing some of her kitchen secrets, and there will also be treats from Delfina available for sale. Tickets start at $57 per person and include a copy of the book; the event begins at 7pm.

Nigella Lawson, cookbook author and mega television personality, will be at the JCCSF on Monday November 16th, discussing her new book, Simply Nigella. Tickets to the event start at $32, and the event begins at 7pm. It will be preceded by a complimentary wine tasting. 3200 California St. at Presidio, 415-292-1200.

~OMNIVORE BOOKS~ also has a spectacular lineup of author events this fall that you won’t want to miss. You can see them all here, and be sure to check out a cocktail reception with chef Enrique Olvera on Tuesday October 20th at Bar Agricole from 6pm-9pm. He’ll be discussing his new book, Mexico from the Inside Out. The event includes food inspired by the book, as well as wine and cocktails. Tickets are $75, and copies of the book will be available for purchase.

There are lots more events at Omnivore to check out, including book signings with Karen MacNeil, David Lebovitz, and Yotam Ottolenghi, plus off-site events like another cocktail party at Bar Agricole, with Daniel Humm and Will Guidara. The whole lineup is here, and even if you can’t make it to the events, be sure to stop by your local bookstore to check out some of these great authors and their cookbooks.

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The new Berkeley location of Flour and Co. Photo courtesy of Flour and Co.

By Dana Eastland. ~FLOUR AND CO.~, the Nob Hill bakery from owner Emily Day, has opened a second location in Berkeley (we mentioned it was coming earlier this year). The menu offers brunch and lunch items every day, including options like an English muffin breakfast sandwich, egg pie, granola and yogurt, and a seasonal, savory oatmeal. For lunch, there are daily changing sandwiches, salads, and soups, plus a combo of half a sandwich with either soup or salad. There is also a selection of pastries, like seasonal muffins and cookies, carrot cake, seasonal pies, and breads. There’s Stumptown coffee too. They are also offering breakfast and lunch catering, with delivery to Oakland and Berkeley. Hours are daily 6:30am-6pm. 1398 University Ave. at Acton, Berkeley, 510-883-3650.

Berkeley’s Epicurious Garden Food Hall is home to the now-open ~HERBS N’ CHICKEN~, a rotisserie chicken spot serving whole birds for takeaway, as well as salads and sides. Peek (and peck) at the menu here. 1511 Shattuck Ave. at Vine, Berkeley, 510-529-4338.

Berkeley vegan deli ~THE BUTCHER’S SON~ tried to open a brick-and-mortar location earlier this year, but had to call off plans in June. Now, a liquor license application shows that they’ll be moving to the space on University currently occupied by Athineon. Peter Fikaris, one of the owners of Butcher’s Son, let us know that they are still in the process of securing the space but should have the keys sometime in December. After that, they plan to serve the same vegan dishes that have garnered them quite a following and hope to add dinner service to the lineup as well. Athineon will remain open until December. 1914A University Ave. at MLK, Berkeley.