February 2, 2016

February 2, 2016
1-leos-conservatory.png

Custom floral wallpaper at Leo’s. Photo via Leo’s Instagram.

2-Leos-rawbar.jpg

Selection from the raw bar. Photo: Aubrie Pick.

4-Leos-bar.jpg

The bar and banquette seating. Photo: Aubrie Pick.

Now open in the former Wexler’s space is ~LEO’S OYSTER BAR~ from the Big Night Restaurant Group (Park Tavern, The Cavalier, Marlowe), and it’s a looker, which is what happens when Ken Fulk is your group’s design director (he worked with Jon de la Cruz on the space). The custom floral wallpaper, hanging ferns, gilt scallop shell sconces, and bamboo-caned barstools lend an air of sultry, tropical glamour.

As you make your way past the “conservatory,” you’ll note the hand-waxed mahogany paneling, a hammered brass raw bar, banquettes, and uplit onyx cocktail bar. The 40-seat space will also be gaining a Champagne bar, due to open on Valentine’s Day.

The menu is heavily focused on seafood, with executive chef Jenn Puccio assembling a list of oysters (raw or hot, including a “carbonara” version with pancetta), crudos, and toasts topped with fried shrimp and bacon (a spin on the classic Chinese shrimp toast) or urchin. Housemade tater tots, gougères, and a couple of variations of french fries (don’t miss the burger fries, topped with cheddar cheese sauce, aioli, bacon, caramelized onions, and crisp shredded lettuce), all so properly built for Champagne. Louie salad with rock shrimp, crab, or a combo of the two, check.

Warm plates include seafood bisque, clam chowder, and larger plates like a lobster roll and mussels en papillote. And for those who aren’t leaning toward a seafood entrée can go for the braised short ribs. You can finish the night with desserts by pastry chef Emily Luchetti served in vintage glassware.

You can come by for afternoon cocktails (many are low alcohol) and bites starting at 3pm, and then make your way into the evening menu at dinner service. The list of Champagnes is extensive and deep, plus some local and international sparklers are available too. As for the name, it’s an homage to partners Anna Weinberg and James Nicholas’s adorable son, Leo.

Hours (for now) are Mon-Wed 3pm-10pm, Thu-Fri 3pm-11pm, and Sat 5:30pm-11pm; lunch will be added soon. 568 Sacramento St. at Sansome, 415-872-9982.

TBD.Interior.jpg

TBD’s dining area (on the main floor). Photo: Nathan Ziebell.

z-sababa-falafel.jpg

A preview of Sababa’s falafel pita sandwich at 2015’s Outside Lands. Photo via Facebook.

After ~TBD~ in SoMa closed after a nasty fire more than a year ago (insurance claims are a tedious thing), Inside Scoop reveals what’s opening next in the space: ~ FÉNIX~.

And here’s the surprise twist: Mercer Restaurant Group owner Matt Semmelhack and chef-owner Mark Liberman (AQ) have decided it’s going to be a Mexican restaurant. Look for a menu of small plates, shareable dishes, and sangria (it’s just beer and wine).

Semmelhack tells me the service style will have some similarities to a classic Korean barbecue joint (but without the grill in the center of the table). Diners will choose a couple main courses (probably 2-3 for a party of 2), and then a bunch of little bites and sides will come out automatically and quickly (like banchan), think 10-15 ramekins of salsas, plates of warm, housemade tortillas, beans, queso, etc. Mains will feature larger portions of meats and vegetables, many slow-roasted or from the plancha, and are designed to be shared.

They are working toward an April opening, with more details to emerge in the coming months. 1077 Mission St. at 7th St.

Another project coming from the Mercer Restaurant Group: after running a few pop-ups of ~SABABA~—the fast casual/Middle Eastern street food project from Israeli-born Guy Eshel (a cook from AQ)—he will be opening a brick-and-mortar location in the former Paladar in the FiDi. Eater reports the menu will have a healthy slant. The focus is on flavor, but the food is inherently healthy and includes many vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.

We checked in with Eshel, who tells us the menu can be enjoyed three different ways. First you select from these options: pita sandwich, bowl with selection of mezzo salads (like roasted beet salad with sheep’s milk lebne and za’atar), or a hummus plate. Next you choose your protein: falafel (their signature item), sabik (fried eggplant and slow-baked egg), shawarma-spiced chicken, and more. There are going to be extra toppings to customize your meal with such as olives, feta, toasted almonds, or avocado. There is also a self-serve and complimentary pickle bar with housemade hot sauces too.

They’re trying to source as much local and organic produce and meats as possible, and making everything from scratch. They will be baking pitas in a Wood Stone oven, a beautiful stone hearth that is gas-fired. It’s going to be primarily a take-out situation, with just 14 seats inside. Look for an opening later this spring—it’s a big remodel. 329 Kearny St. at Bush.

ijji-chefs.jpg

The Ijji Sushi crew. Photo via Facebook.

A few quick opening updates for you, starting with ~IJJI SUSHI~, which we mentioned was coming to the Divisadero Corridor and is having its grand opening tonight (February 2nd). To recap, this is a traditional nigiri sushi bar (served piece by piece, although you can request omakase, which starts with eight pieces), with seafood sourced primarily from Japan. There are only 16 seats (8 at the counter and 8 table seats), and it’s from the chef-owner of Saru in Noe Valley, Billy Kong, and the chef-owner of Seiya in San Carlos, Kuo Hwa Chuang, and Amanda Tsung. Ijji is open for dinner only, Tue-Sun 5pm-10pm. 252 Divisadero St. at Haight, 415-658-7388.

Meanwhile, over in Japantown, the Ramen Underground location has closed (Kearny remains open), and ~IZAKAYA UMAI~ is taking its place (the 65-seat restaurant is due to open Wednesday February 10th). The menu will include sushi, sashimi, maki, yakitori, donburi, shioyaki, bento boxes, ramen, udon, soba, and appetizers. It will be open for lunch and dinner. 22 Peace Plaza #530, 415-658-7196.

As for other Japanese places on the horizon, the hotly anticipated ~MENSHO RAMEN~ could possibly open within the week (more from me next Tuesday on this place). I also hear ~MOSU~ is now targeting a couple of weeks out for its opening on Fillmore (more here), and ~JU-NI~ coming to Fulton Street should be close too.

steep-coffeetea.jpg

Some of the different lattes available at Steep: matcha, taro, and traditional. Yelp photo by Alvin Y.

There’s a new coffee, tea, and boba shop in the former Twofish Baking on Ritch Street in SoMa: ~STEEP~. They are offering espresso drinks, pour-over coffee from Equator, and a variety of tea drinks, from regular steeped tea to milk tea with boba (not something so easy to find in this part of town) to Thai iced tea. You’ll also find some acai bowls, baked goods, and more, like taro and matcha lattes. Open Mon-Fri 8am-5pm. 240 Ritch St. at Brannan.

Potrero Hill coffee fans will be sad to hear that ~FRONT~ has closed up shop after three years at their original location (150 Mississippi St.) and will be moving to the Mission. While the location has not been revealed, we’ll let you know when we hear the address!

The former Philz Coffee in the Castro is going to have Noe Valley’s ~BERNIE’S COFFEE~ move in to the space, their third location. Hoodline says there will also be baked goods from Raison D’Être and Nucha Empanadas. The opening should be happening very soon, they’re just waiting on an inspection from the Health Department. 4023 18th St. at Noe.