November 15, 2016

November 15, 2016
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Bison keema. Photo courtesy of James Bueti.

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Gol guppa flight with different flavored waters. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Paneer kebab. Photo courtesy of James Bueti.

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Paneer large plate. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Cricket Cup. Photo courtesy of James Bueti.

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The lounge area and seating. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The blue velvet booths and large-party dining table. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

~AUGUST 1 FIVE~ is now open, serving lunch and dinner. Meet your new pre-symphony or opera destination, and nearby workers should be happy with this option as well. As I’ve mentioned before, owner Hetal Shah is a partner in Red Hot Chilli Pepper in San Carlos. She has hired chef Manish Kumar Tyagi, previously at the acclaimed Rasika in Washington, DC, and locally at Amber India. The restaurant’s name refers to the date of India’s independence from British rule.

The upscale Indian menu is inspired by Northern Indian regional cuisines and features seasonal influences and modern techniques. Don’t come here expecting tikka masala and butter chicken—chef Tyagi has many more dishes to show you. The small plates portion of the menu is extensive, including a gol guppa flight ($8), which is his updated version of pani puri with rice added to the shell for extra crunch, and a series of five waters you pour in beyond the usual mint and tamarind.

Square arancini ($10) are a spin on his mother’s recipe of fried patties of rice and lentils, with the additional flair of goat cheese. Paneer kebab ($11) from the tandoor ovens in the kitchen is actually like a little sandwich with red chile paste inside, with a punch from mustard powder. Palak chaat ($8) features fried leaves of baby spinach, with layers of flavor and texture, like garbanzo, tamarind, and yogurt. A crock of bison keema ($16) is a substantial dish that’s loaded with flavor and spices—you treat it like a sloppy joe and spoon it inside the house-baked pao, which are like little Parker House rolls. The breads are housemade, including a trio of naan ($9) stuffed with a variety of fillings. There are 18 small plates, mind you.

Large plates range from tandoori sea bass ($29) to tender lamb chops ($32) slathered in a cashew paste and spiked with cardamom and mace. Chef Tyagi uses sustainable seafood, organic meats, and has a strong focus on local sourcing as well. Vegetarians will find a clever execution of rolls of paneer ($19) stuffed with pistachio, mint, and fenugreek inside, in a creamy tikka-like sauce, plus soy kofta ($17), and there are two kind of biryani, either vegetarian or chicken.

The plating is elegant and sophisticated, but not too fussy, and you’ll definitely feel fed without getting stuffed on saucy food, rice, and puffy naan—which means you’ll have room for the royal mousse ($8) for dessert, featuring crisp rounds of sweet dough and Bavarian cream.

The lunchtime menu includes some of the dinner menu’s small plates, plus wraps ($13), rice plates ($13), and sandwiches, including the bison keema with pao (trust me, you want this).

There is quite the creative cocktail list, like the Cricket Cup with Pimm’s and the unexpected addition of yogurt, and the turmeric lassi with dark rum—both pair well with food. If you’re coming by the bar for a cocktail, the Royal Bombay Yacht Club is a good place to kick off happy hour, with the smoky spice of Ancho Reyes. There are 10 in all, and all $12. The smart wine list includes many food-friendly California and French wines, with some affordable bottles in the mix.

The space has a variety of dining areas, from the dining room with eggplant leather chairs and peacock-blue velvet private booths that seat four (on both sides of the restaurant) to a larger table for groups and a high communal table flanking the bar. There are high-top tables near the bar as well, with a bronze tufted banquette and chic brass and leather chairs. It has a contemporary and colorful look, with an image of the Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala on the wall (and his extraordinary bling—he was quite the lover of opulence and indulgence), overlooking it all. There are also fun touches like the colorful glass pendant lights and sconces, lattice on the sides of the booths, and plenty of punchy and shimmery colors. Craige Walters (Black Cat, Hecho) designed the 90-seat, 4,000-square-foot space.

Lunch Mon-Sat 11:30am-2:30pm, happy hour nightly 3pm-6pm, dinner Sun-Thu 5pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 5pm-10:30pm. 524 Van Ness Ave. at McAllister, 415-771-5900.

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Biscuit testing! Instagram photo via @cherylstorms_pastrychef.

While fans of Cheryl Storms and her sweet creations were sad to hear about the recent closure of both of her ~PINKIE’S BAKERY~ locations, it ends up she is now the consulting pastry chef for the soon-to-open ~FINN TOWN~. She is collaborating with chef Ryan Scott on classic cakes, plus Parker House rolls, housemade brioche hamburger buns, and a daily bread at dinner. When brunch launches, there will be biscuits, doughnut holes with raspberry filling, and bear claws. Look for an opening after Thanksgiving—we’ll keep you posted. 2251 Market St. at Sanchez.  

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The Motze team working on the Fat Rice meal. Photo via Facebook.

Chefs Adrienne Lo and Abraham Conlon of Chicago’s acclaimed Fat Rice are in town to celebrate the release of their cookbook, The Adventures of Fat Rice, which centers on their exploration of the unique food culture of Macau (a blend of Chinese, Portuguese, Malaysian, and Indian foodways). Nick Balla and Cortney Burns of ~MOTZE~ are hosting the duo and preparing a three-course dinner this Wednesday November 16th, $58 per person (tip included, excluding beverages), $35 per book (available for purchase throughout the evening). 5:30pm-10pm. 983 Valencia St. at 21st St., 415-484-1206.

This Friday November 18th is the 16th annual Taste & Tribute event, when 27 Bay Area chefs come together to support the preservation of the Tibetan culture through the Tibetan Aid Project. Chefs work in pairs to create a four-course experience for guests, with paired fine wines. A live and silent auction rounds out the evening. $350 per person. Four Seasons Hotel, 757 Market St. at O’Farrell.

Civil Eats, the fantastic nonprofit independent media site by founder Naomi Starkman, is hosting their first in-person event and fundraiser on Tuesday November 29th (they don’t take advertising so they rely on their subscription service, independent donations, and foundation grants to pay their writers and editors). Now more than ever, we need to help support independent coverage of food politics and policy.

It will be a walk-around tasting event, with top chefs from restaurants like Alta CA, Nopa, and Piccino, with the support of purveyors and partners like Bi-Rite Market, Llano Seco, Marin Sun Farms, and Mindful Meats, plus local wine, beer, and spirits. Civil Eats’ advisory board member Alice Waters and many other food movement movers and shakers will be in attendance.

Tickets are $125. If you aren’t able to attend in person, please consider making a donation via the Eventbrite link, and subscribe online. The Civil Eats team thanks you! 6:30pm-9:30pm. The Village, 969 Market St. at 5th St.