January 10, 2017

January 10, 2017
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Uma Casa partners Nora Furst and Telmo Faria harvesting touriga nacional in Chocapalha in Portugal. Photo courtesy of Uma Casa.

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The WPT on Nora Furst’s cocktail menu at Uma Casa. Photo courtesy of Nora Furst.

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Arroz de pato, with smoked duck breast, confit-mushroom risotto, cherries, red wine reduction. Photo: Uma Casa.

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The classic Portuguese treat: pasteis de nata. Photo: Uma Casa.

Huge congrats to chef-owner Telmo Faria for opening his dream restaurant, ~UMA CASA~, an homage to his native Portugal (he was born in the Azores). It’s a pet project that he has been planning and working toward for years, so it’s great to see the restaurant swing open its doors. His business partner and right-hand woman is Nora Furst (previously Belga, Lolinda), who is also the beverage director—but more on that in a sec!

Faria has been working with Tacolicious since 2009, and he diminished his role in 2015 in order to start working on this project. His menu pays homage to classic Portuguese dishes, like rissois de camarão (shrimp turnovers), pasteis de bacalhau (salt cod fritters), and caldo verde (a hearty soup with potatoes, linguica, collard greens). Of course seafood plays a big part on the menu, but there are meaty dishes that are perfect for this rainy season, like carne de porco à Alentejana (braised pork, tomato-wine sauce, clams, fingerling potatoes, cilantro, $22) and homey dishes like frango churrasco (grilled half Mary’s chicken, piri piri glaze, fries, greens, $22). Nothing on the menu is over $28, so you can see how Uma Casa wants to be a good neighborhood hangout.

Faria wants San Francisco’s sole Portuguese restaurant to educate and expose local diners to the canon before branching out into some of his newer interpretations; look for more of his individual expression to come in time. He wants the food to be approachable and to highlight the shared maritime heritage that San Francisco and Portugal have. Lisbon in particular is very San Francisco-like, with its coastal position, hills, trolleys, and it even has its own version of the Golden Gate Bridge (check out my past jetsetter post on Lisbon).

Noe Valley’s former Incanto has been given quite the facelift and is now much lighter and airy. There are 82 seats, with 10 at the bar, and two large maple communal tables for room for 14 walk-ins or when you just want to swing by for some snacks and drinks. You’ll see some traditional Portuguese elements, like classic blue and white tiles, mixing with postmodern-style chairs to give things a taste of the present. You will also be greeted by a raw bar display of seafood on ice when you come in, a nod to something many restaurants in Lisbon do.

Nora Furst has assembled quite the beverage list. Even though Uma Casa just has a beer and wine license, she tells me she looked at it as an opportunity and not a challenge to explore categories more deeply, like fortified wines. There are five low-ABV cocktails, including the signature WPT (white port and tonic), made with a less-sweet port that is actually a bit more saline and acidic, served with Carpano bianco, Mixwell dandelion tonic, lime, and seasonal botanical garnish. There are five in all, $10 each, and they look fantastic. In the aperitifs section, there is a selection of vermouths—from Italian to French to domestic—available over a big ice cube and served with different garnishes, plus some sherries and more.

Her wine list is almost 90 percent Portuguese, with a few California producers that use Portuguese methods or varieties. They wanted to offer a large by-the-glass selection so guests can explore Portuguese wine and taste and learn. Look for the list to expand by a third in time. There are also some fun beer selections and cider as well.

Look for the 18-seat private dining room to be coming next. It’s going to pay homage to Faria’s and Furst’s family heritage, from his Portuguese roots to her father’s past as a chef. Large-format dinners will be offered, from suckling pig to seafood feasts.

Hours are Tue-Thu and Sun 5pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 5pm-11am, closed Mon. Brunch should be coming by spring or summer. 1550 Church St. at Duncan, 415-829-2264.

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The interior of ICHI Kakiya, which is once again ICHI Sushi. Photo by Darren Samuelson.

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Snag those Souvla pita sandwiches! Photo courtesy of Souvla.

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A sweet treat at The Riddler: dark chocolate pot de crème with chocolate pearls, served in a caviar tin. Photo courtesy of The Riddler.

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There will be all kinds of pop at The Riddler. Photo: Kassie Borreson.

Some great news from our beloved ~ICHI SUSHI~ crew: after dealing with a health scare/setback with chef-partner Tim Archuleta, and then deciding to close their larger location, they have successfully made the move back to their smaller original location, and Tim is home from the hospital and on the mend. That is a great way to start 2017, ICHI gang! (And way to take care of business, Erin Archuleta!) You guys are amazing. Now it’s up to us to come visit and put our money where our mouth is, which is where the fish goes.

The 21-seat spot has chef Max Bauer leading the charge right now, and the omakase menu is in full swing with sustainable fish, nigiri, and sashimi in season. Sake, beer, and wine are served. Dinner is served nightly Mon-Thu 5:30pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm, Sun 5:30pm-9:30pm. Lunch will kick in next week and be served Mon-Fri. Reservations available. 3369 Mission St. at 30th St., 415-525-4750.

The Souvla team can’t stop, won’t stop. Opening this Sunday January 15th is Charles Bililies and chef-partner Tony Cervone’s third location, ~SOUVLA VALENCIA~, near Craftsman & Wolves, Dandelion Chocolate, and Tacolicious (it’s in the former Grub space). Look for the same menu of delicious rotisserie meats in pita sandwiches and salads, Greek fries, frozen Greek yogurt with toppings, and a 100 percent Greek beverage list (which includes their new private label wines). Hours are daily 11am-10pm. 758 Valencia St. at 18th St., 415-400-5458. (And just a little reminder that ~SOUVLA~ Hayes Valley reopens on January 12th.)

In case you hear the sound of popping corks, here’s why: also opening this Sunday January 15th is Jen Pelka’s ~THE RIDDLER~ in Hayes Valley. I’m going to have the menu and pics to share next week, but wanted to let you know you can come by for Champagne and more in case your Sunday needs some extra fizz (doesn’t it always?). Pop pop! One sneak peek: check out this brilliant dessert of dark chocolate pot de crème with chocolate pearls, served in a caviar tin. You can read more in my previous post. Hours are Tue-Thu and Sun 4pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 4pm-12am. 528 Laguna St. at Linden.

Congrats to ~LUKE’S LOCAL~ for opening their brick-and-mortar grocery store in Cole Valley (in the former Alpha Market). Look for an extensive selection of premade dishes and ingredients, something they perfected with their weekly prepared meal delivery service. Look for a bunch of local brands and products, a well-stocked deli case, and more. Open daily 9am-9pm. 960 Cole St. at Parnassus, 415-643-4510.

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Artwork at Alta CA. Hello, blue cow. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Saucy Asian short rib bowl with lemon soju (please note this is styled for a photo shoot: all dishes will be served in takeout containers). Photo courtesy of Saucy Asian.

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Korean tacos at Saucy Asian. Photo courtesy of Saucy Asian.

It’s a new year and there are a bunch of new projects to match, so let’s look at what’s coming up.

There’s an update on Daniel Patterson’s plans at the Minnesota Street Project in Dogpatch, and it looks like he’s going to be opening a second ~ALTA CA~ there. Chef Anthony Lee of the Market Street Alta will oversee the menu as well, and Scoop reports there will be a strong art component. Look for an opening in the spring. 1275 Minnesota St. at 24th St.

Back in 2015, I reported on ~KINJO~, a sushi restaurant that was coming to Russian Hill from the chef-owner of Saru in Noe Valley and Ijji on Divis, Billy Kong, and the chef-owner of Seiya in San Carlos, Kuo Hwa Chuang. Eater now reveals that Takatoshi Toshi of Sushi Ran will be running the kitchen, serving Edomae-style omakase sushi ($120). We’ll have more details in a couple of weeks, which is when it’s expected to open. 2206 Polk St. at Vallejo.

Opening in the former H Cafe in the Castro is ~SAUCY ASIAN~, from owner Andrew Shinn. He’s going to be serving Korean-inspired “super fusion” street food, in the form of burritos, tacos, sandwiches (banh mi, cheesesteaks), BBQ bowls, and poke bowls. You’ll be able to choose from meats like bulgogi, spicy prawns, short ribs, spicy pork, braised pork belly, and fried chicken, plus tofu. And a bunch of sauces, oh you know it.

The fast-casual concept will have everything served in takeout containers, although there will be around 20 seats you can hang out in (outdoor seating is also coming). Beer and wine are on the list too. Shinn went to grad school in Seoul and was inspired by all the late-night food he saw there, so this is his spin on it. It’s a family affair—he’s opening it with his parents. Hours will be 10:30am-3pm and 5pm-10pm daily, which will expand once things ramp up. Look for an opening in February, I’ll keep you updated. 3801 17th St. at Sanchez.

More Korean news: New York’s Deuki Hong, of the awesome Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong, is coming to SF. Eater reports he’s opening a KFC (Korean fried chicken) joint called Sunday Bird in the back of the upcoming Boba Guys location on Fillmore Street (just next door to Wise Sons Bagelry). Think whole Mary’s birds, used for fried chicken (half or whole), chicken soup, fried chicken skin, and more. It’s due to launch in February, and since it’s going to be a pop-up space, Sunday Bird will be there indefinitely (the plan is to find a permanent space for the concept). 1522 Fillmore St. at Geary.

He’s also about to sign a lease for a Korean barbecue restaurant (also on Fillmore), which will have a fermentation lab and late-night vibe. Look for SF’s Korean BBQ game to get upped significantly by the end of 2017.

Some upcoming changes at the 44-year-old ~CAFÉ FLORE~, which was just purchased by Terrance Alan (chairman of San Francisco’s Cannabis State Legalization Task Force) and Aaron Silverman (a cannabis entrepreneur). The BAR reports the duo are trying to turn the space into a cannabis café. Although we aren’t going to be able to enjoy an alfresco toke à la Amersterdam cafés, perhaps cannabis can be integrated in the food instead. Read the article for more about the complex legalities as Prop 64 gets closer, but it’s certainly fun to think about. In the meantime, look for some updates to the management, décor, food, cocktails, and service—the two will be reaching out to the community for input.

SoMa’s former Paradise Lounge, which has been closed fo-evah and was completely gutted, is opening soon as a three-story Puerto Rican restaurant and club, ~CALLE 11/DEL ENCANTO~ from Leticia Luna. Chef Christopher Caraballo (of Oakland’s Puerto Rican food stand, Borinquen Soul) is running the upstairs kitchen and dining room, and the salsa will be pumpin’ on the dance floor (look for live salsa bands Fri-Sat). There’s also going to be a rooftop patio. Look for classic Puerto Rican dishes (the post on Inside Scoop has the menu and pics). To start, hours will Thu 4pm-10pm and until midnight Fri-Sat, with brunch on Sun 10am-4pm and dinner 5pm-10pm, plus happy hour and more. Mojitos, check. It all gets going this Thursday January 12th. 1501 Folsom St. at 11th St., 415-431-3000.

Noe Valley residents are happy with the news that David Samiljan of Alameda’s Barons Meats is moving into the ~DREWES MEATS~ location which closed last year. Eater reports the opening will be in February, with humanely raised meats free of hormones in the case, plus the addition of seafood! The original Alameda location will remain open. 1706 Church St. at 29th St.

And then there’s gonna be ice cream too! Coming to Fillmore Street (2201 Fillmore St. at Sacramento) and Hayes Valley this spring will be outposts of Portland’s famed ~SALT & STRAW~, from Kim and Tyler Malek (who are cousins), which will be their first shops in San Francisco. They are known for their organic, small-batch, chef-driven ice creams, like Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache, and Freckled Chocolate. Look for some seasonal influences in their flavors—and a strong sense of community.

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This is how Bar Agricole does steak and eggs for brunch. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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A peek at some of the sandwich bodaciousness Josey Baker is concocting at The Mill. Instagram photo via @joseybakerbread.

Some restaurant news around town for you. First up, I was surprised to run into ~FRANCES~ chef Michaela Rahorst out for dinner during the holidays (instead of seeing her hustling in the galley kitchen at Frances), and it ends up she has left her position. I checked in with Melissa Perello’s PR team, who expressed they were all very sad to see Michaela go (she has been at Frances since it opened). Connie Tsui—who has been with Frances since 2015—has been working with Michaela as her right hand since Michaela took over the chef position in September of 2015. Connie is currently transitioning into the role of chef de cuisine and working very closely with Melissa at this time—they expect that she will take over the position officially by the beginning of spring. In the meantime, I’ll keep you posted on Michaela’s whereabouts. For now, she’s doing things like running marathons and having fun cooking with her boyfriend over at Poesia restaurant.

Good news: the fine folks at ~BAR AGRICOLE~ have decided to extend brunch to Saturday as well, so now you can come by for fab dishes like grass-fed tri-tip with fried eggs, rutabaga, Piracicaba broccoli (which is like a sweet broccolini), and salsa verde both days, 10am-2pm. Sunday dinner service has also been added, 6pm-9pm.

The newly opened ~FLORES~ in Cow Hollow is launching brunch this Saturday January 14th and will serve Mexican brunch Saturdays and Sundays 11am-3pm. Dishes include pancake de elote ($13, corn pancake, maple crema, powdered sugar), huevos poblanos ($13, chicken mole, mini quesadilla, pickled onion, oregano), and carne asada ($19, 6-oz. skirt steak, rice, refried beans, two eggs any style, housemade tortillas, pico de gallo). The Vida Fuerza ($6, cold-brewed coffee, coconut milk, cinnamon) will get you back in the game. There are also large-format beverage options, like a passion fruit mimosa for six (which is basically a bottle of bubbles and a carafe of passion fruit purée—so it could be good for just two people, or even one, heh). 2030 Union St. at Buchanan, 415-796-2926.

After doing a fair amount of testing, Josey Baker is rolling out sandwiches at ~THE MILL~, served Thu-Sun 11am until they run out. This week’s beast is roast cauliflower, spring red onion, Tokyo and scarlet turnips, baby kale, JBB special sauce, roast garlic aioli, and provolone, $10. Expect something different each week! They are also serving beer and wine for their pizza nights, Mon and Wed from 6pm-9pm. Look for beers from San Diego’s Pizza Port and some French wines.