January 24, 2017

January 24, 2017
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Boudin balls. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Gumbo. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The bar at Alba Ray’s (the shelves will be filled in more, trust). Photo: Pierce Larick/New Revolution Media.

I have been keeping you posted on ~ALBA RAY’S~, and just last night, the bar and restaurant opened in the Mission from owner Alvin Garcia and chef-partner Adam Rosenblum (Causwells, Popsons Burgers). This homage to New Orleans is named after Rosenblum’s baby daughter (Alba) and Garcia’s son, and the intention is to have it be a fun space for cocktails, dinners of Cajun fare, seafood boils with friends (right now with head-on shrimp, corn, potatoes, and andouille), and crawfish when it’s in season (plan on March to May).

The menu features classics like charbroiled Gulf oysters with herbed butter and romano cheese, boudin balls with a kicky Creole mustard aioli, a beautifully dark-hued gumbo, shrimp and grits, and two kinds of jambalaya (which is actually prepared paella style and served tableside). There are also dishes like salade lyonnaise and seafood linguine to round things out. Rosenblum worked at New Orleans’ Herbsaint, and the chef de cuisine is Matt Woods, previously executive chef at Schmidt’s and a New Orleans native. And we have Jimmy Galle of Gulfish to thank for the legit seafood sourced from the Gulf.

Groups will be able to take over the five six-person booths, and there will also be a zinc-topped communal table by the kitchen that seats 16. There are two-tops and round café-style tables in the dining room, along with ferns, ornamental iron arches and corbels, vintage chandeliers, and a velvet banquette. The 100-seat space was designed by Arcsine (Calavera, Duende).

The bar has nine New Orleans classic cocktails (like a Sazerac, Hurricane, French 75), plus absinthe service, and some blended drinks (gotta have a frozen Irish coffee) will be coming soon. Beers range from Abita to Belgian to Japanese, and Tom Patella (a partner at Causwells) and Rafael Souza (Lolinda) are behind the wine list.

Open Sun-Thu 5:30pm-11pm (bar and bar food until 12am), Fri-Sat 5:30pm-12am (bar and bar food until 1am). 2293 Mission St. at 19th St., 415-872-9409.

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Classic Halal Guys combo platter. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Homegrown’s winter seasonal sandwich for SF: grilled cheese with Black Mission fig jam, local Brie, organic apple, caramelized onions, and greens. Photo: Homegrown Sustainable Sandwiches.

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Gelato from Coletta. Photo: Chloe List.

Opening this Friday January 27th will be the first location of New York’s ~THE HALAL GUYS~ in San Francisco. The Union Square/Tenderloin restaurant is opening in the former Naan ‘n’ Curry space. You can order their classic street food dishes: chicken and/or gyro or falafel over rice or in a wrap (the platter comes with rice, pita, lettuce, and tomatoes). Sides include fries, hummus, and tahini, and baklava for dessert. Remember: the white sauce is what will save you from their crazy-hot red sauce! There are late-night hours too. Look for an opening soon in Berkeley. Hours: Sun-Wed 10am-2am, Thu-Sat 10am-4am. 336 O’Farrell St. at Mason.

Newly open in the FiDi is ~HOMEGROWN SUSTAINABLE SANDWICHES~, a Seattle-based sandwich shop. It’s known for being sustainable and environmentally friendly, and it even has its own organic farm that supplies produce for its Seattle locations. As for SF, the founders did some very local sourcing for the menu of sandwiches, salads, soups, and warm quinoa bowls—look for seasonal items too. They are currently looking to to start their own farm here as well—this is the first shop to open in the Bay Area, two more will be coming to Danville and Lafayette. Open Mon-Fri 7am-6pm for breakfast and lunch. 222 Battery St. at California.

Gelato lovers will want to check out the new ~COLETTA~ that just opened in SoMa. The founders—Venezuelan-born Antonio Massimini and Swiss native Henri Waltenspühl—attended Bologna’s Carpigiani Gelato University (I’d like an MA from there) and are taking things to the next level by making and pasteurizing their own gelato base in a state-of-the-art “clean room.” Look for superfresh gelato made daily with their own infusions from spices and herbs, with flavors like Almost Chai, Irish Coffee, Mint Chocolate Chip Stracciatella, and sorbetti too. Cones and pints are available. Open Mon-Sat 11am-8pm. 685 Harrison St. at 3rd St.

A quick reminder that ~KINJO~—a sushi restaurant 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—opens tonight on Russian Hill. Takatoshi Toshi of Sushi Ran is running the kitchen, serving Edomae-style omakase sushi ($120). Open Tue-Sun 5:30pm-10pm. 2206 Polk St. at Vallejo, 415-921-2222.

~URBAN REMEDY~ just opened in Hayes Valley, serving organic and plant-based food and juices, with six new menu items such as Blue Magic Milk and Umeboshi Sushi Salad. This is the company’s ninth location. There is both indoor and outdoor seating. 450 Hayes St. at Octavia.

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Chicken lunch special at Deccan Spice. Yelp photo by Asma K.

Some quick tidbits for you (and I mean quick): looks like ~DECCAN SPICE~, the Hyderabadi Indian spot on Valencia Street, is taking over the former A.G. Ferrari space in the Castro. 468 Castro St. at Market. [Via Hoodline.]

Chef Alicia Jenish-McCarron’s new menu is in place at ~BLACK CAT~. Look for updated supper club cuisine with NorCal ingredients and modern techniques, like chicken-fried Devil’s Gulch rabbit with tea-soaked prunes and bacon-onion gravy; chicken roulade with king trumpet mushrooms, porcini cream, and cress; and the Kitten Burger with house pimento cheese, aged cheddar, lettuce, radish, carrot, and house-cut fries. Vegetarians will dig a Moroccan quinoa with chard, radish salad, and carrot soubise.

Have you ever dreamed about how amazing Paula Wolfert’s culinary library must be? Well, this is a bit heartbreaking, but she is actually selling it right now: her cookbooks in English are being sold at Green Apple Books in San Francisco, and you can find some of her foreign language cookbooks for sale on eBay. Don’t delay!

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A feast at Hawker Fare. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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1951 Coffee Company. Photo courtesy of 1951.

Some unfortunate news out of Oakland: chef-owner James Syhabout is closing ~HAWKER FARE~ on Saturday February 18th. (Let’s all pause for a collective groan.) Sadly it’s about the building—which has been sold with the surrounding buildings to investors—so the area is going to be developed (and Eater reports his lease went month to month). So he decided to close up shop. Fortunately the SF location will continue forth, and Syhabout is also plenty busy with his redux of The Dock. His first cookbook is coming out too. For a full-on experience with Lao Issan funk, plan on coming by Hawker Fare Oakland during its final week, when Syhabout is reportedly going to be bringing the heat and running dishes that didn’t end up in the cookbook. 2300 Webster St. at 23rd St., Oakland, 510-832-8896.

And now for some good news: Downtown Oakland has a wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizzeria that just opened, ~BARE KNUCKLE PIZZA~ (you may recognize Viet Nguyen from his farmers’ market stall). There are pies for everyone, even a vegan pie. Open Tue-Sat 5pm-9pm. 351 12th St. at Webster, Oakland, 510-463-1524. [Via Nosh.]

More pizza: Charlie Hallowell will be opening a second location of his ~BOOT AND SHOE SERVICE~, this time in downtown Berkeley in the former Build Pizzeria space. Look for an opening in a year or so. There is also an 8,000-square-foot basement club, but plans are TBD. 2286 Shattuck Ave. at Bancroft, Berkeley. [Via Nosh.]

The socially conscious and nonprofit ~1951 COFFEE COMPANY~ is now open in Berkeley, providing employment to graduates from a refugee barista training program. Here’s more: “To date, 1951 Coffee Company has 26 graduates of its barista training program and participants have gone on to secure jobs at Blue Bottle, Due Torri, and Dropbox, among others. Currently, the training program is able to enroll eight participants per each two-week cycle. And now, graduates have the opportunity to gain additional experience by working at the café in Berkeley.” Co-founders Doug Hewitt and Rachel Taber partnered with the creative team at Montaag, a Norwegian-American research and design agency, to collaborate on the 1,176-square-foot interior that also helps educate coffee patrons about the path to resettlement. You’ll find an assortment of coffee drinks by Verve Coffee Roasters, cold brew from Berkeley’s Algorithm, and pastries from a variety of local bakeries. Open Mon-Fri 7am-7pm, Sat-Sun 8am-7pm. 2410 Channing Way at Dana, Berkeley.

More cawfee: there’s a new café in Albany, ~HAL’S OFFICE~, which opened next door to Bonnee and Abraham Elterman’s frozen yogurt shop, As You Wish. Nosh reports they are serving Counter Culture Coffee, along with pastries from Oakland’s Firebrand. For now, hours are daily 7:30am-5:30pm. 1207 Solano Ave. at Cornell, Albany.