February 14, 2017

February 14, 2017
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The glowing cobalt bar area at Rooh. Photo: Sameer Yagnik.

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The dining room, with blue booths separated by gold mesh curtains. Photo: Sameer Yagnik.

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Beetroot Kanji, made with tequila and beetroot spice shrub. Photo: Anthony Thornton.

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Lamb shank nihari with ginger, saffron, cilantro, chile gremolata. Photo: Anthony Thornton.

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The paneer pinweel in red pepper makhani. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

San Francisco’s upscale Indian restaurant scene keeps on ramping up, and the latest addition is ~ROOH~ (which means soul or spirit). It’s the first project in the U.S. from Good Times Restaurant Group (the Bhambri family) in India—they have restaurants and nightclubs in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, and other locations. The chef is Sujan Sarkar, a top-rated chef who has cooked around the world. Sarkar has created a progressive menu that melds regional Indian flavors, modern techniques, and local and seasonal ingredients.

There is a seven-course tasting menu ($80), as well as an à la carte dinner menu that includes some fun bar bites, like chile, pea, and goat cheese-stuffed kulcha; Goan chorizo Scotch egg; and the can’t-miss Kashmiri duck puff. The section of small plates is extensive and intriguing, and at least half of the dishes are vegetarian.

It’s a good thing Sarkar has a big kitchen team from the Good Times’ other Indian restaurants with him here, because there is also an extensive listing of large plates. At a preview meal, we got to taste the elegant paneer pinwheel, such a fun presentation of this classic dish, with a deeply flavorful red pepper makhani, fenugreek, and butter emulsion; the same sauce is used with their tandoori chicken. The tandoori portobello with polenta was a surprise hit at the table. I will admit I thought it sounded too much like a 2002 dish with its truffle oil, but the bite I had made me not care what year it was. Don’t miss the side of black dairy dal—just letting you know. The Indian breads are also fun to try.

The presentations are refined, with many innovative touches and details. Save room for the banana tarte Tatin and tutti-frutti cassata, some of the best Indian-inspired desserts I’ve had.

The creative cocktails are playful, feature many culinary influences, and are based on Ayurveda and its six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, astringent, and bitter. Maybe come before your reservation and hope for a seat at the swanky cobalt blue bar. The Banaras Sour is a good place to start (gin, basil, cucumber, Chartreuse), and the Beetroot Kanji is made with tequila and beetroot spice shrub. The Mustard Old-Fashioned features mustard ghee-washed Four Roses bourbon—it’s wild.

The SoMa location is in the base of the Dropbox building, and they did a lot to build out what was otherwise a rather industrial and characterless shell. The interior has many flashy touches, with bright colors and shimmery chandeliers plus tiled flooring. The dining area features blue booths separated by gold mesh curtains, and there are wicker-backed chairs throughout, although the barstools also have patent cherry red seats and lanterns suspended above.

Open for dinner Mon-Thu 5:30pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5:30pm-10:30pm, with a late-night menu Fri-Sat 10:30pm-12:30am. Happy hour, lunch, and brunch to follow shortly. 333 Brannan St. at 2nd St.

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You can’t miss the cheerful exterior of Bayou in the Mission. Photo via Instagram.

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Frog legs are on the menu at Bayou. Photo courtesy of Arthur Wall.

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Gumbo, broiled oysters gratinée, and barbecue shrimp. Photo via Instagram.

Newly open as of Saturday is ~BAYOU CREOLE KITCHEN AND ROTISSERIE~ in the Mission. It’s in the former Young’s BBQ space and is from Garcon’s Jerome Rivoire and chef Arthur Wall, a New Orleans native. It’s meant to be a casual and authentic place, no-frills but still mindful (Wall described it as “a po’boy shop on steroids”). It’s also designed to be affordable, with most menu items ranging from $10-$20. They expect to do a lot of takeout, delivery, and catering.

Wall is excited to be cooking his native dishes. You’ll find a menu (here’s the preliminary menu, subject to change!) of po’boys (from fried soft-shell crab to oysters to boudin, served on Leidenheimer rolls he’s flying out from NOLA), seafood or chicken and andouille gumbo, broiled oysters gratinée, shrimp cocktail, and some other classics like frog legs and a few slighty nicer entrées like sole (or flounder) meunière, crawfish étouffée, and filet mignon medallions with mushroom peppercorn sauce. There is also a rotisserie, which they’ll be spinning Creole-spiced chicken and baby back ribs on.

They have a close relationship with and will be sourcing their meats with Olivier Cordier of Olivier’s Butchery in Dogpatch (he grew up with Rivoire in Burgundy), and the seafood is from Louisiana and the Gulf (via Gulfish), including Gulf oysters, shrimp, catfish, and blue crab fingers. Look for some seafood boils when it’s the season, and you know they’ll have some specials for Mardi Gras.

There are wines by the glass, either an affordable $8 selection or you can spring for a Gigondas—it’s up to the guest how much they’d like to spend, but they want people to feel like there’s a lot of value. The dining room has 22 seats and features some eclectic artwork. It reopens for dinner this Wed, and soft opening service for now is dinner Tue-Sat. They’ll launch lunch either this weekend or next, when hours will extend to Tue-Sat 11am-11pm. Sunday brunch will be coming later. 3412 17th St. at Valencia.

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An al pastor taco from Glena’s. Photo via Instagram.

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The bar at the new Glena’s, which will be serving margaritas and more in March. Photo courtesy of Glena’s.

Opening tomorrow in Dogpatch is ~GLENA’S~ from Michael Gaines (Kin Khao, Central Kitchen, Manresa), a casual taco and margarita spot we told you about last year. It’s in the former The New Spot in the Dogpatch, and he’s opening it with his wife, Stephanie Gaines (Plow), who will be acting as the GM.

His menu features some classic taco styles (al pastor, carne asada, grilled fish, and Hodo Soy tofu), with meat tacos on Sonoritas (flour tortillas with lard) and fish and vegetarian tacos on corn, both kinds are from La Palma. Meats are organic, and all the tacos are $5. Gaines says his food has a California sensibility, bright with acid and freshness, and are a touch lighter (for example, the beans aren’t cooked with lard and are vegetarian).

Other dishes include ceviche tostadas wtih Gulf prawns, pozole made with Rancho Gordo hominy, and eggs and chorizo with fried potatoes, onions, garlic, chile, chorizo, and two poached eggs in a cazuela. Yes, please. There’s also a fried chicken torta, sides like sweet plantains, and churros for dessert.

Once the liquor license kicks in (they are hoping for early March), beverage director Lachlan Bray (Kin Khao, Tosca) has some good things in store. There will be cocktail classics like a margarita and a Paloma, but here’s where things get fun: they want to bring back the blended margarita and make a really, really good one. Can’t wait. There will be four other cocktails, ranging from a spritzer to a low-ABV selection to a spirituous option, and there will be a non-tequila drink too. Bray says his cocktails will be made with quality ingredients and will be approachable and quickly executable.

The space has 31 seats, and they designed it to be good for to-go service. For now, Glena’s is open Mon-Fri 11am-3pm, and once they can serve alcohol (I’ll let you know, don’t you worry), it will be open daily 11am-11pm. 632 20th St. at 3rd St., 415-800-7415.

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The tropical and plant-filled interior of Mestiza Taqueria. Photo courtesy of Mestiza.

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The patio/beer garden with large communal tables and a beautiful mural. Photo courtesy of Mestiza.

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Thai red curry beef taco with pineapple-arbol chile salsa, roast shrimp powder, coconut flakes, basil. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

On Friday evening, I attended a preview party for the upcoming ~MESTIZA TAQUERIA~ in SoMa, and when it opens at the end of this month, you’re going to be happy about that. The owner is Deanna Sison Foster (Farmerbrown, Little Skillet, Victory Hall & Parlor), who is working with consulting chef Sophina Uong (Calavera, Revival Bar & Kitchen, Picán, 900 Grayson).

The name Mestiza, which means mixed culture or heritage, gives you a clear hint about what’s going on with the street food-inspired menu. It’s like a Mexican taqueria, with flavors and ingredients from the Philippines, plus Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Some tacos on the potential lineup include Filipino pork adobo with ginger salsa cruda and achara; Khmer lemongrass chicken with serrano-avocado crema, peanuts, pink onions, pickled Fresno chiles; and Thai red curry beef with pineapple-arbol chile salsa, roast shrimp powder, coconut flakes, basil. And for $1 more, you can have the tacos in a queso shell. Uh-huh.

Some more straightforward options are carne asada, hongos y rajas (shiitake and oyster mushrooms, rajas, Spanish onions, eggplant salsa negro, avocado crema, pink onions, radish sprouts), and grilled rock cod (with pineapple-arbol chile salsa, Spanish onion salad, and cilantro). All tacos will range from $3.50-$4.

There are also tostadas (vegetarian or Gulf shrimp), a chopped salad, mixto bowls with a choice of protein and garlic rice (yes!), ceviches, and pulutan (Filipino finger food, like pork adobo empanadas, lechón, and sweet plantains). There will be housemade beverages (including cinnamon horchata, pineapple ginger, cucumber mint, and hibiscus watermelon aquas frescas), a well-selected beer program with seven to nine taps, a tight wine selection, and low-ABV beer and wine cocktails, like a pineapple sangrita, tamarind michelada, and a calamansi lime shandy.

It’s opening in the former Chavo’s, although you’ll hardly recognize it now. The outdoor patio is like an island beer garden and features a stunning floral mural by Jet Martinez, with plenty of plants and live edge wood tables, perfect for groups. The interior is full of more plants and has an easy tropical vibe.

Another thing to look forward to: in late summer, Mestiza Taqueria will also host a community of chefs and entrepreneurs through a series of pop-up dinners in collaboration with SoMa Pilipinas.

Hours will be Mon-Fri 11am-10pm, and eventually will ramp up with weekend brunch Sat-Sun 10am-4pm. Look for an opening in late Feb—will keep you posted! Follow along on Instagram. 595 Bryant St. at 4th St.

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Okane brunch with sides. Photo: Michael Ogata.

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The Bird. Photo: Aubrie Pick.

If you want to shake up your usual brunch routine, ~OKANE~ in SoMa has launched a prix-fixe brunch inspired by traditional kaiseki and onsen breakfasts. Choose from an $18, $20, or $22 menu, with dishes like grilled fish, chicken teriyaki, stewed pork belly, gyoza, vegetables, and sesame tofu, with salad, miso soup, pickles, and rice. It’s like having a bento box for brunch. You can also share larger dishes with your table, like kani lobster gohan, a rice bowl with crab and lobster meat ($16). Served Sat-Sun 10am-2pm. 669 Townsend St. at 8th St., 415-865-9788.

Popular FiDi fried chicken sandwich pushers ~THE BIRD~ are launching breakfast Wednesday February 15th. On the menu: fried chicken biscuits ($4.50) and other biscuit sandwiches (sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit; and bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit), and all come with hash rounds. There are also housemade apple fritters (don’t tell your cardiologist), Four Barrel drip coffee, and OJ. Serving Mon-Fri 8am-10am.

Beginning at 8am this Wednesday, they’ll be giving away 200 breakfast sandwiches to the first 200 people who stop by that morning. (It’s their way of saying thank you to the supportive fans who’ve waited in long lines for their fried chicken sandwiches). 115 New Montgomery St. at Minna, 415-872-9825.

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The bar and communal table at The Drawing Board. Photo: Molly DeCoudreaux.

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The Drawing Board’s gluten-free rosewater cardamom cake. Photo: Molly DeCoudreaux.

Now open in Downtown Petaluma is ~THE DRAWING BOARD~, an eatery from first-time restaurateur Rosie Wiggins. Chef Ariel Nadelberg (previously Seed + Salt) has crafted a menu that features minimally processed whole ingredients (many of them local and heirloom) with international influences that’s designed to fit many diets, from gluten-free to paleo. Dishes can include crudo, farinata pizzette, and duck confit cassoulet, and there are desserts from Robin Luu (Nopa, Bar Agricole). See, it’s not all restrictive—there’s also a full liquor license with a focus on herbaceous tinctures, tonics, shrubs, and bitters made from locally foraged botanicals. Dinner to start, and breakfast, lunch, and farm dinners will roll out soon. And look at the space, it’s pretty damn charming. Wed-Sun 5pm-12am. 190 Kentucky St. at Washington, Petaluma, 707-774-6689.

A longtime tablehopper reader (grazie, Gnocco!) forwarded an email to me from Christopher Lee—formerly the meat maestro of Eccolo—who is returning to the Bay Area after working in New York (at Il Buco) and Europe. It ends up he’s taking over Molly Best’s ~THISTLE MEATS~ in Petaluma (she is stepping away to be with her young family), and he will be transitioning the space into his own version of the butcher shop. In the email, he says, “The ‘new’ shop offerings will be diverse and will include fresh meats, poultry, game, sausages, and a range of house-cured meats and charcuterie, as it has done. But we’ll also offer excellent cold sandwiches to take away and tasty sausage sandwiches grilled to order. There’ll be a selection of condiments, vinegars, olive oils, salt, salt-packed capers and other jarred delights, and a selection of tinned seafood from Spain and Portugal, the beauty of which I discovered over the past few years. (They are a story unto themselves, a revived artisanal industry of extraordinary quality and charm.)”

There will also be some staples, and Lee mentions in time he’ll have a couple of pickup points: Bartavelle in Berkeley and Cosecha inside Swan’s Market in Oakland. 160 Petaluma Blvd. N. at Washington, Petaluma, 707-772-5442.

~WISE SONS~ is opening in the former Miette location in the Marin Country Mart in Larkspur. They are targeting mid-April to be open and serving bagels and bagel sandwiches, schmears, coffee, and deli items. 2227 Larkspur Landing Circle. [Via Scoop.]