July 24, 2018

July 24, 2018
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Chefs Laurent Gras and Joshua Skenes. Instagram photo via @jskenes.

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Chilled squid ink noodles at Octavia. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Big news at ~SAISON~: chef-owner Joshua Skenes has brought on famed chef Laurent Gras (Chicago’s L20), and I remember being stunned by his cooking when he was at Fifth Floor back in, oh, 2003. Welcome back to SF, chef. Skenes is positioning the hire as a collaboration at Saison, and they could probaby use a fellow three-star chef in the group as they ramp up upcoming projects (Angler, Angler Los Angeles, and of course other things in the works).

Here’s a fun tie-in: when Gras departed Fifth Floor, it was Melissa Perello who took the helm, and she’s the focus of this next bit of news: Perello is expanding to Los Angeles with a new project. She’s going to be opening a 4,200-square-foot restaurant in Row DTLA in spring 2019 (it’s also where Tartine Manufactory is opening a location).

Look for something that is stylistically similar to Frances and Octavia, naturally, and Perello adds: “I was looking to expand on the ethos of our San Francisco restaurants while also exploring some new features such as cooking with live fire, a full bar, lunch service, and outdoor seating. With this new project, we’re able to check a lot of things off the wish list for an ideal space and type of experience we plan to offer.” It will be designed by Studio Unltd.

A couple other moves: after the wheels came off the bus at ~TOSCA CAFE~, former chef Josh Even is now at Mark Nevin and April Sack’s ~TOFINO WINES~, designing the wine shop and bar’s snack menu. It’s offering the break he needed while he plans his next move. 2696 Geary Blvd. at Masonic. [Via The Chronicle.]

The new chef de cuisine at ~ABSINTHE~ (which just turned 20) is Joel Ehrlich, previously at Bellota, and he is working with Absinthe Group executive chef Ryan McIlwraith on the menu (there are already some new additions). Meanwhile, Robert Leva (previously Redd) is taking over as cdc at ~BELLOTA~.

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A bowl from a past pop-up with the Yo También ladies. Photo via Instagram.

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The nasi goreng with fried chicken at Cracked & Battered. Yelp photo by Michael B.

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Garlic mac and cheese topped with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos at Mac’d. Yelp photo by Sandy B..

There were a bunch of openings while I was away, so let’s dive in. First up, the charming ~YO TAMBIÉN CANTINA~ has opened in the Inner Sunset, in the former Wooly Pig. I mentioned this project back in April, from couple Isabella Bertorelli and Kenzie Benesh. Their daytime menu is focused on Venezuelan-Californian tropical food, from sandwiches (think pulled pork, spicy plantains, güasacaca sauce, and salsa picante inside an arepa) to bowls, plus baked goods and breakfast items. They are dedicated to seasonal, organic, and local produce (they are tight with Full Belly Farm) and are using Verve Coffee. Hours for now are Mon-Fri 7am-3pm and Sat-Sun 8am-3pm. Love their picante style on Instagram, check ‘em out. 205 Hugo St. at 3rd Ave.

Speaking of the ~WOOLY PIG CAFE~, owner Lieng Souryavong has opened in her new Dogpatch location, and the namesake pork belly sandwich is back, along with breakfast bagels, tasty sandwiches, soups, and a poke bowl, with coffee service provided by Andytown. Open daily 8am-4pm. 2295 3rd St. at 20th St., 415-592-8015. [Via Hoodline.]

A tablehopper reader (thanks, bread man!) let me know about a brunch place called ~CRACKED & BATTERED~ that was coming to the former Aperto, and it has finally opened. The menu has a variety of international breakfast dishes, from shakshuka to nasi goreng, plus fried chicken and waffles, and more. Check out the menu on Yelp here. Open daily 8:30am-2pm. 1434 18th St. at Connecticut, 415-926-8645.

The former Dakshin on Polk has been replaced with another location of the popular ~MAC’D~ (the original is in the Marina). Open Sun-Thu 11am-9pm and Fri-Sat 11am-2am—that’s right, you can have buffalo cheese sauce and hot Cheetos on your mac and cheese while in a drunken stupor late on a Friday night. 2127 Polk St. at Broadway.

A second location of SoMa’s Mediterranean ~SAJJ~ has opened in the former Brindisi Cucina di Mare on Belden. You can come by for the same bowls and wraps and pita sandwiches, and you can order ahead of time if you’re so busy like that. Open Mon-Fri 11am-3pm. 88 Belden Pl. at Pine.

And another location of the frozen yogurt and rice pudding place that swirls in toppings, ~LOVING CUP~, has opened on Divis. You can come by Mon-Sat 11:30am-9:30pm. 608 Divisadero St. at Hayes.

When ~KATIA’S RUSSIAN TEA ROOM~ closed, I mentioned her daughter Helen Simmons was going to be taking it over, and she has launched the new café concept with her husband, ~TASTEBUDS~. Hoodline has additional details about the offering, which includes a New Orleans-inspired menu (including shrimp and grits), plus some classics like pancakes and French toast. Look for a happy hour starting at 4pm, with craft beers and wines as well. Breakfast is served until 2pm. Hours: daily 7am-7pm. 600 5th Ave. at Balboa.

Don’t worry, SF’s beloved ~OLD JERUSALEM~ hasn’t closed, it just moved a few doors down to a newer and bigger location, now with a back patio and twice the room. Mousakhan alfresco, in effect. 2966 Mission St. at 25th St.

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A rendering of the upcoming Udon Time. Courtesy of Omakase Restaurant Group.

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A rendering of the upcoming Niku Steak House. Courtesy of Omakase Restaurant Group.

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Breadbelly’s beef bun. Instagram photo via @breadbellysf.

Details have emerged about the Omakase Restaurant Group’s upcoming projects coming to One Henry Adams this fall, let’s review.

~UDON TIME~ will be a fast-casual udon shop, featuring housemade noodles and customizable toppings under the direction of Dumpling Time’s chef Edgar Agbayani, and is due to open first, followed by ~THE BUTCHER SHOP BY NIKU STEAK HOUSE~, a certified wagyu butcher shop that will be SF’s only Kobe beef retailer (selling A5 Kobe beef), and also offer domestically farmed beef, pork, and lamb.

And then there’s ~NIKU STEAK HOUSE~, a 60-seat restaurant featuring kappo-style counter dining with a custom-made binchotan charcoal grill and a wood-fired yakiniku grill in the center of the restaurant. Chef Steve Brown from Cosecha SD in San Diego will be the chef, and Guy Crims is the head butcher for both the steak house and the butcher shop. All three businesses will have a separate entrance and their own distinct space. I’ll keep you posted.

I’ve been hungrily watching the ~BREADBELLY~ “bake sale” pop-ups on Instagram, offering some incredible Flilipino baked goods like ensaymada and Malaysian kaya toast, plus char siu sandwiches, and rotating kinds of Asian baked tasty goodness. Great news: according to an ABC license transfer, Breadbelly is opening in the former Heartbaker on Clement, and according to a post on Instagram, they hope to open this fall. I’ll follow up with more in-depth details soon! 1408 Clement St. at 15th Ave.

Also opening this fall will be a location of the East Coast’s ~LUKE’S LOBSTER~, opening in SoMa, their first West Coast location (there are 10 in the U.S.). This Maine-based seafood company was founded by third-generation lobsterman Luke Holden and partner Ben Conniff, and is committed to sustainable sourcing practices. They’ll be serving lobster rolls, crab rolls, shrimp rolls, clam chowder, lobster bisque, salads, poppy seed slaw, and exclusive items from local partners. Stand by for more soon. 92 2nd St. at Mission.

And a quick switcheroo: according to tablehopper reader Thomas L., the Burmese ~RANGOON RUBY~ has vacated their location at 1608 Polk and have reopened in the former Sprig meal assembly location at 500 Van Ness (they were also cited recently for underpaying hundreds of workers). Taking over their Polk address will be a second location of ~ELLA’S AMERICAN KITCHEN~, the famed brunch spot on Presidio. Will let you know when I hear back on timing. UPDATE: ~ELLA’S ON POLK ST.~ has a target opening date of Wednesday August 1st, with seating for 100 people. The hours of operation will be daily 7am-9:30pm.

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The bar at Crystal Jade. Photo by Drew Altizer.

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The view at Greens. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Some closures to report, including the multi-million dollar ~CRYSTAL JADE~, after four years at Embarcadero Four. No word who the new owners are just yet, but there is a taker for the 20,000-square-foot space. A couple years ago, there was a fun rumor that Yank Sing was taking over, but that didn’t manifest. Maybe now? [scratching chin] Four Embarcadero Center, Drumm St. at Sacramento.

Over in Cow Hollow, ~CONTRADA~ has closed after two years. Bummer. SF, you are so tough on restaurants right now. 2136 Union St. at Webster. [Via Hoodline.]

Two years after opening ~DIP~ in North Beach, Mahmoud “Mo” Khossoussi of Maykadeh has closed his French dip spot. 1318 Grant Ave. at Vallejo. [Via Eater.]

Poor ~GREENS~ suffered a kitchen fire, and is closed through July for repairs. Stand by for a reopening date. [Via Eater.]

There are some problems at Mission’s old-timer ~LA VICTORIA BAKERY~ (67 years and counting)—the Examiner reports sub-tenants (including Sour Flour) were evicted and given 30-day notices of “termination of tenancy”—read the article for details about the complicated story. The building was put up for sale, but it’s not clear if there is a buyer, or what the fate of the bakery is. 2937 24th St. at Alabama. [Via Eater.]

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The main dining room at the stylish Farmhouse Oakland. Photo courtesy of Farmhouse Oakland.

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Fun florals at the new Farmhouse Oakland. Photo courtesy of Farmhouse Oakland.

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The sunny bar at Penrose, perfect for brunch and a cocktail. Photo via Facebook.

Jack London Square continues to percolate with new projects (Dyafa, Belcampo), and now includes the opening of ~FARMHOUSE OAKLAND~ in the former Jack’s Oyster Bar & Fish House from the team behind SF’s popular Farmhouse Kitchen and Montclair’s Daughter Thai. Today (July 24th) is the soft opening, with August 1st as the fully operational targeted date.

Chef and owner Kasem “Pop” Saengsawang (with co-owner and wife Iing Chatterjee) offer a menu that spans Thai street food to family recipes, from curries to noodles and salads, made with quality ingredients and plenty o’ spice! There’s also a full bar. There are seats for 65 inside, including bar seating, and 40 outside on the tropical patio (pooches are welcome). Lunch Mon-Fri 11am-2:30pm, dinner Mon-Thu 5pm-9pm, Fri 5pm-10pm, and Sat 12pm-10pm and Sun 12pm-9pm. 336 Water St., Jack London Square, Oakland.

There’s another Charlie Hallowell restaurant I will be able to return to, now that he has also sold ~PENROSE~ to a former Pizzaiolo employee (and currently the chef of Flora in Oakland), Rico Rivera. Once a replacement is found at Flora, Rivera will shift his focus to Penrose, and a name change is likely, although the seasonal Cali style will remain the same.

The Chronicle also reports Hallowell has split from his business partner, Richard Weinstein. More: “Weinstein, who was also accused of unwanted touching and lewd remarks by 10 employees in the course of The Chronicle’s investigations, resigned his interest in Hallowell’s remaining restaurant, Pizzaiolo, on June 1. However, Weinstein will remain landlord of the properties where Boot & Shoe Oakland and Penrose are located; he also owns the building that houses Flora.” 3311 Grand Ave. at Elwood, Oakland.

I wanted to make sure you saw this heart-warming story in Nosh about ~TAMMY’S CHICKEN IN WAFFLES~ in Berkeley, a trans-owned business that has quite the charming story behind it. I love people. You can go by for some next-level, creative waffles daily 11am-4pm. 2466 Bancroft Way at Sather, Berkeley.

More heart-warming news (because we need it): after suffering a tragic fire just before their 50th anniversary (awful!), ~KC’S BBQ~ has risen like a smoky phoenix from the ashes in a new location. Come by for some BBQ and a beer on the patio and support this family-owned business in their new digs. 1235 San Pablo Ave. at Harrison, Berkeley. [Via Nosh.]

While I was away, I was sorry to hear Preeti Mistry and Ann Nadeau have closed ~NAVI KITCHEN~ in Emeryville—you can read their farewell note on Instagram. We’ll have to see what’s next for the space, and the duo.

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