April 8, 2008

The word on the street is ~PALMETTO~, the restaurant that was in the former Home location on Union Street, is closing this Sunday (please note: the exact details remain unconfirmed—no one from Palmetto was calling me back). I’ve heard a seasoned and longtime industry pro (20 years in the biz, yo) is going to be moving in, with a fun, casual, seafood-based concept. Not supposed to share the who, what, and name at the moment just yet, but look for some details from me in coming weeks—the new project is slated to open in the fall. 2032 Union St. at Buchanan, 415-931-5006.

Wasn’t able to say a peep about this project until after April 1, so here we are: Michelle Mah, formerly of Ponzu, will be the chef at ~MIDI~, a California brasserie-style restaurant moving into the Perry’s Downtown space that just closed last week. Joie de Vivre Hospitality is behind the 130-seat project—it’s in the Galleria Park Hotel. Michael Guthrie (Myth, Bix, Spoon) is handling the redesign, and midi is set to open in fall 2008. In the meantime, Perry’s is moving into the now-closed Faz Restaurant space, and will reopen sometime in June. midi, 185 Sutter St. at Kearny; Perry’s on the Embarcadero, 155 Steuart St. at Howard.

Folks have long-wondered if the cultish ~CAFÉ ORGANICA~ would ever return to its Western Addition digs (there was a pile of drama, and a fire, too), but instead, some French bistro action is moving in! The owners of Baker Street Bistro, Jacques Manuera and his wife Claude Belliot, are taking over the space and will be opening ~CENTRAL PARC~. VERY extensive renovations will soon be underway, so the project most likely won’t open until the end of the year. Will keep you posted on the concept, décor, and menu as those components develop. 562 Central Ave. at Grove.

Eater broke the story that local character Bruno Viscovi of the Istrian ~ALBONA RESTAURANT~ is selling after 20 years in the business. The new owners are chef Samuel Hernandez, who has been cooking at Albona for over ten years, and Viscovi’s nephew, Michael Bruno, who handles the front of house. You can read Viscovi’s goodbye letter here. Ciao ciao, Bruno. 545 Francisco St. at Taylor, 415-441-1040.

Another sale: last week I got a call from executive chef Seth Bowden that Ron Silberstein (Thirsty Bear, Ramblas) has bought ~CORTEZ~ in the Hotel Adagio from the Bay Bread crew; nothing is slated to change. I heard from Bowden that he is really excited about his current menu—I’ll be revisiting and reporting back soon. 550 Geary St. at Jones, 415-292-6360.

After eight years at ~GARY DANKO~, executive sous chef Kolin Vazzoler is leaving for a restaurant in the 650. I’m not supposed to reveal the “where” just yet, but everyone at Gary Danko wishes him the best.

I mentioned a long time ago that a wine bar and café was going to be opening next door to Weird Fish, in the Wang Fat Market space. Well, things are moving forward: the plans are approved, and demo is underway for ~THE CORNER~ (because that’s what it’s on). Timothy Holt of Weird Fish is spearheading the project, and is about to tour around Italia for some research and development, and when he returns, he’ll be finalizing the concept—it’s about six to eight months out. Look for coffee from Four Barrel Coffee, baked goods, outside seating… Oh, and he wanted to mention that Weird Fish is doing breakfast daily now, starting at 9am. 2199 Mission St. at 18th St.

Some of you have asked me where to find chef ~DANIEL HOLZMAN~, most recently at SPQR. I got a call from him last week, telling me he’s the new chef of Chow in Lafayette—his first day is April 14. He’s excited to get back into the kitchen, but for now, he’s enjoying ten days in Argentina, lucky duck. The previous chef is busy launching the new Danvillle Chow that is slated to open in June or July at San Ramon Valley Boulevard and Railroad Avenue, but without the adjacent market like the Lafayette location.

After some minor delays, it looks like the third location of ~MIXT GREENS~ is on target to open on April 15th. 560 Mission St. between 1st and 2nd.

Here’s a funny switcheroo: ~LAVASH~ and ~L’AVENIDA~ on Irving Street are trading places. L’Avenida is already open, and Lavash is reopening today; with the bigger space and additional seating, there will also be more menu items, including appetizers, kebabs, and beef and lamb stews. Open 11am–10pm daily. Lavash, 511 Irving St. at 6th Ave., 415-664-5555. L’Avenida, 507 Irving St. at 6th Ave., 415-681-1246.

I had fun checking out a pal’s happy hour that happens every Wednesday at the Knockout in the Outer Mission: ~GODZUKI SUSHI HAPPY HOUR~. There’s a laid back, eclectic, and friendly SF crowd, and thanks to the wonder duo, Tim Archuleta and Erin Neeley of Ichi Catering (many know Tim from Tokyo Go Go), you can munch some swell sushi specials while enjoying Kirin on draft, or sake, beer, and cocktail specials, plus some rock ‘n’ roll. Place your order with Taka, taking your pick of super-fresh rolls ($4) or nigiri ($3), ranging from shiro maguro to inari, AKA crack tofu, and I can’t wait to try the famed yuzu chicken wings one of these nights. The fave was the specialty nigiri of spicy crab and scallop ($5). They also just started Tuesday Raw Bar Night, with shrimp cocktail, oyster deals, and drinks. Both happy hours have the same timing (6pm–9pm). You can sign up for the weekly menu, reminders, or I recommend hiring Ichi to cater your next event or company lunch at ichicatering [at] gmail [dot] com. Knockout, 3223 Mission St. at Valencia, 415-550-6994.

Congrats to Joel Huff of Silks who won the ~BATTLE OF THE CHEFS~ at Macy’s Cellar last night against Ian Begg of Café Majestic in “Competition Lobster.” Not like I ever wish any chef ill will, and I very much enjoy Rising Star Begg’s cooking, but after seeing (and screaming) over the 71g of fat in his mushroom soup recipe, I can’t help but wonder if it was some payback from the fitness gods, battling against the gourmet gods. No wonder that soup was so delicious.

Now, for some events. Mmmm, veggies. (The fitness gods are pleased to see that sentence.) Next Thursday you can swing by ~PICCINO~ from 5pm–7pm for a $25 “mystery box” of Mariquita Farm’s delightful organic produce. For details and to order, click here. (Mystery Box Night continues on 5/1 at Pizzetta 211.) 801 22nd St. at Tennessee, 415-824-4224.

Vegetarians, this menu looks extraordinary, and the event sounds quirky-fun. On Saturday, April 12th, ~AN EVENT TO DYE FOR~ will be held at Grandma Mary's Farm in El Cerrito, and Sasha Duerr, founder of the Permacouture Institute is going to conduct a plant-based dyes studio workshop. Following that, there will be a five-course farm-to-table vegetarian dinner from Leif Hedendal using many of the same plants used to make the dyes, with live music by Clark Meremeyer. Sound hippie enough for you? Here is the menu: mache, orach, upland cress, watermelon radish, kumquat, walnut, and Andante chevre; soup of Princess Laratte potato, golden turnip, Knoll green garlic, Star Route baby favas, saffron, and Berkswell; Knoll rapini, dandelion, various kales, black trumpets; Dirty Girl chioggas with puree of stinging nettles; Riverdog asparagus with gold nugget mandarin and Strauss brown butter; Rancho Gordo Tepary beans with red cabbage, avocado, fennel, coriander, sesame, ginger, and hemp; strawberry, young coconut, lemongrass, Blossom Bluff dried stone fruit confit, Cowgirl Creamery crème fraîche, maple, Tonka bean. 4pm–10pm, BYOB, $70–$120 sliding scale. (This is a benefit for the Permacouture Institute.) The address in El Cerrito will be included with your RSVP confirmation. RSVP by April 10th to sashaduerr [at] gmail [dot] com.

In this week’s “the regular,” I am writing up the charming ~LA CICCIA~. In case you want to check out some vittles, the restaurant is hosting a spring lamb dinner on Monday, April 28th. The menu includes vegetables stuffed with lamb, prosciutto and pecorino cheese; Sardinian maccheroni with lamb ragout; roasted baby lamb served with roasted vegetables; poached farro with citrus zest dressed with saba, and of course some vinos. My stomach just growled. $70 per person, including wines, plus tax and gratuity. 291 30th St. at Church, 415-550-8114.

Next week, ~OLIVETO~ is hosting its Risotto Dinners, with Aceto Balsamico, Wednesday, April 16th–Thursday, April 17th. It will be a rich, full-bodied five-course family-style dinner with balsamico vinegars from infancy to antiquity, and beautiful risotto, made to order. The menu includes a platter of Oliveto salumi; shaved spring vegetables with Castelvetrano olives and Oliveto aceto balsamico; risotto in bianco with old aceto balsamico; cotechino sausage braised in saba with English peas and Bianca di Spagna beans; and for dessert, strawberries with black tea granita and middle-aged aceto balsamico. $65. 5655 College Ave., Oakland, 510-547-5356.

Now, for the winos: ~RANDALL GRAHM~, the founder of Bonny Doon Vineyard, is hosting a winemaker dinner at vegetarian eatery ~MILLENNIUM~ on Wednesday, April 30th. 6pm wine reception, dinner served promptly at 6:30pm. $85 per person (excludes tax and gratuity); five-course prix-fixe dinner. All reservations need to be made by calling Erica: 415-345-3900 x11. 580 Geary St. at Jones.

~VINIPORTUGAL~ is on Tuesday, April 22nd, at the Palace Hotel, with more than 30 producers and over 300 new wines that will be on hand for tastings, plus some light food. The trade tasting is from 2pm–5:30pm, and the consumer tasting is from 5:30pm–8pm. For those eager to sharpen their knowledge of Portuguese wines, a seminar on the indigenous grape varieties will take place from 6pm–6:30pm. A $40 donation is requested at the door for the consumer tasting, and proceeds benefit Project Open Hand. Reservations may be made at rsvpsf [at] wagstaffworldwide [dot] com or by phone at 800-871-9012, extension 24552#. 2 Montgomery St. at Market.

Mmmmm, bubbles. ~BACAR~ is hosting its monthly sommelier supper on Sunday, April 20th, and will feature food and wines from the Champagne region in France. For details and reservations, visit the website or email jessica.bacar [at] gmail [dot] com. $75 per person. 448 Brannan St. at 3rd, 415-904-4100.

Beginning Saturday, April 12th, ~WINE BAR & SHOP~ in Embarcadero Two is hosting a bimonthly wine tasting and food pairing seminar. When you’re done with the hustle of the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market, you can unwind and taste wines paired with food—there will even be some easy spring cooking demos. 2pm–6pm. $15. Receive 10% off the purchase of any wine featured in the tasting, the day of the event only. Two Embarcadero Center, (Front St. between Sacramento and Clay), 415-391-0758.

And friends of ~DAVE GOGOLAK~ will be interested in this event to honor his memory: an ’80s-themed party that will raise proceeds for the newly formed GoGo Fund: Scholarships for Extended Education. Saturday, May 3rd, 2008. 8pm–1am. Visit the site to purchase tickets and get more details. Elan Event Venue, 839 Howard St.