August 4, 2009

~THE CORNER~, the newer sister restaurant to Weird Fish in the Mission is going through some significant changes: there's a new chef, Alex Jackson. Jackson's background includes Gramercy Tavern (he staged there for six months), a year at Fergus Henderson's St. John, plus Joel and Bacchanalia in Atlanta. Jackson's experience at St. John means he will be using whole animals at The Corner, starting with lamb. They are going to start small (like the teeny kitchen), offering 4–5 antipasti and 8–10 hot dishes, and they will begin to make house-made charcuterie in October. Morning service and lunch have been discontinued until the evening menu is dialed in. The starting menu made my mouth water, with this week's dishes including an app of garganelli with crispy lamb sweetbreads and truffle fondue ($9); sautéed black cod with cipollini onions ($15); and fried rabbit with corn custard brûlée, mache, charred onion, and king oyster mushrooms ($14). Look for a full menu to be in place on August 17th, and lunch and brunch will kick back in by November 1st. Open daily at 4pm. 2199 Mission St. at 18th St., 415-932-6939.

Another Mission chef change: Chris Kronner (Serpentine, Slow Club, Good Evening Thursday) is taking over for chef Jason Fox of ~BAR TARTINE~. Fox was at Bar Tartine for almost three years; after an amicable parting, he is currently exploring some options and looking for the right fit. Kronner's menu will have a more approachable and simpler style, integrating traditional European and contemporary Bay Area influences. He is excited to bring in and highlight products from special purveyor relationships he's been cultivating of late (including a blend of 30 kinds of lettuces from a source in the neighborhood, how's that for local?). Look for collaboration with Sam White on some events as well (they work together on a variety of things, like the OPENrestaurant events). Another cool component is Kronner will be working closely with owners Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson on having specialty baked items that are just for the restaurant, and will be showcasing items from Robertson's upcoming book, Tartine Bread (it's the working title; to be published by Chronicle Books, Fall 2010). The initial menu features a torn-bread salad, preserved tuna and vegetables, whole chicken in a cast-iron skillet with giblet jus, and items inspired by Good Evening Thursday, like the Prather filet with bone marrow and onion soubise, and a bone-in rib-eye steak for two. There will also be some bar-friendly items, like a burger, and walnut anchoïade with radishes. Fox's last day is August 14th, and the transition will be in place by the third week of August. 561 Valencia St. at 17th St., 415-487-1600.



Another chef change: over at ~CITIZEN CAKE~, William Pilz has departed. Owner Elizabeth Falkner thanks him for working at Citizen Cake as long as he did (he came with her to Iron Chef in 2006), but was ready to make some changes to the menu. Falkner has a good crew at the restaurant which is helping her in the transition, including sous Jack Funderburg, and Elgin Espiritu from Orson. The new menu has already launched, with lower prices and dishes that are more fitting with the easygoing style of the restaurant. Back on the menu is the grilled NY steak with horseradish ice cream and tempura beets ($24), and you can now get the lunchtime Citizen burger with French fries and harissa aioli ($15) for dinner, while vegetarians will dig the gnudi with toy box tomatoes ($16). You can read the new menu in its entirety here. 399 Grove St. at Gough, 415-861-2228.

Well, looks like we had two local chefs competing on the next season of the Food Network's ~THE NEXT IRON CHEF~, but since Nate Appleman has changed his affiliation to New York (the press release I received said "Chef/Butcher, New York, NY"), it means our sole local rep is Dominique Crenn of Luce. Do us proud, Dominique! The season starts this October.

Am super stoked about the groovy new place I'm going to be able to hang out at just a block from my apartment. A while back, I mentioned a beer and wine bar (and café) was moving into the One World space. Well, here's more: it's called ~MATCHING HALF~, and they are going to serve individual drip coffees and Chemex pots, along with a simplified espresso menu. They are planning on using Sightglass Coffee (pending on when the roaster is up and running) and will have several organic options for dairy. There will also be a few local and regional beers on draft and a changing list of wines by the glass and bottle. Since there is just a small oven, it's going to be fairly simple food-wise, so expect fresh salads and sandwiches for lunch, and bar bites in the evening. The goal is a mid-September opening date, stand by! Lookin' forward to it. 1799 McAllister St. at Baker.

The wait is over: ~GUSSIE'S CHICKEN AND WAFFLES~ is open in the former Powell's Place location. If you want to peek at the menu, this posting on Grub Street has a list of items you can snarf, including buttermilk-fried chicken salad and a variety of waffles, from the signature sweet potato waffles, to cornmeal waffles, to vegan buckwheat waffles (but no chicken on the side for the last one, right?). Hours are Sun–Thu 7am–11pm, and Fri–Sat 7am–2am. 1521 Eddy St. at Fillmore, 415-409-2529.



More Fillmore-based news. Actually, this is just a little taste: ~FRAICHE YOGURT~ from Palo Alto is going to open in the other half of the space next to Woodhouse Fish Co., hopefully by the end of summer. I normally don't cover all the comings and goings of yogurt places in this town, but this one is special. To wit: you can choose from house-made and organic fresh or frozen yogurt, and there's hand-shaved Callebaut chocolate as a topping. I have been promised all the details very shortly, but wanted to give y'all this lil' teaser for now! 1910 Fillmore St. at Pine. (Photo from fraicheyogurt.com)

Got word that ~CARTE 415~ is finally opening this Wednesday. To recap, this is a lunch/food stand from Joshua Skenes with fresh sandwiches, like farm egg salad or a twist on a bahn mi with Sonoma chicken, plus salads, soup (I previewed an early girl gazpacho not too long ago), and drinks, including fresh lemonade. It's located in the atrium in the building right next to RN74. Hours are Mon–Fri 11:30am–2:30pm. 101 2nd St. at Mission.

More sandwich news: I mentioned last week that ~IAN BEGG AND RYAN MAXEY~ had a small North Beach project up their sleeves. Well, the info ended up getting put on lockdown (read: I got cut off from the scoop), so all I can say is it's going into the space next to Enrico's. Sandwiches. Opening soon. 504 Broadway at Kearny.

According to permits, ~PIZZERIA AVELLINO~ is moving into the former Curbside Taqueria location. According to some comments on Eater (which included one that said, "Finally, a new pizza place in my 'hood! I am so pumped I just donkey-kicked my dog!") it looks like there will be both a Neapolitan/thin-crust style and New York style (to be confirmed). A source told me the pizzaiolo has 20 years of experience. Based on the news they're testing pizzas already, it sounds like it's close to opening. 2769 Lombard St. at Lyon.

More permit revelations: the folks behind ~SOZAI~ have something brewing at the Tacos Santana Bar & Grill space in the Mission. I was told I'll be furnished with more details in a couple weeks. 2491 Mission St. at 21st St.



Over in the East Bay, I was very very sorry to learn ~ECCOLO~ will be closing after a little bit over five years in business, with their last day scheduled for Saturday August 22nd. They will be running their usual schedule for lunch and dinner through Monday the 17th. From Wednesday August the 18th through the 22nd, Eccolo will be serving special dinners to say farewell to everyone (like a meal with Bob Cannard) and highlighting all the things they like to cook and eat. In an email, chef Christopher Lee stated, "Things simply didn't turn out the way we thought they would. I'm soon putting together my next project, a old-fashioned butcher shop that will sell top-quality fresh meats, lots of my own salumi including prosciutto, a few modest wines, good olive oils, vinegars, condiments, handmade pastas, even do custom dry aging for customers. It's an exciting project and I'm really looking forward to it. We may even cook a set menu (maybe with a few add-ons) for a few tables two or three nights a week! Location TBA. It's that or move to Spain." Here's wishing them all the best; it's a sad closure. 1820 Fourth St. at Hearst, Berkeley, 510-644-0444.

Also in the 510, things are getting close with the ~LAKE CHALET~ in Oakland, opening in the 100-year-old Lake Merritt Boathouse on August 17th. As you may have surmised by the name, the owners are Gar and Lara Truppelli of the Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant and Park Chalet Garden Restaurant/San Francisco. The executive chef is Jarad Gallagher, most recently at One Market Restaurant. The menu will include offerings from a raw bar, Dungeness crab cakes, petrale sole "piccata," and BBQ baby back ribs. There will also be an outdoor lakeside barbeque and weekend brunch, plus cocktails and handcrafted Beach Chalet beers. CCS Architects (Perbacco, La Mar, Restaurant LuLu) designed the interior and have completely restored the boathouse. It's pretty massive, with a total of 325 indoor and 100 outdoor seats. Open daily for lunch from 11am–3:30pm, dinner from 3:30pm–11pm, plus weekend brunch. 1520 Lakeside Dr. at 17th St., Oakland, 510-653-8660.