August 5, 2008

Rumblings over at Mint Plaza: looks like ~PETER GREERTY’S GASTRO-STEAKHOUSE PROJECT~ will not be happening in the 418 Jessie space. This was going to be the hefty project, with 120 seats total. No confirmed word on whether Il Buco is moving out here into the 54 Mint space either.

This Friday August 8th marks the opening of ~ZARE AT FLY TRAP~, and Hoss will be greeting diners with a complimentary glass of bubbles. Speaking of beverages, I wanted to mention Chris Blanchard, most recently of Redd in Yountville, is consulting on the wine list. 606 Folsom St. at 2nd St., 415-243-0580.

~PALIO D’ASTI~ is celebrating their eighteenth year in business, which means for the month of August all bottles of wine at dinner with dinner will be half off. Dude. Start with some free happy hour pizza, sit down for dinner and enjoy half-off wine, and then if you’re into cigars, you might want to know they’ve found a source for pre-embargo Cuban cigars (that's right, they're older than we are, and legal!), some of which have been aged in sherry casks for 40 years. 640 Sacramento St. at Montgomery, 415-395-9800.

Thanks to a tablehopper reader, I have learned the ~NEW ITALIAN CAFÉ~ at 59 30th Street at San Jose is called Cafe Stefano. Grazie.

Since we’re on café news, ~EPICENTER CAFÉ~ has opened next to Whole Foods, and according to some happy Yelpers, the barista action is commendable (there are a few obvious shills, but I will choose to ignore those), there’s free Wi-Fi, plus in-house baked goods. 764 Harrison St. at 4th St.

The chaps behind Plouf (Eric Klein and Olivier Azancot ) and Garcon (Jerome Rivoire) have opened ~BONBON PATISSERIE~ in the former Kimi's Pizza space in the Financial District. On offer in the mornin’ are coffee and espresso, while lunch items includes some de rigueur Frenchie quiche and croques, plus the novel Alsatian-style pizzas, along with dessert/pastries, like croissants, tarts, and macaroons. It’s tiny, with only a few seats, so consider this place more for take-out. 10am–5pm Mon–Fri. 308 Kearny St. at Bush, 415-956-5005.

Guerilla farmers strike again on Thursday August 21st: Julia and Andy from Watsonville’s Mariquita Farm will load up their truck with ~MYSTERY BOXES~ and head to Piccino. To secure a farm-to-you, generously packed $25 “mystery box,” click here to place your order, and swing by Piccino from 5pm–7pm Thursday night for your pick up. (And stick around for some pizza and vino and socializing.) 801 22nd St. at Tennessee, 415-824-4224.

Also coming up at Piccino: on Sunday September 21st is A Dinner with Italian Wine Specialist Summa Vitis, and Sunday October 26th is An Artisan Meat Dinner with Thomas Odermatt of RoliRoti & Oxbow’s Rotisario. (I recently had the porchetta sandwich at Oxbow and it’s one of the ten best sandwiches I have ever eaten. ’Nuff said.) Oh yeah, and on Sunday November 16th is An Autumn Mushroom Dinner with Ian Garrone of Far West Fungi. Read more here. To reserve your seats, call Wayne at 415-350-5157.

I really hope you like tomatoes, in fact, you better looooooooove them, because there is a cavalcade of events this month. Here goes:

The Lark Creek Restaurant Group is hosting its annual ~HEIRLOOM TOMATO FESTIVAL~, with special tomato dishes and menus at all of its Bay Area restaurants from August 1st–August 31st. Participating restaurants of the Lark Creek Restaurant Group include The Lark Creek Inn, One Market Restaurant, LarkCreekSteak, Lark Creek Walnut Creek, Yankee Pier in Larkspur, Yankee Pier in Lafayette, Yankee Pier at Santana Row in San Jose and Parcel 104 in Santa Clara.

PlumpJack Cafe
executive chef Rick Edge rolled out his four-course ~SUMMER HEIRLOOM TOMATO TASTING~ menu, available now through the end of September. Most of the tomatoes are sourced from River Dog Farms and Full Belly Farms. The tasting menu is $45 per person, with wine pairings for an additional $21. 3127 Fillmore St. at Filbert, 415-563-4755.

The Cliff House is hosting guest chef Ron Siegel of The Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco on August 13th. He is preparing ~A SPECIAL FOUR-COURSE TOMATO (“ULTOMATO”) MENU~. Interestingly, the tomatoes come from GM Ralph Burgin, who has a family farm in Sonoma with more than 800 organically grown tomato plants this year, 41 varieties in all. Siegel and his pastry chef Alexander Espiritu will serve: chilled heirloom tomato soup/avocado mousse, chilled prawns; abalone/tomato gellan, basil puree, serpent cucumber; grilled skirt steak/tomato compote, onion marmalade, roasted potatoes; and tomato tarte tatin/yogurt mint sorbet.Tickets are $55 a person, or $80 with wine pairings. A portion of the night's proceeds will benefit the non-profit Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF), which fosters family-scale agriculture that cares for the land, sustains local economies, and promotes social justice. Reservations can be made online through www.cliffhouse.com or by calling 415-386-3330. Sutro’s at The Cliff House, 1090 Point Lobos.

~HEIRLOOM TOMATO WEEK~ is from August 14th–24th, one of three major events in San Francisco leading up to the first ever weekend-long food and wine event: San Francisco Chefs. Food. Wine. A Weekend Affair to be held August 7th–9th, 2009 in Union Square. (Subsequent events will feature Dungeness crab in January 2009, followed by strawberries in April.) 52 restaurants in San Francisco will be showcasing heirloom tomatoes from local farmers in signature dishes or full tasting menus. Diners who visit participating restaurants during the promotion and pay with their Visa Signature card will receive a commemorative book including special recipes from the chefs and restaurants involved in the event (including Joey Altman, Bruce Hill of Bix, Traci des Jardins, and more). Reservations can be made through OpenTable.com.

On Wednesday August 27th, Millennium is offering an heirloom tomato five-course menu for their ~ANNUAL TOMATO DINNER~, with an optional wine pairing and a flight of bloody Marys. Reservations are available from 5:30pm–9pm. $65/person, excluding tax and gratuity. $27/optional wine pairing; $14 Bloody Mary flight. 580 Geary St. at Jones, 415-345-3900.

Looks like our East Bay friends decided to change the name of their Southeast Asian street food restaurant (with a California twist) from KAFFIR to ~BANYAN14~. Opening date is still September 1st. 578 14th St. at Clay, Oakland.