December 12, 2006

I wanted to clarify a couple things about the 2007 ~COZMO CARDS~ offer I mentioned last week—you actually get a deck of 50 cards (not 52, my bad), and two of those cards are joker cards that can each be redeemed for three restaurant cards of your choice. (You follow that? Sweet). Order your $30 deck here and don't forget to enter tablehopper for 10% off!

~JERRY MCGINNIS~, the former Executive Chef of supperclub, who also had a brief stint at Street, is now at Pescheria, Joseph Manzare's seafood restaurant in Noe Valley. McGinnis started in November, and has been busy fine-tuning the menu. Desserts are now being made in-house, and after the beginning of the New Year, Sunday brunch will kick in. (For the record, there's a nice heated patio in the back.) 1708 Church St. at 29th St., 415-647-3200.

Another chef switcheroo has happened at Joseph Mazare's SoMa restaurant, Zuppa. Chef Brent Johnson has been replaced by 33-year-old ~NICK DI ARENZO~; he hails from Philly, but has been cooking around SF for the past six years in the kitchens at Bacar and was a Sous at Moose's. He studied in Spain and also has an Italian upbringing that I am sure will be alive and kicking in the kitchen. Benvenuto. 564 4th St. at Brannan St., 415-777-5900.

Frascati has a new Executive Chef: Max DiMare has left, and taking his place is former Sous Chef ~MICHAEL PAWLIK~, who incidentally met Frascati's new-ish owner, Jon Rader, when he came to San Francisco for an externship at Scala's four years ago. Pawlik followed Rader when he took over Frascati and started as Sous Chef, and with DiMare's departure, was just promoted. Rader mentioned they will eventually need to fill the Sous Chef position, but are not aggressively seeking someone (i.e. feel free to drop a resume off, but it's no big hurry). 1901 Hyde St. at Green St., 415-928-1406.

The Orchard Garden Hotel, the first green hotel in California, will be the home of ~ROOTS RESTAURANT~ by the end of December (they are hoping to open by the middle of next week). The Executive Chef is Russell Rummer, who was most recently Chef de Cuisine at Acme Chophouse and prior to that was the Sous Chef at Absinthe. The contemporary American menu will feature Spanish and French touches, with organic ingredients whenever possible, and will include grass-fed beef, naturally raised meats, and sustainably caught seafood. A few items on the opening menu may include duck liver mousse with spiced quince, and day boat scallops with butternut squash puree and buffalo sprouts. ROOTS will also feature some organic and biodynamic wines and beers. The ground floor restaurant has 55 seats, with a bar that extends just off the lobby and will be open until midnight—the space is all done up with a modern and organic feel, with soft browns and greens. Lunch (11am-3pm) and dinner (5pm-10pm) will be served seven days a week. 466 Bush St. at Grant St.

Moving into an historic building on the corner of Mission and 25th, and it's not just any building but THE building—that big looming Victorian, you know the one, will be ~MISSION PIE~, a cozy little café and (eventually) a bakery. This community-minded café will collaborate with Pie Ranch (a non-profit farm near Año Nuevo that educates San Francisco high school students about food, and where food comes from), and with Nextcourse (a nutrition and culinary education nonprofit). The partners in Mission Pie, Karen Heisler and Joe Schuver (of Destination Bakery in Glen Park), plan on hiring some San Francisco youth from Pie Ranch programs to work in the café. The building houses Southern Exposure, which will be vacating the space in about a year, and that's when Mission Pie will put an on-premise bakery in place (plus sidewalk seating). For now, there will be 6-7 tables, and seasonal pies like apple, pumpkin, and nut that will be made by Destination Bakery until the on-site bakery is up and running, plus morning pastries and savory pies. This will also be the first café to brew coffee from Taylor Maid Farms, an organic, fair-trade, shade-grown coffee. Open later this month, 7am-9pm (later hours on the weekends), 2901 Mission St. at 25th St.

Opening in the Crash Nightclub space this January will be ~BITE~. The ground-floor restaurant will be open late for Crash-goers (party crashers?), plus clubbers stumbling out of Suite 181 and Boobie Skye. The chef is Tony Carracci, who has rocked it at Cha Cha Cha, the Cat Club, and Pound. The menu will have a southern/Cajun style with thoughtful touches including handmade condiments, like ketchup. The menu will have about 15 entrées, and expect to find some pizzas on the after-club menu (2am-4am). I spoke with owner Terrance Alan, who recommended folks come by and give 'em some feedback that first month so they can craft a menu people in the area will crave. Intended hours will be Wed-Sat 5pm-9pm, with a light supper served from 10pm-2am, and Fri-Sat will have an after-club menu from 2am-4am. 34 Mason St. at Turk St., 415-EXC-ITED.

Our gent Mohamed has closed my favorite dive on Jones, ~TAJINE~. He'll hopefully be reopening soon. He was considering the Lower Haight (darn, so close!), but is now hoping for a spot on the Polk Corridor. Will keep you posted when the Merguez are back in effect.

Sommelier ~MARK BRIGHT~ is leaving Michael Mina at the end of the year, and will be working with Ola Fendert at Oola as the wine director. Bright will continue to consult with Lingba in Potrero, as well as DOSA in the Mission (plus Circa in the Marina). Sidebar: I think he needs a new project that doesn't end in the letter "a."

Most of you know what a fan I am of Silks—well, now the place is becoming certifiably "top drawer" with the appointment of Master Sommelier ~RICHARD DEAN~ as wine director. Dean is one of 124 Master Sommeliers in the world, and was formerly at The Mark Hotel, a Mandarin Oriental property in New York where for ten years he managed the beverage program. He also has acted as a consultant, lecturer, wine columnist, and author. Welcome to the City, Richard. Yes, a glass of some bubbly would be lovely, why thank you.

Some new openings around town:
First is ~COUNTRY SKY~, a Hunan and Mandarin restaurant that also serves dim sum (it's even available in the evening). Country Sky moved into the former Newroz space, and has 30 seats. Beer and wine is offered, but they especially pride themselves on serving good tea. Open Sun-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm. 3321 Steiner St., between Chestnut and Lombard, 415-567-2888.

Over in the Inner Richmond ~NAMU~ just opened on December 1. The name means tree in Korean, and is a reference to the bar made from a recycled tree from Golden Gate Park, plus the grill using wood charcoal (and not just any charcoal, but Sumi). The menu is focused on California tapas with Japanese and Korean influences, like spicy pork ribs, okra, and mushroom dumplings (check out the menu on the site—it looks mighty tasty, and not very Californian, but whatever). The chef is Manuel Ek Chel, who was formerly at Ozumo (which is where I imagine he gained his love of Sumi charcoal). A beer and wine license hasn't kicked in yet, but it's coming. In an interesting twist, the space was designed by architect/designer Brent Kanbayashi (I was told he worked on the Oracle project?), who is family friends with owners (and brothers) Dennis and David Lee. Lunch Mon-Sat 11am-3pm, dinner Mon-Thu 6pm-10:30pm, Fri-Sat 6pm-11pm. 439 Balboa St. at 6th Ave., 415-386-8332.

Opening this week:
I got to check out ~UMAMI~ this Saturday at a test dinner—talk about a transformation from the previous tenant, Yoshida-Ya. The Asian-swank two-level space will be open tonight, Tuesday, serving up small plates from Vietnam, Korea, Japan, and more (Executive Chef Sam Josi is gonna rock it). Umami will serve dinner Tue-Sun 5:30pm-10:30pm, Fri-Sat the downstairs bar will stay open until 2am. (The full menu is available at the bar until 10:30pm). 2909 Webster St. at Union St., 415-346-3431.

~CIGAR BAR & GRILL~ will re-open this Wednesday or Thursday (the 13th or 14th) after a short closure. Reportedly their lunch offerings are pretty tasty, and the happy hour can be quite a scene.

The teasing continues: now it looks like this Thursday, December 14, is the latest date for ~BI-RITE CREAMERY~ to open. Ready, set, lick! 3692 18th Street at Dolores St., 415-626-5600.