February 17, 2009

Found out that after 12-plus years at Hawthorne Lane and ~TWO~, executive chef Bridget Batson is moving on. She’s looking forward to having a break, and is considering other new opportunities, but isn’t in a big rush for her next gig. Her last day at TWO is this Saturday. 22 Hawthorne St. at Howard St., 415-777-9779.

After a bunch of scouting and intense Googling, I was able to reach a contact for the project opening in the old Driscoll’s Mortuary on the corner of 22nd and South Van Ness in the Mission. It’s going to be a neighborhood eatery and bar called ~DRISCOLL’S~. There will be a restaurant and bar, and the opening is a hoped-for date in the summer. The owners are Eileen Long, a resident of the Mission for the past 20 years, and her business partner, Jerry Cullinane. They were the last owners of Dago Mary’s, and currently own The Sherman, the boat restaurant down in the Peninsula; Long is also the owner of Martin Mack’s on Haight.

Details are a little sparse at the moment, but I do know they want it to be a kid-friendly place—just don’t tell the little ones what used to go on in the basement. When I asked Long about the building’s history as a mortuary, she said, “Yeah, some people ask, ‘How can I eat where Uncle Frank was laid out?’ and I say it’s all about good memories... The building is beautiful—it’s been around since the 1920s. And I knew Mike Driscoll—he died at 86, and was an amazing man.” It’s actually been ten years since it was a mortuary—the space was actually transformed into offices during the dot-com days, and has been vacant since 2003 or so. I will keep you posted on the concept, menu, and more as things develop. 1096 S. Van Ness Avenue at 22nd St.

I got more details about the fate of the ~LIBERTY CAFÉ~ in Bernal Heights. I caught up with Tony Hua, owner of the Hard Knox Café in Dogpatch and the Richmond, and he said he was originally brought on to help manage the place when owner Cathie Guntli’s condition was worsening, and then she sadly passed away. Hua has a lot of respect for the employees who tried to keep it going when Guntli had to step back. Hua was trying to figure out the best course to take, and knows the Liberty is a San Francisco institution... So to finish what he was originally brought on to do, he has now become co-owner with Stuart Bai (of Sally’s in Potrero). Hua said there is going to be a strong management role in place, and they are inviting whoever wants to stay on to do so. The recipes will remain intact, and they are honored to keep the tradition of the Liberty’s comfort food going. 410 Cortland Ave. at Bennington, 415-695-8777.

Over in the TenderNob, ~MOUSSY’S~ is supposed to open next Tuesday in the former La Cave Bistro space in the Alliance Française. Chef-owner Jean-Luc Kayigire is trying to appeal to a younger generation—he has spiffed the 27-seat place up, making it cozy and comfortable. On offer: coffee, croissants, and an affordable prix-fixe menu to start (a crepe, salad, fruit, and coffee or a soda for $11 or $12). Once the sous chef starts at the end of March, the menu will expand to include more French tapas, all for $3–$5. The wine license will also be coming soon—and since the place is named after the village in Champagne where Kayigire’s father is from, you know there will be some bubbles. The grand opening will be on April 10th. Open for the first month Tue–Sat 2pm–8pm. 1345 Bush St. at Larkin.

There is also a new wine bar and café opening in a former Irish travel agency in the Richmond this Friday February 20th called ~INTERNOS~. The name is Latin for “between us,” and is a partnership between Adnan Daken and Quinn Longbothum (also a couple). The majority of the wine list is domestic with a sprinkling of imports, with 18 wines offered by the glass (average cost is $12). They will have a small menu of Mediterranean small plates, like bruschetta, hummus, cheeses, and salads—additional items will be added later. The space is rustic and comfy, with an easygoing vibe. There will be espresso in the morning, plus Wi-Fi is available. Should be a good spot to hang out before or after a movie at the Bridge Theatre, just a couple blocks away. There are 12 seats at the bar, plus a communal table, and additional table seating. Hours are 10am–10pm daily. 3240 Geary St. at Parker, 415-751-2661.

A little bit further down Geary, Hana Sushi Bang is now ~VOLCANO~, a Japanese curry place from the owner of Hamano. The menu is full of affordable curry options, starting at $4.95, and pork katsu is only $6.95. It’s due to open this Thursday. Opening hours are 11am–9pm, subject to change. 5454 Geary Blvd. at 19th Ave., 415-752-7671.

SoMa has a new coffee place called ~THE CREAMERY~, named for the site’s history as a milk distributor for the last 25 years. The spacious café features a lot of wood and elements from the original building. It just opened yesterday, and is a wholesale account for Ritual Roasters, with a staff trained by Ritual baristas. (Just in case you’re wondering, other wholesale Ritual accounts around town include Café du Nord, the new Hollow in the Sunset, and Mojo on Divis has started using Ritual’s drip coffee, plus there are a couple East Bay locations, like Café 504.) There will be limited food on offer, like grab-and-go wraps, plus Wi-Fi is available. There is also outdoor seating and limited parking for those on the run. Open 6am–7pm daily. 685 4th St. at Townsend, 415-896-1445 (not working yet).

In other Ritual-related news: have you been a fan of the pastries at Ritual from ~JASMINE RAE BAKERY~? Well, hopefully by this summer Jasmine de Lung will have her dessert café open in the same building that is going to house the Southern Exposure gallery. The café is slated to be 600-square feet, with 40 seats or so, and a courtyard. de Lung is a fan of Elizabeth Falkner, and plans to offer experimental creations that “challenge the conventions of dessert.” There will also be Ritual coffee, plus wine, beer, and tea. The plan is to be open from the afternoon until late, and have take-away items as well. de Lung will also continue her wholesale business and specialty cakes. The architect firm is Boor Bridges Architecture, who is behind Flora Grubb Gardens and Four Barrel Coffee. Florida at 20th St.

I also heard rumors of a salumeria in the neighborhood that will be serving salumi, cheeses, and prepared foods, plus a potential additional restaurant in the SoEx building—I was told the landlord is still finalizing the mix of tenants. Expect more updates on these projects in the future.

Here’s info about the steakhouse/lounge I mentioned that was moving into the former Frisson location. First things first, it now has a name, ~A5 STEAK LOUNGE~. Owners Steve and Albert Chen (no relation), in conjunction with chef Marc Vogel are doing a soft opening right now. A5 is open for limited reservations four nights a week, and the team is working out the kinks while targeting an official opening in March. To recap, the concept is a contemporary take on a steakhouse menu, with smaller portions for those who aren’t up to eating a monster porterhouse (think a 4 oz. rib-eye for around $12, 8 oz. for the low $20s, and 12 oz. for $29 or so). And about the name: there will be A5 on the menu, the highest grade of Japanese Wagyu, plus some U.S. Prime. For now, the prices are at a discount, but in exchange for the low pricing the partners are courting feedback from everyone who dines there. You can email rsvp [at] a5steakhouse [dot] com for a test-dinner reservation, and you'll soon be lounging in cream booths with black faux-alligator seats under the room’s famed dome ceiling. Additional renovations to the space are also still underway. And in case you were wondering: there’s full liquor. 244 Jackson St. at Front.

La Parrilla on Polk Street is now just ~PARRILLA~, and sporting a full-liquor license. The place closed for a little while for some renovations that would help it feel less taqueria-like, and more cozy. There is a new hardwood platform by the bar, plus new tables and lighting, and other décor touches. And to go with that real margarita are some new specials, like chile con queso and tamales. Hours are 10am–10pm daily. 1760 Polk St. at Washington, 415-359-1212.


Last week I was wondering what was going on with ~MEDICINE EATSTATION~ in the Crocker Galleria, and tablehopper reader Jeff W. just sent in a pic with the answer: it’s officially closed. 161 Sutter St. at Kearny, 415-677-4405.

Congrats to the all the ~JAMES BEARD SEMI-FINALIST NOMINEES~. The final list of nominations will be announced at Chicago’s Frontera Grill on March 23rd. There will be five finalists in each category, narrowed down from the list of semifinalists by a panel of more than 400 judges. Winners will be announced on May 4th, 2009, at the Awards Ceremony and Gala Reception at Lincoln Center in New York City. This year’s James Beard Foundation Awards will celebrate Women in Food (huh, has it really taken that long?). The list of restaurant and chef semifinalists for the 2009 James Beard Foundation Awards are now available on www.jamesbeard.org/awards. Here are the local semifinalists below—congrats and good luck to all!

Best Restaurateur:

Bill Higgins and Bill Upson, Real Restaurants, Sausalito, CA
Pat Kuleto, Pat Kuleto Restaurant Development & Management Co., San Francisco
Doug Washington, Mitchell Rosenthal, and Steven Rosenthal, Town Hall, Salt House, and Anchor & Hope, San Francisco

Outstanding Chef:

Michael Mina, Michael Mina, San Francisco
Charles Phan, The Slanted Door, San Francisco

Outstanding Restaurant:


Boulevard, San Francisco
Delfina, San Francisco
Greens, San Francisco

Best New Restaurant:

Bottega, Yountville, CA
Camino, Oakland, CA

Rising Star Chef of the Year:

Nate Appleman, A16, San Francisco

Outstanding Pastry Chef:


Deanie Fox, Ubuntu, Napa, CA
Nicole Plue, Redd, Yountville, CA

Outstanding Wine Service

Acquerello, San Francisco
La Toque, Napa, CA

Best Chef: Pacific:
Chris Cosentino, Incanto, San Francisco
Jeremy Fox, Ubuntu, Napa, CA
Douglas Keane, Cyrus, Healdsburg, CA
Loretta Keller, Coco500, San Francisco
David Kinch, Manresa, Los Gatos, CA
Christopher Kostow, The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, CA
Daniel Patterson, Coi, San Francisco
Gayle Pirie and John Clark, Foreign Cinema, San Francisco

Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional:


Mannie Berk, The Rare Wine Co., Sonoma, CA
Merry Edwards, Merry Edwards Wines, Sebastopol, CA
Bob Foley, Robert Foley Vineyards, Angwin, CA
Hubert Germain-Robin, Germain-Robin, Ukiah, CA
Celia Masyczek, Corra Wines, St. Helena, CA
John Shafer and Doug Shafer, Shafer Vineyards, Napa, CA


Photo by Rick Camargo Photography

Sundays just got a bit more homey with the introduction of Pot Pie Sundays at ~MISSION BEACH CAFÉ~. Think rabbit pot pie, plus beef, duck, and vegetable pot pies. Anyone who has eaten at MBC knows Alan Carter’s pie crusts are the bomb-diggety. You can also take advantage of the Let Them Eat Cake promotion if you get in there early enough: every Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings from 5:30pm–6:30pm, customers will be able to try a piece of cake for free with each entrée ordered. See ya on the treadmill. 198 Guerrero St. at 14th St., 415-861-0198.

Before you step off the treadmill: over in the Marina, ~IZZY'S STEAKS AND CHOPS~ is starting a Nawlins-style Sunday brunch on February 22nd from 11am–2pm. Take your pick from a variety of coronary-inducing Benedict dishes, including eggs Sardou with artichoke hearts, creamed spinach, poached eggs, and hollandaise for $14.95, along with Hangtown fry, shirred eggs in purgatory, skirt steak and eggs, omelettes, stuffed French toast, and more. 3345 Steiner St. at Lombard, 415-563-0487.

More old-school joint news... Do you have kids? Want someone else to feed them? Here’s your chance: ~FIOR D’ ITALIA~ is feeding kids for free every Sunday. Chef Gianni Audieri has prepared pasta dishes just for children, while adults can order from the brunch menu until 3pm, or from the à la carte menu all day long (I’m a fan of the chicken livers). 2237 Mason St. at Francisco, 415-986-1886.

Restaurant anniversaries mean more deals on meals. ~BOCADILLOS~ is turning five, and is now offering a happy hour menu of bite-sized tapas (pintxos) at $2 each. Master Sommelier Emmanuel Kemiji’s wine list has also been condensed to a three-tier structure of $25, $35, and $45 bottles, plus $12 tasting flights. The pintxos menu is available weekdays from 5pm–7pm. 710 Montgomery St. at Washington, 415-982-2622.

~FOREIGN CINEMA~ is introducing a special three-course prix-fixe menu every night for $36 per person ($55 with wine pairings) through 2009 in honor of their ten-year anniversary. The tasting menu will change daily and may include dishes such as fried Washington oysters with Bloomsdale spinach, smoked bacon, and preserved lemon to start, followed by grilled opah with winter vegetables and Thai coconut-green curry, and a butterscotch pot de crème for dessert. Wine flights will change daily and include a dessert wine pour for the final course. 2534 Mission St. at 21st St., 415-648-7600.

More special menus: ~ACME CHOPHOUSE~ now has an “Acme Market Menu” Tuesday through Friday. The Market Menu will offer lunch for $19.95 and dinner for $34.95. 24 Willie Mays Plaza at King, 415-644-0240.


Starting this Thursday February 19th is ~DUNGENESS CRAB WEEK~, running through March 1st. 44 chefs and 54 restaurants will be featuring signature crab dishes on their menus. Diners who visit participating restaurants during the promotion and pay with their Visa Signature card will also receive a complimentary commemorative cookbook featuring all things crab, including special recipes from the chefs and restaurants involved in the promotion, while supplies last. (The chef portraits in the book are fun.) Reservations can be made through OpenTable.com. More information about the promotion and participating restaurants can be found here.

Some folks are feeling crabby all month, like the restaurants in the ~LARK CREEK RESTAURANT GROUP~, which are celebrating their 20th Dungeness Crab Festival through the end of February. Each restaurant is offering eight different Dungeness crab dishes. Last week I got a taste of the Dungeness crab and chorizo gumbo on the menu at LarkCreekSteak, and in one word: feisty!

For those who can’t get enough crab, ~BISTRO BOUDIN~ has added a Crab Feed to its menu every Thursday in February and March. The menu is simple: one steamed crab per person, served with drawn butter and lemon wedges; linguine with slow-cooked tomato sauce and shaved parmesan; Caesar salad; and garlic cheese bread made with San Francisco’s original sourdough French bread. The pricing is $25 for one person, $49.50 for two people, and $89.95 for four people. 160 Jefferson St. at Taylor, 415-928-1849.


Cool event alert: ~BRYANT TERRY~ is celebrating the launch of his latest book, Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine at the Museum of the African Diaspora on March 3rd as part of the Chefs of the Diaspora series. Weyland Southon of Hardknock Radio is hosting the wine and hors d’oeuvres reception, and then Terry will lead a conversation about food politics, and sign copies of his book. The reception will feature wine provided by Mouton Noir Wines, live music by Renee Wilson (vocals) and Kev Choice (keys), and dishes from Vegan Soul Kitchen catered by Back to Earth Organic Catering, including spicy goobers; garlicky baby lima bean spread with winter crudités; BBQ tempeh cubes; rosemary-butternut squash soup shooters; and citrus collards with raisin bruschetta. Plus there will be gifts and giveaways. $10. To RSVP, click here. Starts at 6:30pm. (Pssst, there’s also an after-party at PST at 330 Ritch.) 685 Mission St. at 3rd St.

More news down in Palo Alto at the Town and Country Village: so there’s Calafia Café (and the soon-to-open Market a Go Go), plus Mayfield Bakery and Cafe, and then coming this summer is ~HOWIE’S ARTISAN PIZZA~ from chef Howard Bulka—plus the staff will make their own fresh mozzarella and specialty sausages. ~LULU’S ON THE ALAMEDA~ will be opening a to-go location on March 9th. To celebrate the opening of the new location, Lulu’s at Town and Country will be giving out free burritos on Friday March 13th.Â