July 10, 2007

Brenda Buenviaje, who some of you might know from Café Claude and DeLessio, will be opening her own place on lower Polk called ~BRENDA’S~. She took over and is currently renovating the former Sun’s Cafe space, and hopes to open by the beginning or middle of August. Buenviaje was born and raised in New Orleans, and will be offering breakfast and lunch that celebrates the food she loves so much. Expect some beignets with a twist, like a variation with Granny Smith apples and ginger cinnamon butter, or a savory version with crawfish, andouille, and coarse mustard cream. She also mentioned omelets with shrimp, goat cheese, and sauce picante, and the classic dish of grillades and grits. Buenviaje is also developing a lighter version of a Sloppy Joe, a Sloppy Josephine, made with turkey and a bit spicier than the usual version, plus a vegan variation too. The petite 30-seat space will have hardwood floors, antique ceiling fans, walls the color of real butter, and some artistic touches from a potter pal in New Orleans. Buenviaje will be serving a custom blended coffee (just regular, decaf, or au lait) that comes from Argentina—it was blended for the popular eatery she consults for in Denver, Snooze. She plans to have Brenda’s open Mon–Fri, and eventually adding Saturday once the neighborhood is hooked. 632 Polk St. at Eddy.

After hitting a bunch of Spanish joints in New York, my appetite got seriously whetted for the sure-to-be-swell eats at ~LAÏOLA~. But alas, they have hit an unexpected zoning snag, so the opening date is anyone’s guess at the moment. They are all set to go and open their doors—I’ll keep you posted on the official opening date once they have it in their sights. 2031 Chestnut St. at Fillmore, 415-346-5641.

So after three years of business, the plant-covered ~ACOUSTIC CAFÉ~ on the corner of Octavia and Page is being sold. According to the owner, there is room for a secondary offer if someone wants to move quickly. Will keep you posted on what will eventually move in. 201 Octavia St. between Lily and Page, 415-861-4599.

Speaking of new owners, ~PASHA RESTAURANT~ on Broadway has new ones. After 21 years of service, owner Jelal Takesh decided to retire and travel to New Zealand. The new owners, Zouhair Senhaji, and his wife, Jennifer Senhaji, were friends of the owner and decided to take it over. Zouhair’s brother, Hicham, is the new chef, who is altering the menu to reflect a Moroccan approach with a California twist. Presentations are being updated, with a focus on offering quality food at a good value. The restaurant got some cosmetic upgrades, and there is a new bar and seating area—you can now just come in for drinks and bar bites. They are still finalizing the entertainment line-up, but expect live music and belly dancing Thu–Sun. 1516 Broadway at Polk, 415-885-4477.

Almost kitty corner to Pasha, a new wine bar will be opening, aptly called ~THE WINE BAR~. The project is from Gerry McNerney, an abstract artist who is designing and building out the space himself. It was formerly Café Aroma, and he is transforming the space into one with a lot of character, a look he is describing as Wild West-meets-MOMA, with a casual tavern/saloon vibe. There will be chocolate brown walls, brushed aluminum and nickel accents, high ceilings, and a solid oak bar that will all equate to a simple but cool look. There will be a limited menu of wine-friendly eats on offer, like cheese, meat, and bread plates, and the wine list is currently in development. He is hoping to open in early August, and plans to greet people with some good art, music, atmosphere, and a killer bar staff. The Wine Bar will be open from 11am–2am nightly. 2032 Polk St. between Broadway and Pacific.

Two of the city’s favorite chefs, ~LORETTA KELLER~ (COCO5OO) and ~CHARLES PHAN~ (Slanted Door/Out the Door), are partnering in a full-service restaurant and café at the new Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. Both chefs are known for their emphasis on local, sustainable, and organic ingredients, and their menus will help communicate the connection between food and culture in this unique setting that will operate as an extension of the museum. The currently unnamed restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner, and the café will offer healthy, kid-friendly, and multicultural food. Olle Lundberg of Lundberg Design (he did the Slanted Door space at the Ferry Building) and Cathy Simon of SMWM are collaborating on design. The project is slated to open a year from now, in October 2008.

I wanted to point you fellow boozehounds to my pal Camper English’s new website, ~ALCADEMICS~. Yup, it’s time to go to booze school. He’s a talented local spirits writer who really knows his sh*t, and he posts all kinds of fun discoveries in his blog, so add that puppy to your RSS feed. He will also be writing a piece for the wino soon, so keep your eyes peeled. Camper and I are both going to NOLA for Tales of the Cocktail, so between the two of us we just might be able to remember the trip.

Speaking of booze, the chic ~FARINA~ in the Mission finally has its liquor license. A couple more new details: outdoor seating should be available in a week or two (just in time for summery Mission days), and they will be offering restaurant guests complimentary valet parking on Friday and Saturday evenings until they get their own valet parking permit (which means anyone coming into the Mission will be able to park their cars with Farina valets, not just restaurant guests). Hopefully things will simmer down soon in the neighborhood relations department—there has been quite a saga on Yelp related to parking, outdoor seating, upset neighbors, and some other growing pains. 3562 18th St. at Dearborn, 415-565-0360.

The second location of ~MALACCA~, just next to the Café on Market Street, has closed.

More Castro news—it ends up ~PHILZ~ will still have a location in the neighborhood. They are moving into the café space that closed several months ago in the Sit and Spin, just a short jaunt away from the original Philz Castro location. The café will be opening this week, serving Philz trademark by-the-cup coffees and some pastries too. It will be open daily from 6am–7pm. 4023 18th St. between Noe and Hartford.

If you didn’t manage to get your tookus to the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market on Saturday, you can at least feast on some treats that ~JACK FALSTAFF’S~ executive chef Jonnatan Leiva found at the market with Farmers’ Market Finds Saturdays. Every Saturday after Leiva visits the market, he will select the day’s freshest finds and serve a taste for $5 along with $3 wine pairings—it could be anything seasonal, like fresh figs with cheese. And starting Saturday, July 21, Jack Falstaff will begin a weekly four-course Farmers’ Market Finds prix-fixe menu served family-style every Saturday evening. The menu is $55 per person with optional wine pairings for just an additional $20. 598 Second St. at Brannan, 415-836-9239.

While I was in New York I spotted the location of the new Pinkberry on Spring Street, but to be honest, I kept walking since I had a gelato from Il Laboratorio del Gelato on my mind. For those craving a taste of the natural yogurt craze sweeping L.A. like UGG boots did, you can check out ~YOGURT BAR~ at Union, which just opened in the Marina last week. You can get either plain or green tea low-fat frozen yogurt with a variety of toppings, like fresh fruit and dry toppings. Open Sun–Thu 11am–10pm and 11am–11pm Fri–Sat, closed on Mondays. 2760 Octavia St. at Union, 415-441-2585.

And now for something completely different: ~THE DITTYBOPS~, a musical duo, are embarking on a tour of America on July 28 in Los Angeles, and the purpose of their tour is to promote locally produced and organic food. Along the way, they will play about 20 shows in traditional venues. They will try to set up a farmer’s market in the lobby of each venue (or parking lot), and will be carrying an Earth box in the van and growing food in the van with a grow light. One of these will be auctioned off each night from the stage, with the proceeds going to Growing Connection. During the day they will be setting up appearances and shows on local farms and farmers markets, as well as high schools and colleges, as benefits for local farm organizations. They will also have a daily podcast and blog that will include video and audio interviews with farmers, chefs, and fans. Along the way they will be shooting a pilot of a television show hosted by the Dittybops during which they will be traveling the country bringing farmers and chefs together to share stories and cook local food. You can check out their site for all their set locations, but locally they will be in Concord August 2, Santa Cruz August 3, Berkeley on August 4, and Mill Valley August 5, touring the U.S. until September 8. A for effort.