July 11, 2006

Those of you who tuned in to the Dining Around show on Saturday heard my announcement that ~supperclub~ now has a new Executive Chef, Jon Stevens, who just started this week. He is replacing the opening chef, Jerry McGinnis, who has chosen to step down, move on, and pursue various other culinary opportunities. Stevens was the Chef de Cuisine at Aurora Maison de Cuisine, reputed as being the finest restaurant in Dallas, Texas, plus Chef de Cuisine for the Mercury at Willow Bend, and was also head chef at Bungalow 44 in Mill Valley, along with some stints at Jardinière (Chef de Partie), MECCA (sous), and alongside Chef Sylvain Portay at The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. supperclub has also hired Jean-Gabriel Ferrandon as Sous Chef, who spent three years working with Alain Ducasse and at La Tour de Argent in Paris before relocating to San Francisco.

After speaking with Alex Lustberg, one of the partners of supperclub (the other partner is Tad Glauthier), he expressed how excited they are about having Stevens on board, and are firmly focused on their goal of fine-tuning the food to elevate it to another level. We talked a bit about the dinner service and how it can sometimes run a bit long—he told me how they have tightened up the Sunday night and mid-week service so it's a slightly quicker pace than during Thursday-Saturday, when people like to hang out more. (Good to note for those of you who would like to go on a Wednesday, but don't want to have a leisurely five-course dinner that extends until 11pm.) supperclub's one-year anniversary is this September, but they are celebrating early with a new state-of-the-art sound system, a custom-designed EAW sound system, the first of its kind, designed to provide an unsurpassed auditory experience, specifically designed to optimize dinner lounge music.

Lustberg also mentioned supperclub's expansion plans to L.A. and New York. In L.A., they will be taking over the historic Vogue Theater in Hollywood (it's been empty for ten years), near Musso and Frank's and the Hollywood and Vine intersection—he said they are now beginning the stage of "permitting gymnastics," and plan to open in a year or so. The same designers, Concrete Architectural Associates of Amsterdam, will be designing the restaurant, which will feature a larger lounge than the SF location. In New York, they are hoping to finalize the deal on a space in the Meatpacking District on West 14th Street, with a roof deck! The plan is to create a network of supperclubs, where their cutting-edge ideas about performance, food, and art can be traded freely, a nationwide salon of talent.

This is one major bummer piece of news—one of my top ten favorite restaurants is sadly leaving us: last week I got a call from the GM of ~WINTERLAND~ telling me their last day of business is this Saturday, the 15th. They've been open since March of '05, and it's a shame more people didn't experience the restaurant this past year—Chef Vernon Morales turned out some of the most interesting, savory, fragrant, textured, and unique cuisine in the city. It was a total chef's restaurant—you'd always see at least one person in the industry dining or drinking in there. I went in for my last meal at the bar last week: I had to bid farewell to the poached egg app. Oh, and the French toast dessert. (I also managed to munch on some shisito peppers and tripe too.) So get yourself in there this week so you can experience it before it's all sadly over. Such a shame—the owner, Georges Yazbek, is so kind—thank you Georges for trying! Morales is going to take a break for a little bit—we'll see where he lands (hopefully somewhere in the 415). Pastry chef extraordinaire Boris Portnoy scooted over to Campton Place a couple months ago—I'm eating at CP this week, and looking forward to seeing what he's up to. Thanks Winterland for trying to do something different—you were greatly appreciated by a number of gourmands in this town.

There's also been a BIG change-up at ~MECCA~ (or as I like to affectionately refer to it, Armageddon, because of a night of one too many martinis at the bar with a friend of mine—we were beyond wrecked). But we're not here to discuss my bad martini habits—the real news is MECCA has a new Executive Chef (and partner), Randy Lewis, who is replacing Sergio Santiago. And based on what I read on Restaurant Girl, looks like they will have a new kitchen staff as well since the entire staff walked out last week. Drama! Randy Lewis was most recently the Executive Chef/Culinary Director for The Kendall Jackson Wine Group estates, and was also voted by Food & Wine Magazine as one of ten "Best New Chefs" in America in 2001 while in New Orleans at the restaurant Indigo. Some of you Aspen-goers might have seen him last month at the Food and Wine Classic where he was a judge. MECCA should have Lewis's entirely new menu in place come August, highlighting his "fresh and fun, global and seasonal" cooking. Sounds about right to me.

~SCALA'S~ closed for a major remodel on July 4, and will reopen on August 5. ~BIX~ is also closed right now for some repairs and maintenance until July 12.

This is some lovely news: the Chef de Cuisine of Rue Saint Jacques and Côté Sud, ~ERIC LANVERT~, is back in the kitchen full time after not one but two heart attacks, and a quintuple bypass surgery. Jeez Louise. So glad he's doing better! Wish him all the best—maybe on Bastille Day this coming Friday: Rue St. Jacques is adding a special menu for $57 (does not include tax or tip), featuring frogs legs, foie gras terrine, half a Maine lobster, and dessert. How's that for Frenchy luxury? 1098 Jackson St. @ Taylor, 776-2002. (See, I didn't make a single comment about Italy gloriously beating the French—oh, wait, I just did.)