June 16, 2009

A little birdie tells me Erica Holland-Toll (most recently the chef at the former Lark Creek Inn) is the new executive chef of ~DUCCA~ and the Westin (she just started yesterday). The current menu is going to be intact for a few months, and she will start making changes then. Chef Richard Corbo's last day is this Friday. 50 Third St. at Market, 415-977-0271.

~MARINO~ in Hayes Valley has opened (it's the spot that used to house Frjtz, and Mad Magda's for you old timers). Owner Raul Vargas has put together a menu that is designed to please the neighborhood: namely, he acquiesced and is offering burritos. But they don't come cheap: the initial menu I received says $8.95. There are also a number of seafood dishes, from a coctel or tostada or tacos de camaron to shrimp and crab enchiladas. The menu seems pretty straightforward (plates of carne asada, carnitas, or chile verde with rice, beans, and tortillas) and isn't specific to any one region of Mexico. But it's definitely more of a restaurante than a taqueria. Beer and wine served. Open daily 11am–10pm. 579 Hayes St. at Laguna, 415-626-1162.



Your outdoor dining options with a view just got bigger and better: ~SLANTED DOOR~ is now offering seating on their patio, 44 seats in all. The tables are available for walk-ins, but if someone with a reservation for inside wants an outside table, they get first dibs. The tables are good for two or four, and there are heat lamps to help deal with our typical brisk weather. The full menu is available, and the tables are open for both lunch and dinner. 1 Ferry Building #3, 415-861-8032.



More in Phan-land… I have some exciting news for late-night diners: starting on Monday June 29th, ~HEAVEN'S DOG~ will serve the full menu from Monday–Saturday until 1am! Based on the delicious meal I just had last week, I am pretty excited with the prospect of having their edamame salad (made with bean curd ribbons and chili oil) and the meaty/fatty char sui pork late in the evening. This would be after getting tipsy off of Erik Adkins's bevvies, like the tasty Gin Fizz Tropical, and the Manhattan I tried that he made with absinthe and curacao. Yes, dangerous. (FYI, hours on Sunday are 4:30pm–9:30pm). 1148 Mission St. at 7th St., 415-863-6008.

Fortunately the other place where I am likely to tie one on while dining is also extending their kitchen hours to 1am: ~ALEMBIC~! The kitchen is doing their magic until 1am nightly. Huzzah. 1725 Haight St. at Cole, 415-666-0822.

In case you happen to run into Steven Oliver at ~ENRICO'S~, it's because the local GM and (party) host extraordinaire has been brought on to help out for a few months. Swing by, have a cocktail, and say hello! 504 Broadway Ave. at Kearny, 415-982-6223.

When I was pedaling home from brunch on Sunday at Pomelo, I noticed the long-awaited/mysterious ~XANATH ICE CREAM~ is finally open. While every ice cream place around town is giving us flavors like burnt caramel or prosciutto, Xanath is being true to its name and offering a variety of vanillas, including Mexican or regular vanilla. There's also saffron, espresso, and 10 or so other flavors (using Straus Family Creamery ice cream mix), plus frozen yogurt, and milkshakes. Everything is organic, and the spoons and cups are compostable. Fun fact: the owners import vanilla and saffron, hence the ginormous bottles of vanilla extract in the window. The windows could also use a little merchandising help, but hey, we all can't be Simon Doonan. Hours Sun–Thu 12pm–10pm, Fri–Sat 12pm–11pm. 951 Valencia St. at 21st St., 415-648-8996.

Thanks to a tip from tablehopper reader Paul G., ~CHA-YA~, the Japanese-vegetarian restaurant on Valencia will be opening a third location, this time in the Inner Sunset. It's going to be in the long-shuttered Empress Garden Restaurant space. I called to confirm with the Cha-Ya folks, and it should be open within the next week or two. 1386 9th Ave. at Judah.

The Cha-Ya opening will perhaps help soften the blow of the closure of ~CAFÉ GRATITUDE~ for vegans and vegetarians, which just shuttered its Sunset location after three years of business. 1336 9th Ave. at Irving.

A little activity out in the Richmond: some soju-lovin' locals were bummed with the closure of ~ROHAN LOUNGE~ back in May. Well, a former Rohan server, her sister (who is a chef), and their good friend (who was a bartender and server at Rohan) all went in together, and are now taking over the space. They are going to reopen it in July as ~MAZU~, named after a mythological goddess of the sea. The partners are sisters KK and Silma Salamin, and Leah Adiol—they are all local San Franciscans who grew up together. They will continue the soju lounge style, serving Pan-Asian fare (chef Silma Salamin has worked at Ozumo, Hayes Street Grill, and Mezze in Oakland). Look for new art, DJs, and a freshening up of the space (new upholstery for the booths, paint, etc.). They're excited to take good care of the space and bring it back. I'll keep you posted as it gets closer. 3809 Geary Blvd. at 2nd Ave.

More Richmond news: the second location of ~PAGAN~ is now open in the former Eva's Hawaiian Restaurant, serving Burmese dishes for lunch and dinner, Tue–Sun (but they won't be serving any Thai food like the original location does). 731 Clement St. at 8th Ave., 415-221-3888.

According to permits, it looks like there's a shabu place opening called ~PRIME RIB SHABU~ in the Wang Daegam tofu/BBQ house, a few doors over from Troya. 308 5th Ave. at Clement, 415-668-1858.



tablehopper reader Peter F. went to check out ~ORALIA'S~, the new café/deli from The New Spot owners (Julia and Gilbert Rivera), and even sent in this picture of his pastrami sandwich. On the menu: hand-carved meats, like corned beef, ham, turkey, pastrami, and roast beef, which you can have put into a sandwich ($8) or as a lunch plate with two sides and a roll ($8.49). There are also some hearty daily specials like lamb or ribs, salads made with organic greens, and regular cold sandwiches, like egg salad, plus coffee from La Colombe, and bagels for breakfast. Oh yeah, and Fridays you get a free side with an order of a hot sandwich. Hours are Mon–Fri 7:30am–4pm. 2347 3rd St. at 22nd St., 415-621-2346.

Also a bit off the beaten path, reader Karen Z. writes in this tip about ~LA MICHOACANA ON BAYSHORE~: "In the space of the former El Potrillo, 300A Bayshore at Oakdale. I used to like Potrillo for its big beefy carne asada burritos, but haven't been to the new version: fresh paint, a newly glassed-in patio, big 'Grand Opening' sign. Maybe they're preparing for an influx of visitors to what may be Lowe's in the site of the old Goodman's Lumber (where "

Just a reminder for you Showplace Square-worker types: ~HORATIUS~, a bistro and market in Potrero Hill, is slated to open tomorrow, on Wednesday June 17th. And the 30 outdoor seats are reportedly on the sunny side of Kansas Street. Bistro hours: Mon–Sat 7am–3pm, and lunch entrées start at 11am. 350 Kansas St. at 16th St., 415-252-3500.

Curious what is going into the soon-to-be-revamped line-up at the ~METREON~? The fast-casual players include a La Boulange from Bay Bread, Mixt Greens, a Best-o-Burger, and a "new Asian noodle concept from Arnold Eric Wong and the other owners of E&O Trading Co." You can read the San Francisco Business Times article here for all the details. (The article also mentioned that Steve Weber's Best-o-Burger will be opening "in One Market in about two months and a third will open near Union Square before the Metreon's official rebirth." As for Tavern on the Green opening here in SF, the timing is still TBD since the New York location's lease renewal is in flux—stand by. Mission and 4th St.



More life is happening on Sacramento Street: as previously reported, ~WEXLER'S~ opened last week, servin' up southern comfort food and new American BBQ and more for lunch and dinner. 568 Sacramento St. at Montgomery, 415-983-0102.

And now ~PALIO D'ASTI~ is open on Saturday nights again, from 6pm–9pm. (They haven't been open on Saturdays since 1995.) And bonus, there's plenty of free street parking around there after 7pm, so you can actually go out in heels without the hike. On Saturdays only, they will also throw in a complimentary antipasto platter. A few more things to note: every night, including Saturday, the first martini is only $1 with a three-course meal ($37/head, no matter what you order). And if you're doing the three-courser, there is no corkage either (every night)! That makes for one heck of an inexpensive meal: a $1 martini, $37 for three courses, and you could even bring your own wine. Plus a free antipasto platter if you're comin' in on a Saturday. 640 Sacramento St. at Montgomery St., 415-362-6003.

Sounds like it's time to segue to meal deals, no?



Does it get much cheaper than hot dogs? They may be recession-friendly, but they are also perfect for customizing and gourmand-izing. I got to taste an early prototype of ~4505 MEATS'~ hawt dawg a few weeks ago (verdict: delicious, naturally). And now the 2.0 version of the dog will be served at Wexler's, in addition to a BBQ at Elixir on Sunday from 4pm–7pm. $5 for a hot dog, just pay inside and you'll get a ticket, then go visit mister-chef Ryan Farr, who will be manning the big half-keg grill setup outside. Elixir will then have the dogs available at the bar on other nights, warmed up on a George Foreman grill. Good old George. 3200 16th St. at Guerrero, 415-552-1633.

~PALS' TAKEAWAY~ is going to be doing a weekly 4505 chili dog every Friday, consistently starting next Friday the 26th.There will be various styles (cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, etc.) at about $7 a pop (I am basing this on a previous chili dog Friday price). 2751 24th St. at Hampshire.

I also hear those evil geniuses at ~BROKEN RECORD~ are wrapping their 4505 dogs in bacon, dipping them in corn batter, and deep frying 'em. Brutal. Beautiful. 1166 Geneva Ave. at Naples St., 415-963-1713.

~SOZAI~ in the Sunset is now offering $1 oysters during their happy hour, which runs Wed–Sun from 5:30pm–7pm. During happy hour, Sapporo pitchers are $8, 12 oz. Asahi beers are $3, and warm sake is $5 per carafe. There are also two happy hour food specials daily, each for $3. 1500 Irving St. at 16th Ave., 415-235-7745.

Dine About Town has ended, which means ~ANA MANDARA'S~ Stimulus Menu will be available again. It's $35 per person, with your choice of starter (lemongrass chicken skewers, vegetarian wraps, or banana blossom salad); an entrée (sautéed garlic prawns, crispy-skin five-spiced poussin, or wokked lemongrass beef); and for dessert, Valhrona dark chocolate semifreddo or house-made ice cream or sorbet. Ana Mandara also has live jazz and happy hour specials in the Cham Bar Thu–Sat every week. I have to admit I have never eaten there, but I was impressed with chef Khai's cookin' at Pot de Pho, so it's now on my "to check out" list. 891 Beach St. at Polk, 415-771-6800.

And now, the bad news: some closures/changes:

Noe Valley blog noticed that Stefano Coppola's short-lived ~CITY GRILL~ (previously Kookez) has shuttered. According to a commenter, Coppola is reportedly opening a French bistro in its place, Bistro 24. Stand by for more. 4123 24th St. at Castro, 415-285-2400.

A reader wrote in to tell me it appears that ~INDULGENCE~ in the Financial District has closed. Didn't get a chance to indulge? Me neither. 375 Bush St. at Belden.

Another Financial District casualty: was informed by Jason B. that the ~FIRE HOUSE CAFÉ~ has closed as well. 545 Sansome St. at Washington.

Some news south of the City:


Redwood City's ~MARTINS WEST~ finally got its liquor license, cheers. Cocktails will now be shaken, and Scotch will be lovingly poured. 831 Main St., Redwood City, 650-366-4366.

~DONATO ENOTECA~ in Redwood City will open on Monday June 22nd. Chef Scotti (who is from Bergamo) has crafted a menu that looks mighty appetizing, including fried baby artichokes, house-made pastas like agnolotti dal plin and ravioli made of fava beans and ricotta. There are also a few pizzas from the wood oven, plus grilled branzino, and a couple meat dishes. 1041 Middlefield Rd. at Jefferson, Redwood City, 650-701-1000.

~SAKOON~, the new Indian restaurant in downtown Mountain View, is due to open this Friday the 19th. 357 Castro St., Mountain View, 650-965-2000.

Down in San Jose, Roland Passot's ~LB STEAK~ (as in Left Bank) opens today, June 16th. To recap, this is the modern steakhouse that's opening in the Tanglewood space. You can read a sneak peek from Carolyn Jung on her Food Gal blog. One staggering item on the menu: Passot's escargot-bone marrow gratin. Mon dieu. The lunch menu includes sandwiches, pastas, salads, and six kinds of burgers, plus seafood and vegetarian dishes. There is also a bar and lounge area for drinks and small bites. Open daily for lunch and dinner. 334 Santana Row, San Jose, 408-551-4611.