March 27, 2007

After realizing the lease was most likely not going to be renewed in a couple years’ time, Bay Bread decided to pull out of ~PLATANOS~ in the Mission, and an amicable deal was struck. (It really wasn’t a core business for them.) The restaurant closed on Sunday the 18th. The landlord is taking over—reportedly he has turned down other offers since his sons are interested in the space and want to do their own project there. More to come… 598 Guerrero St., at 18th St., 415-252-9281.

In other Bay Bread news, ~CORTEZ~ is on track to reopen soon. It passed inspection, the concrete has been poured, and now the remodeling, painting, and new flooring is all underway. Target date to reopen is April 23. Good news—a few people in the kitchen and front of house will be returning. They also have a new GM, Peter Riswold, who was formerly at the Huntington and Belden Taverna. He’s worked at some big restaurants in Hawaii, and has something like 25-30 years of experience. Hotel Adagio, 550 Geary St., at Jones St., 415-292-6360.

Okay, an important piece of NOPA news. And it’s not about the wildly popular restaurant, but the newly coined neighborhood in the 94117. Lisa Zahner, the Divisadero Corridor Manager for the Mayor's Office of Economic Development, is trying to get the ~DMV to open their parking lot~ for nights and weekend parking. Yes, brilliant, like it was in the old days. So those of you coming to the ‘hood to see shows at the Independent or eat at NOPA or Little Star can actually have a parking place, and not take up precious few spots that prevent friends from coming over to my place for cocktails. If you visit or live in this neighborhood, please fill in this brief survey and may parking karma be yours, and mine.

Since we’re kickin’ it in the Divis Corridor: ~CAFÉ ABIR~ is going through a major renovation: the café was closed about a week ago and there is just a coffee kiosk for now. The owners, the Dajani Group, are updating the space, changing the layout to allow more room for their expanding whole bean selection, and are adding a specialty wine and sake shop with a small wine bar/counter where you can taste before you buy. The café’s menu is also being expanded, with pastas, rotisserie chicken, and gourmet panini being added. The same number of seats will remain, and the magazine stand will also stay. They hope to reopen the whole space at the end of May. 1300 Fulton St., at Divisadero St, 415-567-6503.

North Beach residents make have noticed the major renovation ~BANGKOK GARDEN~ recently underwent—pretty impressive for only two weeks’ time. The cozy/classy atmosphere is now hip and contemporary with imported furnishings from Thailand. Woods abound, like cherry wood on the floor, plus golden teak, and wallpapers with gold leaf. There will be differences between lunch and dinner service, with table runners brought out for dinner, and white plates to highlight the colors of the Thai spices. A few more details are getting finalized, like new menu and wine list covers, and some drinks are in development. 1398 Grant Ave., at Green St., 415-981-8008.

And just around the corner, North Beach will soon have its own hotspot for wine and bites, ~DELL' UVA~, in the former Café Verde space. The project comes from Jason Marcucci (an SF native who has cooked at Eastside West and the former Neo, and packs an MBA from USF) and Juri McCorkle, whose background includes culinary school in LA, a year at the culinary institute in Italy, working on a couple vineyards, and catering. They both have a vision for a comfortable and casual place where you can try quality wines for about $6 a glass (all one price—there will be no hunting up and down the list for the price you want), along with some inexpensive tapas, like stuffed sweet peppers and crispy-crust pizzas for only $3-$8. There will be other finger foods, like charcuterie, cheeses, and other antipasti as well. The list will be global-eclectic, spanning from Greece to Australia to even Hawaii, with 30 by the glass, and 20 or so by the bottle. Wine will also be available for off-premise purchase. There will be room for 30-40 inside, with 16 seats outside. They are trying to be as sustainable as possible with the build-out, using recycled wood, and cork floors. There will be some groovy Moroccan lighting and a mahogany bar. Anticipated hours will be 4pm-midnight Wed-Sun, and they plan to host private events and wine tastings Mon-Tue. They are aiming for an early May opening. 565 Green St., between Grant and Columbus, 415-393-9930.

So down in the Mission, next door to Roosevelt Tamale Parlor is what was supposed to be ~CHURROS Y CHOCOLATE~. That project is now on hold and what has moved in there instead is La Torta Gorda, which had lost its home next door to Casa Sanchez a while back. Armando the torta master is partners with Isaac Mejia in the project, and is overseeing the restaurant. He opens way early in the morning (like 6am for all those hungry BFI guys) and closes early in the evening. Soon, the intention is to fire up the churro machine and serve ‘em with coffee and chocolate later into the night and on the weekends, like it was originally planned. But for now, it’s just tortas to go. 817 24th St., between Bryant St. and York St.

Next door at ~ROOSEVELT'S~, Mejia is tweaking the Mission District Mexican menu, changing it to include more of the dishes on the menu of his restaurant in San Bruno, Don Pico’s. There will be more innovative seafood dishes added, and ceviches. Mejia is bringing one of his cooks up from Don Pico’s to get things in place. 2817 24th St., between Bryant St. and York St., 415-824-2600.

It’s official: ~ROBBIE LEWIS~ has taken the helm at bacar. Some impending changes include closing the exhibition kitchen, and you know he’s going to be getting all soigné with the menu—one dish being discussed is venison slow-poached in duck fat (mmmm, duck fat) and a chef’s tasting menu will be available. 448 Brannan St., at 4th St., 415-904-4100.

Aqua’s restaurant manager, ~TYLER WINTERHOLLER~, has departed, and is starting up at Bruce Hill’s Restaurant Picco in Larkspur. Winterholler was the GM at C&L Steakhouse, and when it closed they integrated him into Aqua. He starts April 1.

Over in Ghirardelli Square, ~CELLAR 360~ from Healdsburg will be a new tenant, occupying over 6,000 square-feet of retail space where customers can purchase wine and accessories, or taste wine alongside dishes designed to pair with them. Wines will hail from many regions, including California's Napa and Sonoma AVAs, Australia, New Zealand, and Italy. There will also be some wine education and tastings hosted by wine educators from COPIA. Outdoor seating is in effect as well. Slated to open in late summer of 2007.

And after what has seemed like forever, ~PATISSERIE PHILIPPE~ has finally opened up, as of yesterday. On the menu: breakfast treats and brioches, and lunch brings baguette or focaccia sandwiches and grilled panini, salads, and quiches. And of course there are plenty of sweet treats for any time of the day, like tarts, cookies, and teacakes. Open Mon-Fri 8am-6pm, Sat 8am-5pm. 655 Townsend St., between 7th St. and 8th St., 415-558-8016.

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