May 16, 2006

Okay, you cream puff phreeks: ~BEARD PAPA~ has finally and officially opened. They opened their doors last Friday. It would have probably been an even bigger deal if people could find the damned place since it's on a weird little alley that isn't on any maps yet. I have reposted the address below so you don't get lost wandering SoMa moaning for your cream puffs. And you know what? Believe the hype—those puffs are hella tasty. And they come with a mother lode of custard mixed with cream in them. Delicious custardy cream with real vanilla bean. I was lucky enough to be at a party this weekend where a little angel brought a box of them. Go, add to the hype! Go now! 99 Yerba Buena Lane, between Market and Mission Streets, and 3rd and 4th Streets, 415-978-9972.

And now, calling all fried chicken phreeks: tonight (Tuesday night) is ~MAVERICK'S~monthly fried chicken night (it's every third Tuesday of the month). I personally can't vouch for it, but supposedly people are into it. If they have their own mailing list for it, then you know it's gotta be good. You'll be happy to know Maverick has also made some changes to the interior, including spotlights over the tables so you can admire your plate of food with a little more than candlelight, and even more importantly, they have put up some sound-reducing panels on the ceiling. Hallelujah. (Just don't yell it.)

There is some seriously big stuff happening in the Historic Fillmore Jazz District over the next coming year. Like, we're going to really have a really unique and exciting destination for live music and good food and world-class entertainment, restoring some energy and vibrancy to an area that used to be famous for its music and nightlife. (Rasselas and the Boom Boom Room will finally have some company.) Some of you already know about the ~FILLMORE HERITAGE CENTER~, which broke ground last September, and is being managed by local urban real estate developer Em Johnson Interest, Inc. The $68 million mixed-use space is at the corner of Fillmore and Eddy, and is slated to open in March 2007. It will feature a 6,000-square-foot Jazz Heritage Center that will document the history of jazz in the Fillmore District, and will include a gallery and screening room, and a retail store. There will also be 80 mixed-income condominium-housing units. But the biggest news is in April 2007, it will be the second location of Yoshi's, called ~YOSHI'S SAN FRANCISCO JAZZ CLUB & JAPANESE RESTAURANT~. This location will be a 26,500 square-foot, two-story venue (yeah, massive) with seating for 420 (sweet!). (420 people, silly.) And that's just in the jazz club—the restaurant and lounge will have room for more than 300. Like its East Bay location, Yoshi's will continue to feature the best of local, national, and international jazz artists. I can't think of anything like it in the city, really.

Opening in late spring will also be the ~BLUE MIRROR RESTAURANT & LOUNGE~, a 6,000 square-foot restaurant that takes it's name from one of the many jazz clubs that were legendary in the Fillmore area, especially in the 1950s. Chef/owner David Lawrence and his wife, Monetta White, want to build upon the nostalgia of the good old days of the jazz district, offering a modernized interpretation. The restaurant will seat 75-80 and will include a private dining room, plus there will be a lounge and a bar area seating 25-30 guests. The space is meant balance upscale and casual, blending a neighborhood vibe with a timeless and classic atmosphere with modern touches. The designer is McCartan Design (who did the sleek yet natural interior of the Hotel Vitale and Americano Restaurant) and Zack/de Vito is the architect (bacar, Gordon's House of Fine Eats, Globe, Manresa). The menu is going to be American-Californian with a French-soul influence, so you could find truffle Parmesan fries one night or sweet potato fries the other. Dinner will be served nightly, with a late-night menu that will please the crowds leaving Yoshi's after a show wraps up. Eventually, the Blue Mirror plans on hosting a jazz brunch and lunch. Lawrence has been in the business for 27 years, and was most recently the chef at the Carnelian Room (for seven and a half years), and prior to that was the opening chef at the Essex Supper Club, in addition to stints at 231 Ellsworth in San Mateo, and Cityscape at the Hilton. It will be a pleasure to see him doing his own thing at the Blue Mirror, and putting his French training and skills to work. White, his wife, is a native San Franciscan, and is keen to continue the legacy of jazz in the city; she previously did marketing for Real Restaurants for seven-eight years, and produced corporate events. 1300 Fillmore St. at Eddy St.

Then there's going to be ~FILLMO' BETTA RESTAURANT AND LOUNGE~~, a project from Joseph Manzare (Globe, Zuppa, Tres Agaves), Gary Banks, and Keith Jackson. Banks, a minister, grew up in the Fillmore, and his father was in the restaurant biz in Bayview—now it's his turn, he says. He's known Manzare for over ten years, and they're all excited to be working on this project together. For now it's a raw space, but come March 2007, it will be a boutique restaurant and lounge (1,900 square feet) with a late-night '20s-'30s Chicago jazz-club vibe, courtesy of Zack/de Vito. The restaurant will be serving modern comfort food late into the night, plus brunch and lunch too. Expect a Southern touch with traditional soul dishes on the menu, with a number of smoked meats, including Niman Ranch baby-back pork ribs, house-made Louisiana pork sausage, marinated lamb riblets, plus buttermilk fried chicken, popcorn rock shrimp, deviled eggs, salmon croquettes, and desserts like pecan pie and Key lime pie. (I am getting very hungry as I write this.) Greg Washington, the GM of Globe, is assisting with the launch, and Mark Bright of Michael Mina is the consulting sommelier. 1520 Eddy St. at Fillmore St.

So it looks like the previously shady bar, ~VXN~, on the corner of Broadway and Columbus, is becoming Byblos Bar and Grill. There used to be a BybLos on Lombard serving Lebanese/Mediterranean food—perhaps it's the same owners? I will let you know when I know more…

After 23 years in business, ~SAIGON SAIGON~ on Valencia Street will be closing. Seems like their rent doubled, so they'll be closing their doors at the end of the month. The new owners reportedly have a Mediterranean restaurant. 1132 Valencia St.

Further down Valencia, ~THE OPIUM DEN~ has moved into the former Baku de Thai space at the corner of 15th Street. It will continue to be a Thai restaurant, with free delivery for orders over $15, and a relatively affordable menu. This is the second restaurant from the owners of Bangkok Best on Kearny at Sutter. 400 Valencia St., 415-437-4788.