May 5, 2009

Big congrats to all the ~JAMES BEARD~ winners (and nominees!). Nate Appleman won Rising Star Chef (!!), and Douglas Keane of Cyrus won Best Chef: Pacific. Also, my fabulous new publisher has a winning Cookbook of the Year for Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes (author: Jennifer McLagan, publisher: Ten Speed Press, editor: Clancy Drake). For more info on all the winners, please visit jamesbeard.org.

A few updates on delayed projects around town: first, I thought I was going to have a big write-up for you on ~BAR CRUDO~ this week, but I’m saving it for next week since the new location isn’t opening until Friday the 15th. Bar Crudo on Bush is due to close this Saturday. 603 Bush St. at Stockton, 415-956-0396; 655 Divisadero at Grove.

In the Sunset, ~EBISU~ is now looking like it’s opening on Tuesday May 12th. You can check out the updated menu on the new site in the meantime (additions include a robata menu and traditional shabu shabu). 1283 9th Ave. at Judah, 415-566-1770.

I was so happy to read on Eater that ~TAJINE~ is returning! Mohamed Ghaleb is reopening his Moroccan outpost this Thursday May 7th in the Heights on Van Ness, which is normally a nightclub. He’ll be doing a prix-fixe menu Tue–Sun (closed Mon) for $29.95, which will include soup, salad, appetizers like chicken or vegetarian basteeya or a Merguez plate, choice of entrée (lamb or fish tajine, and other items), couscous, plus mint tea and other treats. He also mentioned there will be a number of vegetarian choices, and there will be a bar menu available with smaller dishes. Ghaleb has brought back a lot of fabric from Morocco, so he’ll be using it to create a lush atmosphere, and will offer low seating with lots of pillows in the dining area. You’ll also be able to eat with your hands (don’t worry, there will be a hand-washing ceremony prior, and rosewater at the end). The place will morph into its club-like existence Friday and Saturday nights. Kitchen hours: 5pm–10pm. 2080 Van Ness at Pacific.

More kebabs: the transformation from Pita Pit to ~MARINA & KEBAB~ is complete. This is a second location for Hayes Valley's Hayes & Kebab (hence the nomenclature). The menu is close to the same (think wraps, kebab plates, etc.), except no moussaka since the kitchen is smaller; you can familiarize yourself with the Hayes & Kebab menu here. A tablehopper reader reports the hummus is on point. Hours are Sun–Thu 11am–10pm and Fri–Sat 11am–2am. Yup, late-night Mediterranean! 2257 Chestnut St. at Scott, 415-441-901.

Also in the Marina, the very small ~LET’S BE FRANK “DOGHOUSE”~ is open. Well, a Cass Calder Smith-designed doghouse. You’ll be able to get their trademark grass-fed beef hot dogs and family-farmed pork brats, new spicy "hot" dogs, and a "Not Dog" (it’s vegan!), Devil Sauce (can’t wait to try it), plus chili made with heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo, Bi-Rite Creamery ice cream sandwiches, local beers, and wines. Hours are Mon–Sun 11am–7pm to start, with possibly later hours coming on Fri–Sat, stand by. 3318 Steiner St. at Chestnut, 415-674-6755.

I had a chance to take a peek at the new ~SCHMIDT’S DELI~, opening for lunch tomorrow (Wednesday). To recap, Christiane Schmidt of Walzwerk and her boyfriend, furniture designer and architect David Pierce, are behind the 49-seat project. Until their wine and beer license kicks in, they are just going to be serving sandwiches on German bread (including Westphalian ham and veal schnitzel), sausages (five kinds, like wild boar and Thüringer bratwurst), salads, and soups, plus coffee from De La Paz during the week. Homesick Germans will say “now’s the time in sprockets when we shop!” when they see the well-stocked shelves of authentic and hard-to-find items, like plum jam-mousse, sugar beet syrup, gooseberries, pickles, herring, curry ketchup, and mustards. Schmidt’s will also have Bionade, a tasty non-alcoholic drink I tried at the Fancy Food Show. You can also get your carbs on with the supply of pretzels, strudels, and other baked goods from Esther’s Bakery in Mountain View. Eventually there will be espresso, eight German beers on draft, and the large refrigerated case behind the counter will be full of wines (15 reds and whites) and bottled beers. It’s a cool corner spot, outfitted with lots of repurposed materials, including a lovely walnut communal table. Initial hours will be Mon–Fri 11am–3pm. Once the permit kicks in, hours will be 11am–11pm. 2400 Folsom St. at 20th St., 415-410-0202.

Also in the Mission, the ~BLUE MACAW~ had its opening party this weekend. It’s in the former 12 Galaxies location—I will hopefully have more details on the food, line-up, etc. next week for you. 2565 Mission St. at 22nd St.

Received this tip from a reader: “I noticed that ~ROHAN LOUNGE~ was closed for business this weekend. Sign on their door indicated that it was for nonpayment of rent (notice from landlord) and it looked like Rohan had posted a sign saying that they were ‘Closed for Business.’ Seemed pretty final!” I couldn’t reach anyone from the lounge, but with a closed for business sign up, I’d say sadly, yes, the odds are good they are closed. 3809 Geary Blvd. at 2nd Ave.

After being closed for a week for renovations and freshening up, ~ZUNI~ reopens today. Here are the updates to the space: the front staircase leading up to the mezzanine has been redone; all of the floors in the upstairs dining rooms have new parquet planks; there has been a little resizing of some seating areas (plus there are new restored chairs to come); the brick oven interior was rebuilt; everything was cleaned, waxed, re-grouted, some tables got new table bases, and all of the service stations upstairs have been redone. There’s also a new gallery hanging work now (Hackett-Freedman closed and so now Dolby Chadwick is loaning work). 1658 Market St. at Franklin, 415-552-2522.

Here’s more on ~URBAN TAVERN’S~ changes since executive chef Chad Newton has departed. The new exec is Mary O’Neill, who was most recently the executive sous chef. The menu is supposed to show more of a gastropub focus, using seasonal and local ingredients. 333 O'Farrell St. at Mason, 415-923-4400.

A tablehopper reader writes in “~ROCCO'S~, the old school Italian diner on Folsom at the end of my street has been shut down for the last week for a remodel.” The reopening is slated for the 12th. 1131 Folsom St. at 7th St., 415-554-0522.

Another bit of news on Folsom: Ryan “Pig Man” Farr of 4505 Meats and Taylor Boetticher of Fatted Calf are at it again at ~BLOODHOUND~ (the bar name is almost too appropriate), this time butchering a pig on site and preparing it for the hungry masses. The pig will be grilled, and there will also be a rotisserie goin’ with pork shoulders and pork butts, plus sausages, chicharrones, and corn dogs, as well as Taylor’s assortment of pates and other fine meats. The event is next Wednesday May 13th, 6pm-9pm, $25 per person. Bartender Dylan O’Brien will be crafting another homemade bacon-infused Bulleit bourbon, served Old Fashioned-style (while supplies last). Space is limited, RSVP to info [at] bloodhoundsf.com. 1145 Folsom St. at 7th St.

The Recession Sure As Hell Ain’t Over, Let’s Look at Some Meal Deals:


There’s a new dinner offering at ~WATERBAR RESTAURANT~: the Monday Shellfish & Champagne dinner series. For $60 per person, diners get a three-course prix-fixe meal accompanied by three sparkling wines. The menu changes weekly: May 11th is the sea scallop dinner, while May 18th is the Maine Regional dinner, with Bouchet mussels and Maine lobster (natch). 399 The Embarcadero at Folsom, 415-284-9922.

Pig Out Tuesdays launches tonight at ~BETELNUT~, featuring a platter of delicious roast pork, organic wok-tossed farmers’ market vegetables and jasmine rice, only $24.88 for two (you know, lucky number eight…). Every Tuesday, the restaurant will roast a fresh 40-pound Duroc pig from Iowa’s Vande Rose Farms in its Chinese oven until it’s crispy on the outside, and moist and succulent on the inside. Chef Alex Ong was inspired to do this after a trip to Bali, where he stopped at a restaurant that only served whole-roasted pigs. Available while supplies last. There will also be a pinot noir at a bargain $5 per glass. 2030 Union St. at Buchanan, 415-929-8855.

In case you’re inspired to go hit ~HARRIS’ RESTAURANT~ after reading this week’s review, you should know the restaurant is turning 25, and to celebrate they’re offering a Silver Anniversary Menu throughout the month of May. It includes an amuse-bouche of chilled vichyssoise; your choice of a mixed green salad or a Caesar; an intermezzo of lemon sorbet; your choice of filet mignon Rossini, boneless prime New York, or seared ahi tuna; and for dessert, opera cake or key lime pie. The menu is $55, and $85 with wine pairings (you can read the entire menu here—it’s a PDF). 2100 Van Ness at Pacific, 415-673-1888.

~LAIOLA~
is hosting a Sciabica Olive Oil Dinner on Wednesday May 13th. It includes “pintxos” (confitado of artichoke hearts with Sciabica Mission Variety and a quail egg, olive oil-poached tuna conserva with preserved Meyer lemon and Sciabica olives, and olive oil griddlecake with braised pork shoulder and candied olives); roasted hake with asparagus, Sciabica jalapeño oil, ramps, and spring onions; whole-roasted spring lamb with Sciabica’s Mission Variety Spring 2009 Harvest Olive Oil, pea tendrils, spring radishes, and white beans; and olive oil cake with lemon-rosemary ice cream. $75 per person. 2031 Chestnut St. at Fillmore, 415-346-5641.

Wild Game Week returns to the ~BIG 4~ at the Huntington, happening May 12th–16th (it's the 20th annual occurrence). On the menu: piranha, buffalo, antelope, rabbit-rattle snake sausage, Sika deer, Himalayan yak, llama, wapiti, and more. Check out the carnage in the menu here (it’s a PDF). The Huntington Hotel, 1075 California St. at Taylor, 415-771-1140.