November 10, 2009

Some details have finally been released about the ~CREDO~ project due to open in the Financial District at the end of December/beginning of the New Year. Owner Clint Reilly is opening what they're calling an urban trattoria in an old Chinese bank. The name comes from the Italian and Latin phrase "I believe," which will be transformed into a design element in the space: large panels on the walls will feature quotes from famous people ranging (including John F. Kennedy and Howard Stern), who have all said sentences that begin with "I believe." There will be 79 seats, with a spacious private dining room below with room for 50, and an upstairs bar with eight seats. The design is modern, with treated cement floors, and special tables handmade from scrap wood by Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek. Richardson Architects of Mill Valley is behind the design.

Chef Mario Maggi, who hails from Florence but trained in Milan, has worked in 31 restaurants around the world, and this will be his first opening in San Francisco. His menu of rustic Italian fare will include a grilled Caesar salad and baked pastas, including a dish called sedanini al credo, a type of pasta that he bakes covered with a lid of pizza dough, almost like an Italian pot pie. And reportedly the Emperor of Japan is crazy for Maggi's tiramisu. Lunch and dinner will be served Mon–Fri, and dinner on Saturdays. 360 Pine St. at Montgomery.

Things are also in motion for the ~25 LUSK~ project (it's near Ritch Street in SoMa) that has been in a holding pattern for some time. Details are slim, but Chad Bourdon (formerly of Farallon) and executive chef Matthew Dolan (New York's Café des Artistes, Emeril's in New Orleans, and Garibaldi's in SF) are the managing partners on the project. The vague details I have about the dining style are these: it will be "sophisticated, contemporary, approachable fine dining." The opening timeframe is approximately early summer 2010, and construction is expected to begin soon. 25 Lusk St. at Townsend.

Opening today, ~URBAN PICNIC~ is the new concept launching in the former Chill dessert cafe in the Financial District. Owner Trang Nguyen hired Poleng Lounge's Tim Luym to develop a new menu of healthy and ethnically inspired salads, sandwiches, and soups, ranging from turkey with honey guacamole on a baguette, to a house salad with additions like lemongrass chicken, to a chicken coconut lime soup. Grab-and-go selections will be coming soon. The location's original dessert concept means there will be desserts and beverages as well, including all natural–frozen yogurt, frozen custard, gelato, and coffee. Open Mon–Fri 10:30am–4:30pm. 125 Kearny St. at Post, 415-413-1233.


Let's look at some meals on deals...


Want a delicious and homey three-course dinner for $25? ~IL CANE ROSSO~ has decided to extend their Sunday Supper $25 dinner to every night, serving it from 5:30pm–9pm. Check out their site for menu details, but last night's included kale and apple salad with pecorino ginepro, toasted hazelnuts, and thyme vinaigrette; Marin Sun Farms brisket with horseradish aioli; soft polenta with Pt. Reyes blue cheese; and snickerdoodle cookies with Straus Dairy vanilla soft serve. Yeah, awesome. One Ferry Building, # 41, 415-391-7599.

~ZARÉ AT FLY TRAP~ is now offering a half-pound beef burger with pickled sumac onions and one drink (anything from their well, draft beer, or wine) for only $15. This promotion is available Monday through Saturday after 8:30pm at the bar. 606 Folsom St. at 2nd St., 415-243-0580.


Looking for something to do?




Boy, do I have a lineup of events for you. First, a friendly reminder that this Wednesday November 11th is ~FOOD FOR THOUGHT~, a fundraising night for the Mission Graduates nonprofit organization. Dine out at select Mission District restaurants like Bar Bambino, Farina, Range, Regalito, Slow Club, and Front Porch, and they will generously donate a portion of their sales that evening to help pave the way to college for K–12 students in the Mission District. Click here for a list of participating restaurants and make your reservation.

Saturday the 14th is the next ~YBCA BIG IDEA NIGHT~, which is fantastically free to the public. This one's theme is "State of the Queer Nation/Bridging the Gap," focusing on cultural distance and how to close gaps of misunderstandings between people. There will be a "Soapbox Social" from 7pm–9pm with queer luminaries each delivering a five-minute State of the Union address (including the inimitable Anna Conda), followed by cocktails and conversation. Seats are limited, so please RSVP at ybcafree.org. At 9pm, the party kicks off with performance art, DJs, and the Diamond Daggers, a fabulous queer burlesque troupe. Orson/Citizen Cake's Elizabeth Falkner and partner/co-owner, Sabrina Riddle have graciously donated "Edible Indulgences" (made of Scharffen Berger chocolate with chili pepper and pop rocks) to be given out by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at the party for a suggested donation of $3 or more (proceeds go to YBCA and Tenderloin Tessie's Holiday Dinner). There will also be warm pork buns with kimchee ($5), cold noodle salad with mushrooms, herbs, and peanut vinaigrette ($5), and cupcakes and whoopie pies ($3). RSVP at www.YBCAFREE.org for guaranteed admittance. 7pm–2am. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Grand Lobby and Galleries, 701 Mission St., 415-978-2787.

Well, lame Daylight Savings Time is in full effect, and the weather is cooler, so we might as well celebrate what's great about autumn. On Sunday November 15th, ~PICCINO~ is hosting an Autumn Festival, serving a variety of special Far West Fungi mushroom dishes, roasting chestnuts, and grilling butterflied quails on their outdoor grilling box, plus pizzas, salads, and desserts will also be available. Ian Garrone of Far West Fungi will be setting up a mini outdoor mushroom booth, where you'll have the opportunity to purchase and take home a variety of fresh, wild, and cultivated mushrooms (chanterelle, porcini, cauliflower, black trumpet, shiitake, king trumpet, and, yes, truffle) as well as dried mushrooms and truffle salt, all at 10–15% off. 12pm–5pm. 801 22nd St. at Tennessee, 415-824-4224.

Feeling saucy? Sunday the 15th is also ~THE BOSS OF THE SAUCE~ competition, with 20 local restaurants competing over who makes the best tomato sauce. There will be food vendors, like Caffé Bao Necci Pizzeria, Caesar's Italian Restaurant, Palio d'Asti, Sicilianaire, and Guerra Quality Meats, plus wines from Dalla Terra, Jacuzzi Winery, Imagery Estate Winery, and Elizabeth Spencer Wines. Cent'Anni Cocktails will be premiering a special "Fall Apple Crisp" cocktail for the event, and Moretti will be pouring their Italian brew. For an opportunity to judge, tasters must be one of the first 100 people to volunteer upon arrival. Tickets for $20 are available here and at the door. Doors at noon; event from 1pm–5pm. Sts. Peter and Paul Church Event Center, 666 Filbert St. at Stockton.

Next Friday November 20th, ~THE WILD KITCHEN~, with special guest Boris Portnoy, is throwing a Spanish-inspired (but locally sourced) foraged food feast at SoCha Cafe in the Mission. The seven-course menu includes Mendocino porcini toasts with local sea salt, hen of the woods mushroom soup with Cowgirl crème fraîche, acorn bread with honey-infused raw milk, saffron-scented paella of wild foraged mussels and Boccalone sausage, feta cake of Mendocino ocean water with Berkeley foraged persimmons, black olive and foraged black walnut financier, and wild Mendocino huckleberry tapioca and wild rosemary chocolate mousse. Tickets are $50. There will be a $10 corkage fee for wine, as well as beer and wine available for purchase, which will go to SoCha. Space is very limited. If you have something you'd like to trade for dinner, they are up to hear it (like the use of a truck for Sat–Mon, or if you have restaurant experience and can help out). 7pm–9pm. SoCha Cafe, 3235 Mission St. at Valencia.



And now for some East Bay news: when Terrain, a hotly anticipated restaurant in Berkeley, learned that a little café in a garden center on the other side of the country trademarked the name, they decided to change their name to ~GATHER~. Expected to open for dinner on December 15th (with lunch to follow in January and full breakfast in February), there is a patio, rustic bar, and a casual café/to-go section in the East Bay's greenest of green buildings: the David Brower Center (it's right across from the University). The team includes Ari Derfel and Eric Fenster (Back to Earth Organic Catering), and brand-new GM Alex Desquiron (recently of Corso). Chef Sean Baker (formerly the sous at Millennium and the executive chef at Gabriela's in Santa Cruz) plans to offer fairly priced, "seasonal farm food" dishes, with humanely raised animals and sustainably caught seafood. Dishes include cinnamon braised–Sonoma lamb with chicory, apples and yogurt, and house-made salumi on a sausage pizza with torpedo onion and oregano. Half of the dishes will be vegetarian (like vegan chickpea-dusted cardoons with romesco and grilled scallion salsa). Christie Dufault of Gary Danko and Quince fame is crafting an all-California, entirely sustainable wine list, and the spirits will also be organic. The utilitarian chic design from Nicole Sillapere (SillaPere Design Lab) will emphasize reclaimed woods, artfully crafted metals, and local ceramic tile. 2200 Oxford St. at Allston, Berkeley, 510-859-9180.

Also in Berkeley, the 28-seat ~eVe RESTAURANT~ (site under construction) will open in mid to late November from the husband-and-wife chef team of executive chef Christopher Laramie (Blue Door in the Delano Hotel in Miami Beach, Everest in Chicago) and pastry chef Veronica Laramie (Charlie Trotter's)—they have moved to the Bay Area from Colorado. The seasonal menu will feature New American cuisine in a prix-fixe only format for $33, with choices of starters, main courses, and desserts. (Additional courses are available: five for $55, and seven for $77.) Examples of main dishes include quail with pancetta, chestnuts and star anise; seared black cod with miso, carrots and almonds; and cappelletti with pumpkin seeds, spaghetti squash, and blood orange. The wine list, compiled with help from Alex Bachman (Charlie Trotter's, Carmel Valley Ranch) will consist mostly of California vintages. 1960 University Ave. at Milvia.