November 17, 2009

Plenty of openings this week: ~PINKIE'S BAKERY~, a wholesale operation from Cheryl Burr (formerly the pastry chef at EOS and bacar) as of yesterday has a new retail storefront, right next to Pizza Nostra at the base of Potrero Hill. On the menu: danishes, muffins, pecan sticky buns, cookies (I can vouch for how delicious these are), cupcakes, cakes, cream pies, and fresh-baked artisan breads. Her “roommate” in the operation is ~BENTO 415~ from Chris Beerman, who offers a variety of bento boxes named and inspired by various San Francisco neighborhoods (the Haight, North Beach, etc.), a total of four each day (perfect for a grab-and-go lunch made with organic ingredients). I also hear a breakfast biscuit is in the works (with sausage from 4505 Meats, stand by!). Starting next week, Blue Bottle drip coffee will also be available. Hours are Mon–Fri 6:30am–3pm (since it’s opening week, hours and offerings are subject to change, FYI). 300 De Haro St. at 16th St., 415-355-1619. And opening today is ~LA BOULANGE DE NOE~ in the former Noe Valley Pizzeria space. And you can’t miss it: the corner location is not blue or green, it is a bright “French lavender.” Or as I’d call it, power periwinkle. Same menu as the other Boulanges, and they also have beer and wine, with outdoor seating on both 24th Street and Sanchez. Open daily from 7am–7pm. 3898 24th St. at Sanchez, 415-821-1050.

Over in the Marina, ~TACOLICIOUS~ will be taking over Laïola for T-Lish Tuesdays every Tuesday from now until the end of the year, from 5pm to close. You can check out the menu here (it’s a PDF). T-Lish Tuesdays will bring six kinds of tacos (three for $10, including fried fish), plus salads, ceviche, pozole, and cocktails! And then there’s this kick-ass special: a shot of Don Julio Reposado, a can of Tecate, and the taco del dia for only $10. 2031 Chestnut St. at Fillmore, 415-346-5641.

Set to open tomorrow is ~STONE KOREAN KITCHEN~ in Embarcadero Four, in the old Oishii Sushi space. Three best friends have come together to offer a menu featuring Korean dishes from their families. They are starting with a limited menu, which will expand over the coming weeks. You’ll be able to check it out for lunch during the week and happy hour (Thu–Fri), with dinner launching after Thanksgiving. Gi Paoletti Design Lab designed the 75-seat space, and there’s also a patio that will be developed and quite nice in less-chilly weather. 4 Embarcadero Center, Street Level, 415-839-4070.

Right on schedule, ~NOMBE RESTAURANT~, the new izakaya from Gil Payne and Mari Takahashi (formerly of the now-closed Sozai Restaurant) and chef Nicolaus Balla (most recently of O Izakaya and Lounge) is opening this Friday November 20th. The izakaya will be opening in the former Tacos Santana Bar & Grill space. How organized, the website is already up with the menu; I am very happy to see Balla’s pork belly on there, with not one but two different executions, plus quite the selection of yakimono (grilled) items. There will be 80 seats, and over 75 brands of sake, plus shochu cocktails, and eight Japanese and local beers on tap. Look for a window with Japanese street food offerings on the weekends that will start at 11pm (keep track on their Twitter feed). Sun–Thu 6pm–11pm, Fri–Sat 11am–2am. 2491 Mission St. at 21st St., 415-681-7150.

Another opening slated for this Friday the 20th is ~REPUBLIC~, the project in the Marina in the former Jones space. I got a peek at a few brunch dishes: how about Republic chorizo and egg sliders on house-made English muffins with Bellwether crescenza cheese, scallion, and cherry pepper preserves, or a Liberty Farms corned duck hash? Sounds good to me. 2401 Lombard St. at Scott, 415-817-1337.

Over in SoMa, ~OZONE THAI~ is now open in the Jack Falstaff space. Ozone is open for lunch Mon–Fri, dinner nightly until 11pm, and offering late-night bites in the bar after 10pm Thu–Sat. There is a happy hour from 3pm–6pm, and then again from 10pm–1:30am Thu–Sat, with $4 apps and drinks. Delivery to the neighborhood is sporadic, so call and see. 598 Second St. at Brannan, 415-536-3266.

Also heard ~BOSSA NOVA~ is now serving lunch Mon–Fri from 11am–2:30pm. The recession-friendly dishes cost $8.50–$9.50, including coconut laced Rio-style moqueca (fish stew) and feijoada (slow-braised pork and black beans), plus sandwiches and a hamburger. Since I am always on a perfect Cubano quest, the Bossa Nova pork sandwich definitely caught my eye: it features a 12-hour slow-roasted pork, seasoned with Brazilian spices, sliced, and paired with Manchego cheese, thin-sliced ham, slivers of cornichons, and a fiery Dijon mustard. Sign me up. 139 8th St. at Minna, 415-558-8008.

There’s much bigger news brewing in SoMa, however: I knew chef-owner David Gingrass was planning to close his restaurant ~TWO~ at the end of this month or early December, but Eater broke the news that this Friday will actually be the last day of dinner service. (TWO will continue to host private holiday parties in December.) Gingrass is going to think about what his next venture will be–whatever it is, he said he was ready for something new. Best of luck to him—that location was part of many diners’ memories, 15 years’ worth.

As for who is taking over the space, I finally got a chance to connect with Corey Lee, who has worked with Thomas Keller for the past eight years (both at The French Laundry–where he was the head chef during the latter half of his time with Keller–and for a year opening per se in New York City). He will be opening ~benu~ in the spring of 2010, perhaps May or June. Lee will be completely gutting the space and starting from scratch, so the dining room will be an entirely new layout and experience. There will be two menus available: a set tasting menu designed to last two to two and a half hours, and an à la carte menu, where guests are at liberty to order as much or as little as they’d like. There will be some fine dining elements (with very polished service, natch), but it will also feel like an urban setting. I asked Lee what we’re going to see stylistically from him, and he said his cooking style will certainly have classical roots and feature quality ingredients, but there will also be modern touches, with some global influences as well. I know, we are all so damned excited, right? I’ll certainly keep you posted about his team, timing, and more in the New Year. 22 Hawthorne Lane at Howard.

I was thrilled to hear the sweet chef, Kamar U. Barbhuyan, and his wife, Nimmie, who used to be at my favorite Indian place, Little Delhi, have found a new location! They will be opening ~LOUCKNOW BIRYANI HOUSE~ in the Tasty Curry location in the Inner Sunset. Kamar has been traveling all over India (including Jaipur and Delhi), and is excited to unleash some new dishes on us. Look for an opening in December. 1375 9th Ave. at Judah.

A third THE PLANT Cafe Organic, ~THE PLANT downtown~, will be opening in the next few weeks (either the end of November or first week of December) at 101 California, in the old Palapas Mexican joint. Hours will be Monday to Friday for light breakfasts and full lunches (and catering). It will have a similar menu to the Marina location, such as create-your-own salads, fresh juices, smoothies, grain bowls, sandwiches, the plant burger, all-organic house-made baked goods, Blue Bottle coffee, etc. They’ll also be adding rotisserie chicken to this location, a more-extensive grab and go selection, and some new items such as a fish sandwich and a breakfast burrito. Every ingredient is 100% organic, almost exclusively locally sourced, only sustainable seafood is served, and poultry is free range and organic. Cass Calder Smith also designed this location, so you’ll see similarities to other PLANT locations with the hickory slatted ceiling, tables, and many of the same fixtures are used. 101 California St. (at the corner of Front and Pine).

~MARIN FARMERS MARKET AND LIFE INGREDIENTS~ have joined together to offer educational tours and cooking classes for those experiencing cancer (and for their caregivers). To celebrate Thanksgiving, this weekend on Sunday the 22nd, their weekend market tours will be offered to anyone wishing to learn more about market agriculture, nutrition, and recipe ideas. The market tour will be located at the Stonestown Galleria location and the tours will start at 10am. Please RSVP at anais [at] essenceofeating.com so they know you are coming.



tablehopper intern Daisy Chow went to ~SUGAR RUSH~ last week in my stead since I was stuck home editing, and here’s her excellent recap of the event (sorry for inducing any afternoon cravings for sweets): “At 111 Minna Gallery last Thursday, top Bay Area dessert-makers plied the crowd with a surfeit of sweet treats as part of Sugar Rush, a fundraiser for non-profit Spark. Participants included Chez Panisse, Range, Millennium, Boulevard, Michael Mina, Humphry Slocombe, Sibby’s Cupcakery, Spruce, Recchiuti Confections, and Gastronaut Catering.

“My favorite of the night was Boulevard’s hazelnut semifreddo and chocolate cake (pictured), topped with a boule of Campari foam and garnished with burnt orange caramel, chocolate streusel, candied hazelnuts, and a honey tuile—well-executed and elegant.

“Nostalgia-inspired desserts were crowd favorites: Range’s ultra-smooth butterscotch pudding served with vanilla bean whipped cream, bits of crunchy toffee, and a tiny vanilla wafer; Humphry Slocombe’s ice cream sandwiches in pepper-mint, peanut butter curry, and oolong gingersnap; and cupcakes in classic flavors from Sibby’s Cupcakery all garnered praise.

“Other venerable Bay Area restaurants provided equally delectable bites. Michael Mina’s Bill Corbett plated butternut squash with coconut curry ice cream and red pepper caramel sauce. Chez Panisse’s chocolate-dipped pizzelle cookie cones were filled to the top with chocolate pastry cream and candied cranberries. Adam Becker of Spruce highlighted velvety textures in his hazelnut mousse on dark chocolate feuilletine and milk chocolate-passionfruit crémeux on dacquoise cake.

“For chocolate lovers, Recchiuti Confections brought their signature flavors with burnt sugar ganache, s’mores, and fleur de sel caramels. Millennium presented a decadent vegan treat of pumpkin cream with spiced white chocolate mousse and cocoa nib tuile in cups made of Michel Cluizel single-plantation chocolate.

“In a break from the sugar rush, newcomer Gastronaut Catering offered one of the only savory-leaning bites of the night: blue cheese and caramelized onion crisps with fall fruit compote.” For a photo album of the event, click here. (Photo by Daisy Chow.)