October 9, 2007

I have been waiting on this one for months, and now I can talk about it! In the historic 1250 Jones building, ~LE CLUB~ returns to its roost—it was most recently C&L Steakhouse, and before that, Charles Nob Hill. Gina Milano (Bambuddha) and movie producer Todd Traina are opening this reservations-only restaurant and lounge, priming it as a discreet and glam locale inspired by a classic British members club, where guests can dine, drink, and even play games—board games, that is. Or cards. Or chess, whatever your pleasure. There is a green onyx bar, light blue onyx tabletops, and custom furnishings. Here’s a swank detail: both valet and town car service will be offered. The menu is described as seasonal continental cuisine, with dishes like fondue and caviar, available until 1am, and both classic and original cocktails will on the drink menu. You know this place is going to become holiday party central. Look for an early November opening. 1250 Jones St. at Clay, 415-922-2582.

I know the lower Nob Hill neighborhood has been mourning the impending closure of the John Barleycorn, and then sweet Ahmed closed the ~RED DOOR CAFÉ~ last weekend (he will eternally have a spot in my heart for telling me I laugh like a sailor). Moving into its place is ~OLÈA~, a casual space serving Cal-Med eats for lunch and dinner, and weekend brunch. The name comes from the scientific name for the olive tree (and for the record, it’s not related to the Portland restaurant with the same name, or Olean, or Olestra, ha ha). The restaurant is slated to open October 23, and the chef/owner is Gabriel Amaya from Guadalajara, working with his business partner, Glen Bolosan, who will be handling the front of house.

Moving into the Bistro 1689 space will be ~CLAY OVEN INDIAN CUISINE~, the fifth location of the India Clay Oven family of restaurants. The menu is northern Indian/Punjabi style. The soft opening is slated for the 17th, and the grand opening party will be on the 27th, with drinks and dhol, Indian-style drumming (not to be confused with daal, dearie). There’s room for 50, and there will soon be a spacious upstairs area with room for 40, and a back patio with seating in the next month or so. 1689 Church St. at 29th, 415-826-2400.

The restaurant Vignette in the Orchard Hotel is now ~DAFFODIL~. Executive chef Russell Rummer of Roots Restaurant in the Orchard Garden Hotel, a sister hotel, is now the executive chef of both restaurants. Daffodil’s concept will be a contemporary Euro small plates menu highlighting local ingredients, designed to pair with wines from around the world. Open for dinner Mon–Sun 5pm–10pm. 665 Bush St. at Powell, 415-956-2972.

Some mystery developments along the Valencia corridor: I’ve heard word of a new Afghani or Iranian food venture, ~ZAYTOON~ (?), that will open in the old Bistro Annex space. Anyone have more deets? Drop me a line! 1136 Valencia St. at 23rd.

Also heard word that a café will open in the old ~ADS HATS~ location at 758 Valencia at 19th Street. Anyone know what’s the word?

~HORIZON RESTAURANT & LOUNGE~, the new place I mentioned a few months ago that was moving into the Sake Lab space, is plugging along for an opening at the end of the month (October 27 for now). The menu is based on classic American comfort food favorites, including “have it your way” burgers (you can choose from eight kinds of meat—since Ola Fendert is the chef consultant, I expect the burger to be delish), plus some dishes like braised short ribs, pappardelle, sea bass with chorizo, and natch, some charcuterie. Executive Chef Ivan Tam, formerly of Pres a Vi, will be overseeing the kitchen. Cocktails in effect, and Mark Bright has picked out the wines. There is a lounge with leather couches and low tables, and a dining area, all with a modern look and vibe. Dinner nightly 5pm–2am. (Yes, late night eats in North Beach besides Golden Boy and pasta.) 498 Broadway St. at Kearny, 415-576-1118.

Okay, this made me laugh. So we have Horizons opening up, and just down the street, ~ZEBRA LOUNGE~ at 447 Broadway is now ~CLUB LATITUDE~. Discuss.

One of my fave local pastry chefs, the talented ~CHONA PIUMARTA~, is leaving LarkCreekSteak and is off to be the executive pastry chef at Slanted Door. Congrats! Her last day at LCS is October 17.

More wharf watch for you: Chic’s Seafood Restaurant (looooooved that name) on Pier 39 is now ~FOG HARBOR FISH HOUSE~, offering diners a “quintessential San Francisco waterfront seafood dining experience.” (Does this include snapping rogue seals?) The restaurant comes from the original developers of Pier 39, the SIMCO Restaurant Group. In addition to the views, there is a fireplace, waterfall, full bar, live lobster tank, and a menu with classics like cioppino, chowder, and sourdough bread, plus hand-filleted fresh fish. One thing: beware the sappy piano music on the website—consider yourself warned. Open daily 11am–11pm. 4 Restaurants on Pier 39, 415-421-2442.

The ~INTERCONTINENTAL MARK HOPKINS SAN FRANCISCO~ has a new executive chef, Christophe Depuischaffray (and I thought my last name was challenging). According to the press release, he’s “a seasoned veteran with over 23 years in the hospitality industry… [and is] a native of France [who] started his culinary career in Corsica, France and has worked in hotels spanning the world, including Europe, Egypt, Asia, and the Americas. Prior to joining the InterContinental Mark Hopkins, Christophe was at the Hotel InterContinental Madrid in Spain where he was Executive Chef for over three years.” 999 California St.

Bread alert: ~BOULANGE DE HAYES~ finally opens tomorrow. 7am. Be there. Or be sleeping in bed. 500 Hayes St. at Octavia, 415-863-3376.

Since we’re on carb patrol, over in the Castro, moving into the former Philz space on 18th Street and what then became the short-lived “Bean Here, Brew That” café (short sidebar: why do so many cafes and Laundromats use puns for their names? What is up with that?) there is going to be a bread shop called ~URBAN BREAD~. More details on that when the owner gets back to me. 3901 18th St. at Sanchez.

Joining the ranks of brunch spots on Upper Polk, ~BAR JOHNNY~, formerly Tablespoon, is now serving weekend brunch. The “brunch bite” dishes include an onion frittata ($6), a French toast sandwich with goat cheese and fig ($7), and a variety of salads ($7). Of course there’s a burger ($9) and some recovery cocktails. Brunch is served Sundays 11am–3pm, and will start on Saturdays on October 20. 2209 Polk St. at Vallejo, 415-268-0140.

In the lower Haight, ~BAGHDAD NIGHTS~ has opened—I’ve heard a couple good reports, and there is the option of belly dancers during dinner parties if you request them in advance. Hips don’t lie. Dinner nightly, lunch starts November 1. 682 Haight St. at Pierce, 415-861-6111.

Today, the new location of ~SULTAN~ opened at 11:30am for a lunch buffet! Dinner will be starting mid next week. Looking forward to eating their food again. 340 O'Farrell St. at Mason, 415-775-1709.

And now, your Afghani restaurant roundup!

~HELMAND PALACE~ has opened in its new digs on Van Ness, and the $10 lunch buffet (Tue–Fri) is back in effect. I know some of you were missing the pumpkin dish, just in time for Halloween. 2424 Van Ness Ave. at Green, 415-362-0641.

Taking over the much-adored Mediterranean Spirit space is ~DE AFGHANAN KABOB HOUSE~. Open 11am–10pm Mon–Fri, and on the weekend until 11pm. 1303 Polk St. at Bush, 415-345-9947.

Upcoming openings and updates:


In case you were wondering what is up with ~SANGHA~—the Japanese fusion restaurant slated to open at 678 Chenery at Diamond—there were some snags with permits, the custom furnishings, the usual. Look for an opening at the end of the year. Meanwhile, Ric Lopez’s other property, ~P’TIT LAURENT~, seems to be plugging along and pleasing the neighborhood—a tablehopper reader told me about a killer early bird prix-fixe deal that rotates each week: for $19.95 you get three courses, Mon–Thu 5:30pm–7pm. 699 Chenery St. at Diamond, 415-334-3235.

~FISH AND FARM~ is now slated to open next week, not this week. Stand by.

If all goes well, ~FRISEE~, the new healthy joint I mentioned in the Castro is slated to open on the 15th or 16th.

Hey, boozehounds, last call on signing up for the groovy mixology class at ~CANTINA~ in conjunction with La Cocina. Ends up I was given the wrong date: the class is next Monday, the 15th, at Cantina from 6pm–8:30pm. Duggan McDonnell (aka Shotzi) will be walking an intimate group through proper cocktail crafting, and some La Cocina businesses will provide some delish eats. $125 per person. RSVP to caleb [at] lacocinasf [dot] org. Space is limited to 20 people. All proceeds go to the programs at La Cocina and a portion of the cost can be considered a tax-deductible donation.