June 23, 2009

(Photo: Eggs in a cazuela from brunch at Olea.)

This book is putting me into overdrive, packing my calendar full of restaurant revisits and fab tastes around town (I will admit, I love what is "research" for me right now), including the divine hummus and baked-to-order pita at Terzo, a totally authentic Thai feast at Lers Ros in the Tenderloin, ridiculously decadent A5 Wagyu beef at 5A5 Steak Lounge, properly made mint juleps at The Alembic, a warm banh mi from Irving Café and Deli, a cozy brunch at Olea, and a balmy Sunday night dinner of cebiche, causas, and anticuchos de corazon on the back patio at La Mar. I am just itching to write so many of these meals up—but darn, it'll be another four weeks.

The most memorable happening of last week was the closing dinner at Postrio on Wednesday night. I swung by with a friend after our Thai feast to have some dessert and a drink and watch the final night wrap up. The dining room was a swirl of activity and color and flash—society ladies in brightly colored dresses, gents spiffed up with polished teeth and shoes, tables full of wine glasses and temporary tablehopping guests. Denise Hale was tucked into a power booth with Tatiana and Serge Sorokko, all looking so chic and smiling even more broadly as the night (and wine) wore on.

It was quite the who's who of chefs, either in the kitchen (Mitchell and Steven Rosenthal, Craig Stoll, Richard Reddington, Quinn Hatfield, who flew up from Los Angeles, David Gingrass, Anne Gingrass-Paik, Jordan Grosser, and Janet Rikala), to Kim Beto pouring wine and working the floor, plus chefs dining, from Roland Passot to Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani, to chefs hanging out in the kitchen after service in their own restaurants, like Jan Birnbaum and Chad Newton. Say what you will about Postrio; what is irrefutable is so much local talent has come from its kitchen. Everyone was raving about the food, doubly delicious since the restaurant had kindly chosen to roll back to 1989 prices (so classy, I thought).

And, of course, the ever-ebullient Wolfgang Puck was making his way around the room, kindly greeting everyone, shaking hands, and signing last-meal menus. There was so much warmth in the room—it made me reflect on what a close-knit city we really have. Here's a Flickr photo album I took of the evening.

It truly was a bittersweet night; I spoke with Mitch Rosenthal for a moment, who said, "20 years, man. It's been such a night of good memories, and a fun one too, but it's also really, really sad. So many people are losing their jobs, people who have been here a long, long time." (Here's hoping they all land in good places—chef Seis Kamimura is very talented, and the restaurant that snaps up the ever-gracious GM James Minch is one lucky business.)

I have to hand it to Willie Brown, who was beaming like a proud papa (with a huge table of guests, natch). He led such a fitting and fantastic toast, with one of my favorite lines I've heard in a while: "Here's to Postrio, a San Francisco icon, like the Golden Gate Bridge, the Pyramid, and me!" (The room exploded in laughter.) I also took a video of Wolfgang Puck's final toast if you'd like to watch it (please excuse a couple bad orientation moments, I forgot my screen and the video have zero relation to each other, oops—I blame the wine).

So, as for the immediate fate of the restaurant, the bar and café will continue to be open from morning through the evening hours, keeping the pizza oven fired up, churning out Puck's famed pizzas. Once the Prescott Hotel's renovation is underway, the café will close. We'll see what Puck's new concept is soon enough. It's slated to reopen in late 2010.

A sincere cheers to 20 very special years.

As for this week's issue, a big thanks to Evan Goldstein, who wrote an interesting piece on non-native/"expatriate" grapes for the wino. You'll also find plenty of other reasons to raise a glass in this week's lush.

Here's looking at you, kid.