27, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO So
just three days after getting home, I shook off my jet lag like
a wet dog and scooted down to Carmel for the ~MASTERS
OF FOOD AND WINE~, which
felt like my preferred version of the Oscars©. The cooking
demos with Rick Tramonto of TRU and Michael Mina were a blast—Mina
recounted a hilarious story about Andre Agassi and steak (remind
me to tell you over a drink sometime) while making a downright
wicked butter poached lobster dish. I got a sneak peek of the kitchen
before the grand finale dinner—Gary Danko was there, plus
a slew of chefs who were ready and waiting to bang out the six-course
feast for over 200 people (four were meat courses, I almost keeled
over). Local winos like Emily Wines of Fifth Floor (love the new
look, lady!), Paul Einbund of Coi, and Chris Wright of Aqua were
on the floor keeping our glasses full (thanks gang!). The after
party was the highlight: I can’t believe I got to shoot the
breeze with Grant Achatz and a couple chaps from his kitchen (we
were on the hunt for bourbon), David Kinch and Cal Stamenov from
Marinus were having a good time, and there were some wickedly memorable
wines being poured at a few scattered tables that night. But I
didn’t get to bed until 4am, so please don’t ask me
to remember what they were, ha ha. Now excuse me while re-hydrate
for the next 48 hours… and here’s hoping I get to
attend the next one in Mendoza! A girl can dream.
of changes while I was gone, so let’s just dive in.
I feel like I am giving birth here, help me breathe! Breathe!
long last, the ~NORTH BEACH LOBSTER SHACK~ is
open, the new SF location of the Old
Port Lobster Shack in Redwood City! Can’t wait to
schlep my heinie in there for a lobster roll. East Coasties, you
can get Ipswich clams! Shacktastic. 532 Green St. at Jasper Place,
near Grant St., 415-829-3634.
And not too far away, ~AVENUE G~ has
opened in the former La Felce space after a series of soft opening
dinners and events. Expect dinner nightly, 6pm-11pm for now,
with the intent of staying open later on the weekends, perhaps
be revealed. 1570 Stockton at Union St., 415-989-0399.
do you say degroovy? Japantown’s petite 27-year-old
diner, Café Mum’s, is now ~MUM’S
RESTAURANT AND BAR~ and has just finished undergoing a spiffy remodel from designer
Anthony Laurino. Mum’s is in the Hotel Miyako, now named
the Hotel Tomo. The family restaurant (dad runs it during the day,
and one of his three daughters helms it at night) is a Japanese-influenced
diner serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and is well known for its
all-you-can-eat shabu-shabu dinners. The cheerful space seats 50
and has room for 12 at the counter; the look has 70’s styling,
like bright poppy coloring, a mosaic pattern at the counter, and
cork flooring, with some Japanese pop aesthetic working its way
into the look as well (wait until you see the 20-inch portraits
of all the family members that will be hung in a couple weeks).
is totally the word. 1800 Sutter St. at Buchanan St., 415-931-6986.
in SOMA has opened. Based on some feedback I’ve been hearing,
spacious, swanky, and happy hour central. Since Daily Candy recently
wrote it up, you know the place must now be swarming with chicks.
No liquor, however, just good vino and beers and bites, yo. Oh,
and sake and soju cocktails—personally, I’ll stick
with the good wines. 216 Townsend St. at 3rd St., 415-896-2120.
Hours Tue-Sun 4pm- 2am (1am on weekdays).
Another wine bar that should be opening up next week is ~ROUGE
ET BLANC~, a joint venture from the Aqua folks and Viansa
in the former Enoteca Viansa in Union Square, just down the street
from Café de la Presse. Laurent Manrique has devised a
casual food program for the space, with croque monsieurs and
other simple fare served from 11am-4pm, and cold dishes like
charcuterie, smoked fish, and cheese plates available from 4pm-10:30pm.
13-14 wines will be available by the glass, including some international
choices, and of course you can expect to see Aqua’s Acvs
label (love the chard). The concept is to be more of an easy
location to stop by and hang out over a glass of wine, and less
about wine education like other places around town. Wines will
also be available for retail purchase. For now, the space is
being repainted and some modern lighting is being put in, nothing
major. Salud. 334 Grant Ave. at Bush St., 415-391-0207.
in the neighborhood, ~CORTEZ~
is temporarily closed while they upgrade some old plumbing. It’s
a significant job that will require some excavation, so they expect
to be closed for about a month or so, until late March. I spoke
with the Bay Bread folks, and they said they are taking the opportunity
to freshen up some elements like the paint and carpet, and Co-Executive
Chefs Seth Bowden and Louis Maldonado also mentioned there will
be some “spring cleaning” on the menu, with the removal
of some signature dishes to make room for some new concoctions.
The chefs also are talking about introducing a daily market prix-fixe
menu, highlighting dishes that may have more of a rustic tone.
While the chefs will be retained, they sadly will have to wait
and see if some of their cooks can return since most have to find
work elsewhere during the closure. The chefs helped their cooks
line up some stages at various restaurants in the City as best
they could, and personally are “looking forward to going
out and meeting some of the farmers and purveyors that [we] have
been dealing with but never met.” Here’s hoping for
a speedy reopening since things were really on a roll over there.
550 Geary St. at Jones St., 415-292-6360.
I was not happy to be cruising up Market Street and see that ~YUM~ was
closed and gone. There was an obscure note in the window about reappearing
in another location. Based on their website, which mentions a “Grand
Re-opening of our online gourmet foods store,” I wonder if
it means they will be moving to strictly online? Once I hear back
from the owners I will let you know.
A couple tablehopper readers were concerned and inquiring about ~SUSHI
ZONE~ closing, when in fact it’s just that Sushi
Zone is now closed on Mondays. You may return to your regularly
a new chef who recently started, Laurent
Yes, he is French. 2500 Washington St. at Fillmore St., 415-359-0075.
holding it down on the corner of 9th and Irving for a while,
the Sunset’s arty ~CANVAS GALLERY~ will
be closing soon. Taking its place will be ~PACIFIC
a casual seafood restaurant that already has locations in the Marina
and Corte Madera. For those unfamiliar with the concept, the burgeoning
chain is known for an array of fresh seafood dishes made to order,
like fish tacos, Hawaiian sandwiches, rice bowls, salads, and the
like. Plans are to open in late summer, offering lunch and dinner
daily, and to be open continuously throughout the day. With the
full bar license, they also plan to stay open late on the weekends,
and to maintain a funky and urban vibe. Also, they are looking
for a VP
of Operations if
anyone is interested!
fusiony ~MALACCA~ on
18th Street in the ‘Stro
has closed and moved into the short-lived ~CRAVE~ space
on Market Street. I heard the two menus are now combined? (Comfort
fusion small plates? If I was a cop, I’d be forced to pull
this one over.) As far as the old Malacca space, it seems the owner
is keeping the building. No phone calls back, so no word what is
potentially moving into the 18th Street space. And the Crave number
is disconnected, so it’s all wacky. Malacca/former Crave,
2367 Market St. at Castro St., number disconnected.
in the Marina, the New City Lounge is now ~SWEET AROMA~,
a casual and well-priced Vietnamese restaurant. The (very sweet)
owner was originally with Cordon Bleu restaurant on California,
so you will find the popular three-item combos on the menu (one
of the tastier deals in town, seriously, and go for the grilled
meats!), plus different kinds of pho, salads, and spring rolls.
Hours: 11am-10:30pm Tue-Sun. 1779 Lombard St. at Laguna St., 415-563-1927.
on Nob Hill are up in arms over the fate of the ~FRONT
ROOM~ and the ~JOHN BARLEYCORN~.
A new landlord, Luisa Hanson, purchased the building at 1500
California Street and is not renewing the leases for either business
(she also owns Luisa’s on Union Street, Notte, and Delaney's
Bar on Chestnut—based on some of the
posts about the restaurant on yelp, people are
ticked). The Front Room was originally opened by Sam Duvall in
1967, with several locations opened elsewhere in the City and the Bay
Area. The current owner, Lori Laghaei, has endured some tough times
the past five years, including the illness and eventual death of
her husband (and former owner of the Front Room) at the age of
32 from brain cancer, and withstanding the financially troublesome
times after 9/11. She is moving the business down the street into
the now-closed ~FIERRO EN
GUERRA~ space (it was a café), at 1550 California
Street. She hopes to reopen April 1st (no joke) in time for the
40th anniversary of the restaurant since the lease ends in March.
Owner Laghaei remarked, “It’s expensive to live in
San Francisco, and here young people could get together for some
pizza and beer and not spend a lot of money. It has always been
a safe place, a fun place—we would only close two nights
a year.” Here’s wishing them luck with their move—fortunately
they are still in the neighborhood.
BARLEYCORN~ was originally an annex of the Front
Room (it was the aptly named The Back Room) and has been around
for more than 35 years. This cozy little pub is chock-full
of SF memorabilia, including pews from Old St. Mary’s,
and is considered by many neighbors as their living room outside
their home. The Barleycorn’s lease expires in June, so they
launched a site that has a petition protesting the closure of both
businesses; you can visit the site and sign the
Best of luck to them; it’s hard on a neighborhood when a
long-standing (and beloved) business closes.
Chef David Cohen is no longer at ~SCALA’S
BISTRO~. Which means the tally of Kimpton restaurants
without executive chefs (and some are also without GMs) is growing:
Grand Café, Fifth Floor, and now Scala’s.
I’ll keep you posted as the positions get filled. There have
been some murmurs of bigger names potentially coming into Fifth
Floor, it could be exciting.
is a new sous chef at Nob Hill’s ~RUE
ST. JACQUES~, Cedric Lazarus,
and supposedly he makes one heck of a choucroute (he hails from
the Alsace/Lorraine region, hence the skills with the sauerkraut).
This Wednesday, the restaurant will be hosting Choucroute Night,
with choucroute loaded with sausage, pork shank, slab bacon,
and other treats and a beer for $25. Perfect lousy weather for
it. 1098 Jackson St. at Taylor St., 415-776-2002.
shakedown at ~BACAR~:
sadly Arnold Alan Wong (who just sold his other restaurant, EOS)
and Debbie Zachareas are no longer involved with the project
after launching it six years ago. (The website is already stripped
of any mention of the former partners.) Adam Timney, Chef de
Cuisine, will be holding down the fort. Here are the letters
I received from Debbie Zachareas and Arnold Eric Wong:
After six rewarding years as co-founder, General Partner,
and Wine Director of Bacar Restaurant, I have departed as partner
and manager of the restaurant. This shift enables me to focus my
energy and expertise at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant and our upcoming
retail venture, the Oxbow Wine Merchant in Napa.
These are exciting times for both corporations. I wish bacar continued
success as one of the great San Francisco restaurants. I look forward
to working more closely with my partners at the Ferry Plaza Wine
Merchant in conceptualizing and growing our present and future
wine retail, e-commerce and wine bar ventures.
Whilst there is some divergence of views vis a vis the way forward
for bacar with the new management, I maintain faith in the abilities
of the staff and personnel.
Dear Investor and Friends,
As co-founder, General Partner, and Executive Chef of Bacar restaurant since
its inception, the new majority owner and I have decided to part ways.
In the past couple of weeks as the new majority owner has stepped in, I've
had to struggle with the moral, ethical and professional dilemmas associated
with Bacar's ongoing enterprise. I tried to come to a compromise that would
uphold my personal and professional integrity while working with the new general
partners. As difficult as it is, my decision is to separate from Bacar. I will
continue to focus my energies on my bakery Raison d'etre, travel with my beautiful
wife, and dedicate time toward future ventures.
In the last six years, talented and amazing people have come and gone, many
still remain. I will be leaving behind a vision that was built upon strong
relationships, commitments, sacrifice, and dedication from the staff and the
many investors. I want to personally thank the staff, both front and back of
the house, that have been so loyal and dedicated to my passion. I trust that
they will succeed at Bacar and in their own future endeavors.
Arnold Eric Wong
Okay, who the hell stole the ~MALTESE FALCON~ replica
from John’s Grill? Come on now, people, put the bird back.
Plus there are some vintage books missing as well, so if you meet
someone who is showing off a signed copy of The Maltese Falcon,
I’d arch my eyebrow and call the police: there’s a
$25,000 reward. Serious fowl play. (Sorry, that one practically
pecked me, I had to use it.)
wanted to share my dismay in finding out ~SHARON
TYLER HERBST~ passed away
while I was gone. I can’t imagine my job without the Food
Lover’s Companion. I hope she rests in peace,
and I know there are many food writers who are grateful for all
her hard work over the years.
After a successful Dine About Town month in January, ~SCOTT
HOWARD RESTAURANT~ has launched a three-course prix-fixe menu option for $32 that
is available nightly, in addition to the restaurant’s regular
a la carte menu. The three-course menu selections will rotate
regularly and will often feature signature dishes. 500 Jackson
Street between Columbus and Montgomery, 415-956-7040.
been getting all kinds of buzz for their perfect pizzas, and
as of last Thursday, they have kicked off dinner service. From
Thursday through Saturday the pint-sized pizzeria will be open from 7am straight through the day,
with their last seating at 8:30pm. Dinner starts around 5pm,
offering an expanded dinner menu that will include a variety
of roasted meats, birds, and other savory options. Hours: 7am-3pm
Mon-Wed, 7am-8:30pm Thu-Sat, 8am-1pm Sun. 801 22nd St., 415-824-4224.
I am tired—that baby was huge. Coming next week: news
on Urban Steak & Bar and JoVino!
a hot tip? You know I’d love it (and you). Just reply to