24, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO I
know some of you out there love hot Cubanos as much as I do. (The
sandwich, silly.) Well, you downtown workers are officially stoked
because the former Banana Hut on Kearny is now ~PALADAR
CAFÉ CUBANO~, a project from Rita Abraldes,
the co-founder of Charanga in the Mission, and Vicky Khan,
who worked there as well. Paladar takes its name from paladares,
which in Cuba are small family-run restaurants that serve home-style
Cuban cooking. This place offers a nice twist, using organic,
local, and sustainable ingredients whenever possible. Paladar
just opened last Monday and is serving what sounds like an
awesome lunch, with five kinds of bocadillos (sandwiches) including
the afore-mentioned Cubano ($8.75), made with Niman Ranch roast
pork and ham. There is also picadillo Cubano estilo Elena ($10.50),
which is Niman Ranch ground beef seasoned with aromatic sofrito,
and served with white rice and sweet plantains; and sancocho
Colombiano ($11) a beef rib and chicken stew with corn, potatoes,
yuca, plantains, and spicy ahogado sauce. ¿Tienes hambre? Just don’t get your heart set
on dinner because they are only open for lunch Mon–Fri 11am–3pm.
329 Kearny St. at Bush, 415-398-4899.
I did get some work done last week! I actually got to hear this
tasty tidbit after a big walk-around spirits tasting at Tales.
BRASSERIE & BAR~ approaches its
tenth anniversary (no easy feat in this town), some changes continue.
Not only is new executive chef Jamie Lauren up and rocking her
new menu, but GM Jeff Hollinger and bar manager Jonny Raglin
are going to be opening up a new bar with Absinthe’s
owner, Bill Russell-Shapiro. (Hollinger and Raglin have been
talking with Russell-Shapiro about the idea for the past year
or so.) The bar will be more of an affiliation than an extension
of Absinthe; it will be a different vibe and concept, but still
a place that will celebrate classic cocktails and feature new
ones inspired by the classics. (For more on the classics and
their offspring, have you ever have a chance to peek at the fab
Art of the Bar,
written by Hollinger and Rob Schwartz? There’s a reason why
it won “Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book” at Tales
this year!) The new bar concept is being described as a grand saloon
of the pre-Prohibition era, a grand time for cocktails, but since
a space hasn’t been locked in yet, there will still be
some fine-tuning of the idea and execution (it will also have
a name, obviously). Expect a focus primarily on gin and whiskey.
GM duties at Absinthe will be winding to a close in the coming
month or thereabouts so he can focus on the new bar’s business
plan and location search, but you can still expect to see him
popping in to handle private events and the like; Absinthe is
in the process of searching for a new GM now. Raglin will also
(eventually) be stepping back from his bar management role, but
they will both be keeping a watchful eye on Absinthe, upholding
its reputation as one of the city’s prime destinations
for cocktails. I will be keeping you posted on developments,
like the new bar’s name and location
once it’s all final, but for now, let’s hope for an
opening in early 2008. Purr.
I was away getting saucy in New Orleans, I missed a couple big
openings. First up is ~LAÏOLA~,
which unfortunately can’t serve wines
off their fab list just yet, but hopefully in the next couple weeks.
In the meantime, you can take advantage of their BYOB (or as I
like to say, BYOGV, GV is for “good vino”) policy,
with no corkage for the time being. You can visit Nectar
Wine Lounge just
around the corner on Steiner, which has a retail license and has
offered to give customers a 10% discount off retail wine sales
when you tell them you are eating at Laïola. Sweet. Once Laïola’s
beer and wine license issue is resolved, you can enjoy their house
blend of Borracho y Loco, and wine-based cocktails made by Camber
Lay of Frisson and Range bar fame. 2031 Chestnut St. at Fillmore,
also sorry to miss the opening parties of ~ENRICO’S~,
but will be making my way in there soon to check out the new
look, menu, and vibe. And dranks. Way to go on the team saving
a San Francisco icon, and from what I’ve
heard, they have done it right. Open for dinner (for now) Mon–Sat—extended
hours will be coming later. 504 Broadway at Kearny, 415-982-6223.
the new Nepali small plates concept that moved into the former
Le Metro Café space on Divisadero just opened
last Tuesday. Nothing is over $10, and they are open Tue–Sun until 1am.
311 Divisadero St. at Page, 415-552-0903.
As the Miyako Hotel in Japantown morphs into Joie de Vivre Hospitality’s
Hotel Kabuki (it should reopen after a major remodel this November),
the hotel’s DOT Bar and Lounge is becoming ~O IZAKAYA
LOUNGE~, with a hoped-for opening of October 1. The
chef is Nick Balla, who worked as a sous under Paul Arenstam
at Americano, another JDV hotel restaurant (in the Hotel Vitale).
O will offer mid-priced Japanese-influenced shared plates with
a California spin (don’t call it fusion). Balla recently spent two weeks staging in
a bunch of restaurants and izakayas in Japan. His approach will
be simple and modern, putting together dishes like pickled saba
with fresh wasabi, beets, and cucumber; braised pork belly with
kimchee (yes, kimchee is Korean, but is popular in Japan) and mushrooms;
and a version of kamonasu, a dish of duck and eggplant (cured in
duck fat) with grated daikon and red shiso jus. Yes, my mouth just
watered. Balla will even be using local seaweed in his seaweed
salad. There will also be a separate bar menu, with items like
a burger made with organic beef, and chicken wings.
Guthrie & Company (he also designed Myth, Bix, and Tra Vigne) is designing the 90-seat
restaurant—there are also two communal tables, and room for
20 at the rounded bar in the center. O will have a minimal style,
with comfy surroundings and hues of reds, orange, and elements
like glass embedded with reeds. The look will also celebrate the
Japanese fascination with baseball, with sports team baseball art,
like large graphic screens of vintage Japanese baseball cards facing
the street, and flat-screen TVs above the bar where guests will
be able to watch U.S. games, and games broadcast from Japan. There
aren’t many casual places in the area with a full bar where
you can hang out and eat, so it definitely will fulfill a niche.
There will be breakfast for hotel guests, but otherwise it’s dinner
only, and will be open late night plus weekend afternoons. 1625
Post St. at Laguna.
this is totally the pits: poor ~BRUCE HILL~ of
Bix and Picco wrecked on his bike last week while track racing
at Thunder Hill—and going 70 mph. Thank goodness he’s
okay, but he broke his ankle (the talus—oh, it only connects
the leg and the foot!) and now has four screws holding it all in
place. So lousy. He’s interacting with his chefs before service
each day and is very confident they’ll be doing an excellent
job over the next few weeks while he is stuck keeping his leg elevated.
Such a drag. I am selfishly hoping Bruce will be up for hosting
a four-course Champagne feast he is scheduled to hold at Picco
Larkspur on August 20 with Jerry Horn, AKA Dr. Champagne. I had
a great time at Jerry’s last shampoo event at Scott Howard—talk
about some swell bubblies. Like, ridiculous. If you want to buy
tickets to the event, they are $150 (including tax and gratuity)
and space is limited to 18 guests. Get in touch with Jerry directly
at 415-497-7693 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heal up and feel better, Bruce!
So, wrecks are the pits, and closures are the pits, too. That
cursed space on Van Ness has struck again, and has now gobbled
up ~HUE L’AMOUR~. The owner was the nicest
person, sorry they didn’t make it. 2080 Van Ness Ave. at
the Orchard Hotel on Bush Street has also closed. According to
a goodbye note on their website you can visit owner-GM Stephen
Walker and chef-owner Jason Yeafoli at their year-old restaurant
in Pacifica, Barolo.
~NUA~ in North Beach has started up some weekend brunch for you eggheads.
The menu includes bruschetta with scrambled eggs, braised chard,
and sausage; and a leek, onion, and herb frittata, plus items
more on the daytime side of things, like grilled tuna or lamb
brochettes. And, of course, a burger. There are also some libations
like Bellinis and the Shady Shandy, made with Bundaberg ginger
beer, fresh lemon and lime, and a lager float. Sat–Sun
10:30 am–2:30 pm. 550 Green St. at Jasper Place, 415-433-4000.
the “rise and shine” news
MCCORMICK~, of Blue Bottle kiosk and Piccino fame, and
the former bartender and barista of Oliveto for nine years, has
moved to New York. Now, I don’t typically mention news
outside of San Francisco city limits, let alone the eastern seaboard,
but anyone out there will be beyond stoked to know homeboy is
opening a café called Abraco (it means embrace in Portuguese),
which is want you’ll want to do to him after he makes you
a pretty coffee. He took over a little falafel shop (all 9 x
18 feet of it) with some investors/partners who are all Bay Area
musical alumni, and will be opening a coffee bar with all kinds
of good morning eats, like frittatas, house-made yogurt, and
fresh-squeezed juices as the seasons provide. Elizabeth Quijada
of Suspicious Suppers fame and recently the head baker at Babycakes (a
bakery in NYC where you can find awesome sugar-free, gluten-free,
wheat-free, vegan treats) is putting together a sweets menu with
treats like olive oil cake, almond spice cake, deep fried ricotta
fritters, zeppole and the like. During the day they will do panini,
and in warm months, gazpacho. At night they will cater to the
bar crowd (there are five bars across the street) with patatas
bravas, warm olives, and made-to-order crisps (potato chips)
plus house-made ketchup and garnishes for ‘em. Yup,
it all sounds mighty tasty (and convenient). As for what kind
of coffee they will serve, it’s still being finalized.
Abraco will be opening on August 13th. Congrats, and rock it,
Jamie! 86 7th E. 7th St. at 1st Ave.
And in closing, this fully broke my heart yesterday. This statement
below was forwarded to me—it’s from ~GRANT ACHATZ~,
by way of his publicist. As many of you know, Achatz is the incredible
chef of the cutting-edge Alinea
in Chicago, winning restaurant of the year by Gourmet in
2006, and admired worldwide for his inventiveness and talent.
I wanted to personally report that I have been very recently
diagnosed with an advanced stage of Squamous Cell Carcinoma of
the mouth. I have consulted several prominent physicians and
will likely begin aggressive treatment within the next few weeks.
I remain, and will remain, actively and optimistically engaged
in operations at Alinea to the largest extent possible. Alinea
will continue to perform at the level people have come to expect
from us -- I insist on that. I have received amazing support
from friends, family, and everyone who has thus far been told
of the disease, and I look forward to a full, cancer-free, recovery.
had the honor of meeting Achatz at the Masters of Food and Wine
in Carmel this year (pictured here)—he was kind, funny,
and delightfully absent of any chef puffery. Pete Wells of the New
York Times had a chance to connect with him yesterday—here’s
more on the Diner’s
I know there are people around the world whose hearts are going
out to him. Here’s wishing him all the best in his fight—may
he recover swiftly like the brave and lovely soul he is.
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