29, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO I
was hearing rumblings last week, and it seems that ~NUA~ in
North Beach has closed. Things weren’t looking good
with the diminished dinner hours (Wed–Sat only). Some rumors
have owner David White involved in a potential project elsewhere
in town—will report back if I hear anything definitive.
550 Green St. at Jasper, 415-433-4000.
Another project that just went kaput: the ~FRISSON/SPREZZATURA
GROUP/SEAN O’BRIEN COLLABORATION~. Raising money
proved to be difficult (what, in this challenging business
climate?), and it ends up that the Sprezzatura Group (Andrew
McCormack and Joe Hargrave) are also splitting up. There’s no drama or
hard feelings: Hargrave will continue focusing on the operations
of Laïola, and McCormack is returning to hedge funds (but
he still owns his equity). The frisson space is now on the market,
and in case some of you out there were originally hoping to court
O’Brien to your project when he left Myth, here’s
your chance. Well, maybe. (He alluded to something else potentially
in the works, but it’s way too soon to tell.) Just reply
to me if you’d like to get in touch with him. You know,
there are a lot of vacant spaces in Jackson Square: MacArthur
Park, Scott Howard, Myth, and now frisson… Hmmmm. It’s
getting rough out there.
Some good news about ~LAÏOLA~ (which I totally heart): the restaurant is kicking off lunch on
Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30am–2:30pm this weekend. There
will also be outdoor seating, with room for 12, plus heaters, which
will be all set up by this weekend, or next. 2031 Chestnut St.
at Fillmore, 415-346-5641.
Whoa, ~BORIS PORTNOY~,
only one of my favorite pastry chefs ever, is no longer
at Campton Place. He is traveling right now in Indonesia, but
will be heading back home to SF soon. Nothing quite final about
what his next gig will be when he returns… Will keep you posted, naturally.
I have a vested interest in knowing where he is—it’s
all about the pursuit of deliciousness.
word that the executive chef of ~CORTEZ~,
Seth Bowden, is leaving on June 2nd (he might stay a little longer
if necessary). Bowden and Cortez’s new owner, Ron Silberstein,
are on good terms—the departure is more about the fact that
Bowden is moving to South Africa this summer with his wife, and
is fired up to be doing some stages in Europe during his “sabbatical.” So
the chef hunt is on—Silberstein is considering a concept
that might be a little less high-end. Any interested candidates
out there? 550 Geary St. at Jones, 415-292-6360.
just a few blocks away, co-executive chef Charlie Kleinman of ~FISH & FARM~ is leaving at the end of May—he’s
going to focus on getting his own project off the ground. Co-executive
chef Jake Des Voignes will continue to hold it down. 339 Taylor
St. at O'Farrell, 415-474-3474.
~FRJTZ~ in Hayes Valley is officially open. It’s much larger than
its former Hayes Valley address next door, when it used to be in
the awesome Mad Magda’s Russian Tea Room space with the back
patio (anyone know what is going in there? I loved that spot),
and now has moved into the former Montauk furniture store, for
those of you who keep track of these things. Stylistically, things
have changed too: the look is more minimalist and modern than bohemian.
No mussels at this location, however—just at Valencia Street.
Here you’ll find fries, crepes, salads, and sandos. 581 Hayes
St. at Laguna, 415-864-7654.
Some news in the Western Addition/NoPa area: ~ON THE CORNER~ had
its soft opening last week, and is hosting its grand opening this
Saturday, May 3rd. Look for coffee, tea, soups, sandwiches, bagels,
and some pastries, with breakfast sandwiches, pizza, and panini
starting up next week, on May 5th. There will be daytime and nighttime
bands and jazz, and the beer and wine should kick in five weeks
from now, so let’s say June. Open 8am–10pm, and will
start opening at 6am on May 5th (rise and shine, yo). Hours will
eventually extend to midnight—they are playing it by ear
(ha ha, yes, a pun!) until the beer and wine license is in effect.
Oh, and there’s free Wi-Fi for you laptop warriors. 359 Divisadero
St. at Oak, 415-522-1101.
some of you are asking me, “Wassup with ~BAR
CRUDO ON DIVISADERO~?,” I wanted to give you an
update: permits are still in the works, and will hopefully wrap
in June. August is the new hoped-for opening date. No name for
the biz just yet either. Stand by! 655 Divisadero St. at Grove.
Been waiting, and wondering, what was going to be moving into
the ~PIER 5~ restaurant/café spaces, located
a bit north of the Ferry Building. Well, thanks to a tablehopper
reader who sent in this tip just before I published this week’s
column, now we know! “Russell Jackson (aka Dissident
wrote in his last blast email that he signed a lease last Friday
for a space on Pier 5 on the Embarcadero of San Francisco's waterfront.” I
hope to have more details by next week!
these warmer days, sometimes what you need is a secret little
space to grab a table and hang out. Well, last week I was at ~SPORK~
checking out their lunch (they are now serving lunch Tue–Fri
11:30am–2pm) and lo and behold, their deck/patio in the back
was almost complete! It should be up and running by now. You’d
never know it’s back there—well, unless you read tablehopper,
of course. They built it over the old KFC parking lot, and umbrellas
and heat lamps are included. There are also some old water troughs
that have been converted into mini-garden plots. It’s cute.
Oh, and if you go for lunch, don’t miss the deeeelish carnitas
on some over-easy eggs and a tortilla, plus avocado and queso fresco.
I was calling it a perfect candidate for a hipster breakfast: you
can wake up late, it’s cool, bro! The pasta with beef Bolognese
sauce smelled really good too. Check out the rest of the lunch
1058 Valencia St. at 21st St., 415-643-5000.
just a block away… A while ago I mentioned a business
called ~ZAYTOON~ was moving into the old Bistro
Annex space in the Mission. As I was reading this week’s
spring “Feast” insert in the San Francisco Bay
Guardian, I spotted an ad for Zaytoon, serving Mediterranean
wraps! Ok, so now we know. The ad says, “Mention this ad
for a buy one, get one free” deal during the opening month
of May. Ah ha! More details. So, it opens in May! No one is picking
up at the number just yet… Can someone let me know when it’s open?
And a tablehopper reader kindly informed me the last time I mentioned
this mystery biz that zaytoon means “olive” in Farsi.
Now you know. 1136 Valencia St. at 22nd St., 415-824-1787.
a little teaser from you: next week I’ll
be releasing some exciting news about a new project related to ~DESTINO~—I’ve
been sitting on this for months (can’t wait to let the cat
outta the bag) but based on some online sleuthing, here’s
a little hint about what
is going into
the space next door at 1817 Market Street. Salud!
we’re on “secret spaces,” have
you had a chance to check out ~FOUR BARREL COFFEE~ yet?
(Or as I am now going to call it, alley coffee.) After my lunch
at Los Rosales this week (see fresh meat for more on that), I finally
had some time to cruise by and check it out. You literally have
to go down a slightly sketchy alley—just look for some folks
hanging out at the end. No, you won’t get shanked. (Although
it does prove what ends San Franciscans will go to for good coffee.)
There’s a cool Deco-lookin’ fabricated bar/kiosk thingy
where you’ll order up, and then you can stand around and
kick it with some neighborhood architect types while savoring your
stellar espresso. Don’t say I didn’t warn you—it’ll
put you in the zooooooone. I almost ordered a second shot on the
spot. For now, they are using coffee from Stumptown Coffee Roasters
in Portland until the Four Barrel Coffee roastery part of the biz
is up and running, which could be in a month or so (ditto on the
café). So enjoy the novelty of alley coffee while you can!
Just enter the alley (Caledonia) off 15th Street—it's parallel
to and a little bit east of Valencia (i.e. going toward Mission,
for the directionally challenged).
like there’s another
place to power lunch in SoMa: ~JACK
has just added a “Power Lunch” menu to the regular
lunch menu. The new offerings include a lunch-size starter paired
and served with an entrée (which means a nicely-sized lunch
that’s not too filling and won't take too long). Some combos
include potato and leek soup paired with a chicken Caesar salad;
apple, walnut, and baby green salad paired with a “PBLT” sandwich
of slow-roasted pork belly and beefsteak tomato on grilled sourdough;
and seasonal soup paired with Liberty Farms duck breast Cobb salad
(with poached egg!). “The Power Lunch” pairings
range from $16–$19. For those avoiding the three-martini
lunch scene, there are “Zero-Proof Concoctions” as
well, like a grapefruit spritzer, or grape lime Rickey, with Navarro
gewürztraminer juice with a splash of lime and soda, each
$6. Lunch Mon–Fri 11:30am–2pm. 598 Second St. at Brannan,
don’t need any convincing about the sublime
factor of the pesto at ~FARINA~.
The mandilli al pesto dish is truly one of the city’s
best pasta dishes, meow. Seems the rest of the world thinks so
too, because their sous chef, James D. “Danny” Bowien
won the 2008 Golden Pestle for Best Pesto Sauce in the World at
Genoa’s Palazzo Ducale. A Korean-American beat the Italians!
Love it, and it ties in well with the recent New
York Times article about non-Italian chefs cooking Italian food. ‘Nuff said! I am sure Farina’s
executive chef, Genoese Paolo Laboa, is thrilled since he’s
the one who taught him the way of the pesto (it’s like samurai
knowledge). 100 finalists (both professional and amateur
cooks) from all over the world competed to make pesto with a mortar,
pestle, and solely authentic Genoese pesto ingredients (Genoese
basil, Parmigiano Reggiano, Fiore Sardo cheese, Ligurian extra
virgin olive oil, Vessalico garlic, sea salt, and Italian pine
nuts). Read more on the event here.
Tanti auguri, Danny!
to mention I’ll be a panelist
at the upcoming ~RESTAURANT
BOOTCAMP~, an all-day conference on Tuesday, May 13th,
at Fort Mason. I’ll be on the afternoon’s “Create
the Buzz” new media panel, with Nish Nadaraja from Yelp,
Liz Johannesen of OpenTable, and the featured restaurateur is Eric
Rubin from Tres Agaves. On Wednesday, April 30th, 1pm, a special
pre-conference tele-seminar will feature Danny Meyer, author of Setting
the Table. Participants may join a live telephone call with
Meyer. To register for the call, and get more info, visit www.restaurantbootcamp.com or
Thursday, May 8th, is ~EAST WEST
EATS: AN EVENING WITH THE BAY AREA'S BEST CHEFS~, a culinary
fundraiser for student journalism scholarships at the Ferry Building
Marketplace. Chefs from the following restaurants will be featured:
Straits Restaurant, Betelnut, Three Seasons, Junnoon, Butterfly,
Poleng Lounge, Red Lantern, Maharani, Namu, Ponzu, and Hilton San
Francisco. The event also will feature wine and entertainment.
7pm, $100 for AAJA (Asian American Journalists Association) members,
and $115 for non-members. Tickets can be purchased online at www.aajasf.org/ewe.
in entering the first-ever contest to determine the most environmentally
friendly restaurant in the Bay Area? Anyone can nominate a restaurant
that they believe is "green" in
some way, including the restaurants themselves. Nominations can
be done online at www.thimmakka.org.
The nomination period for the ~WHO'S THE GREENEST OF THEM
ALL~ contest is from April 22–May 31, with winners
to be announced on June 24th. Winners will be selected in a variety
of categories. In case you were wondering, Thimmakka is a grassroots
non-profit organization dedicated to environmental outreach—in
the last six years, it has helped over 120 restaurant owners 'green'
their establishment by implementing at least 60 measures in the
areas of water and energy conservation, pollution prevention, and
for some East Bay love—and when I say love, that means
free food! There’s a new restaurant set to launch called ~QIN’S
ASIAN BISTRO & BAR~ (pronounced chin) in Antioch, and the team at Full
Plate Restaurant Consulting (with clients like Bin 38, Dosa, Maritime East, Namu) is looking
for Contra Costa dining guinea pigs. On Friday, May 9th, and Saturday,
May 10th, they will be hosting a pre opening “dry run” to
see if their latest client is ready for prime time. Fast-acting
tablehopper readers are invited to bring guests for an “on
the house” menu tasting (limited to first 100 total diners).
The catch? You must each fill out a detailed survey that will take
ten minutes. Be honest, but kind—this will be the first time
that the kitchen is working together, and they want constructive
criticism that will help them fix glitches before they open to
the general public.
you arrive, there will be regular menu with several selections
in each category. Food is free for you and your guests. You need
only pay for drinks and gratuity; credit cards will be accepted.
to make a reservation via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reservations deadline is by Monday, May 5th. Put “tablehopper
tasting” in the subject line and give your name, preferred
day (Fri or Sat), seating time (any time between 6pm–8:30pm),
number in party (maximum four), and contact phone number. You’ll
get an email confirmation within 48 hours (if not, call Joan Simon
at 707-795-4885). Have fun, and enjoy! Some dishes I saw on the
press release include creamy Thai chicken chowder; whisky lobster
bisque; sriracha chili-soaked chicken wings; twice-cooked crab
for two served over garlic noodles; and traditional Peking duck.
Hungry? Do something about that, why doncha?
a hot tip? You know I'd love it (and you). Just reply to