OCTOBER 7, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO True
to my name, I’ve had quite the week of tastes, many of them
new, so I thought I’d do a fun mini-recap. Taste-hopping,
if you will. First, have you tried the roasted corn ice cream with
skillet bread and honey and bacon brittle at Nopa?
Mother of god. And with some bourbon to sip on the side? Uh huh.
winner: my macchiato and chocolate spice doughnut from Dynamo
Donuts at Four Barrel Coffee on Sunday (we had
three kinds of doughnut to choose from—yes, we chose all three).
If only every Sunday started this way.
Also got to try the new Bols
Genever at a launch party last week (NOT for breakfast).
Look for the smoky glass bottle at bars around town—it’s
a delicious Dutch spirit based on malt wine and botanicals,
unlike anything you’ve ever tasted, and sure to appear
in many a new cocktail (or classic one being faithfully resuscitated).
Had a charming meal at Velo
Rouge Cafe on Thursday during the new weekly supper night,
courtesy of personal chef Melissa Claire. It’s
a fun night because you sit with strangers at three communal
tables while munching on a downright generous prix-fixe meal
for $45, all made with seasonal, organic, and quality ingredients
(the flat-iron steak with chimichurri hit the spot). It’s
a casual, easygoing, and homey affair—so if you’re
looking for a little something different than the usual restaurant
set-up, check it out. You can read the weekly menu and learn
more on Melissa’s
Was also thrilled to have literally the last bite from Stuart
Brioza and Nicole Krasinski’s table at the Sunday
Supper reception: warm sweetbread and tongue terrine, bound with
some crème fraîche. Like, whoa. Which reminds me:
Stuart and Nicole have returned from their month of marriage
festivities and are full-tilt into their private cheffing. If
you have a holiday gig coming up, and want some supreme vittles,
email Stuart at firstname.lastname@example.org.
also be remiss if I didn’t
mention the perfetto clam pizza I had over lunch last Friday
at the new Pizzeria
Delfina California Street location, and for dessert, the
affogato made with espresso off their Faema E61 and homemade gelato.
So very meow, although a few items were less-than-meow (eh, growing
pains). 2406 California St. at Fillmore, 415-440-1189.
in the not very meow at all department, ~THERE’S
ANOTHER PURSE-SNATCHER ON THE LOOSE~, brazenly hitting
up some of the city’s best restaurants. He seems to have
a penchant for the Embarcadero, because he’s been spotted
and/or has struck at places like Boulevard, Chaya, Americano,
Waterbar, Shanghai 1930, Town Hall, and Salt House over the past
two weeks. I spoke with some GMs at a few of the restaurants,
and here’s what he seems to look like: he’s in his
30s or early 40s, shaved head with ears that stick out, stocky
build (maybe about 5'6"–5'10"), and appears to
be ethnically mixed, with medium-toned skin. He has a prison-style
homemade tattoo on the inside of his left forearm, and a more
decorative tat on his left bicep. He’s smooth and dresses to fit in
well—he was spotted with a white button shirt with short
sleeves, tucked into jeans or dark pants, and he carries a shopping
bag (it was once a GAP bag). He will either hit a restaurant’s
bar area, or smiles at the host and then goes into
the dining room, taking womens’ purses off the back of
their chairs and putting them directly into his shopping bag,
and then he’s
out of there. He’s been spotted alone, as well as with
a few accomplices who “shadow” him, including an
Asian woman, but he tends to mix up his company.
So if any of
you are bringing a purse or shoulder bag into a restaurant, put
it where you can see it. We had a bunch of purse-snatcher nonsense
happen last year too, so it’s always an unfortunate possibility,
especially when times are tougher than usual. Ladies, have you
tried a purse holder yet? I know Town Hall / Salt House / Anchor & Hope
just bought 60 of them for their guests to use while dining there—it’s
a lot better than having your purse on the floor, or on the back
of your chair where you can’t see it. And front of house
staff, be on the lookout for this guy—he’s pretty brazen.
If you are FOH and want to see a picture of him, Matt Stuhl, the
Director of F&B at Americano, has a security picture of the
purse snatcher that he can forward to you—just call the restaurant
at 415-278-3777 and ask for Matt. Everyone in the restaurant community
wants this guy stopped, immediately.
another shift happening at ~ORSON~ in
SoMa: chef de cuisine Ryan Farr is leaving on October 25th to pursue
other interests (more on this in a moment). The restaurant has
been open for seven months and is continuing to make adjustments
to its style and format, not exactly unexpected in this increasingly
challenging economy. I spoke with Elizabeth Falkner, who said upon
Farr’s departure, Orson’s menu will be morphing into
a brasserie style, a modern Stars of sorts, offering honest and
creative fare at a reasonable price. She said to look for the wood-burning
oven being utilized even more, for dishes like mussels, plus additions
like a modern Caesar, boudin blanc with potatoes mousseline, and
grilled items, including grilled quail. Falkner also said she is
considering adding some familiar dishes to the menu, like a burger,
and steak frites with creamed spinach pudding, but there will still
be elements of flair and playful flavor.
Falkner stated, “The restaurant has been stamped too much
as a fine dining location, and I want to broaden its audience and
appeal to more people.” (I tend to think this is what happens
when you open a stylish place in SF—some equate stylish with
fancy, which it’s not.) In the meantime, Falkner and Farr
are gearing up for the Whiskey
and Pig dinner this Wednesday, and their Beard House dinner
on October 14th. She is not looking for a replacement at the moment,
and said with this economy it makes sense to hold on that for a
bit. Instead, she is working closely with the restaurant’s
talented sous chefs, Elgin and Josh, during this transition. Falkner
added, “Restaurants are supposed to take care of people when
they’re not feeling great, and besides, people need to drink
in times like this.” I say amen, and to that end, don’t
forget their killer happy hour from 5pm–7pm, with $5 drinks.
Farr is off to pursue his interests, which include
working more with nonprofit and educational/community groups
like Nextcourse. He will
also be the new CHEFS (Conquering
Homelessness Through Employment in Food Service) instructor
starting in November, plus continuing his work with butchery,
charcuterie, and will also be doing some private chef gigs
(at the end of the month he is off to New York to host a high-end
dinner for a client). Farr stated, “I’ve been working
with Elizabeth and Sabrina [Riddle] for the past 2 ½ years,
I have been very fortunate to share their vision and dreams
on this project. I love this restaurant and its wonderful staff,
I know that it will be a success and I am looking forward to
seeing it bloom.”
I wanted to extend a big congratulations to ~JAMIE LAUREN~,
the executive chef of Absinthe,
who will be the sole chef representing SF in the upcoming and fifth
season of Bravo’s Top Chef. You can read more about
whom she will be competing against here.
The season kicks off November 12th!
now, a couple items in the hi-lo category. I’m already
a big fan of the burger at ~SPRUCE~,
and now they had to go and make it all extra-Spruce-y with their
new Sunday special of Burgers & Burgundy. Through November,
Spruce will open three boutique red Burgundies from their extensive
cellar. The burger is $14, and the three different selections of
Burgundy are available at $12, $25, and $50. A flight of all three
is also available for $40. The selection will rotate each week
and may include Saint-Romain, Christophe Buisson 2006; Mercurey,
Les Montots, Aubert de Villaine 2006; or Nuits-Saint-Georges, Les
Bousselots, Robert Chevillon 1999. You can also “spruce” up
your burger with house-made pancetta for $3 or seared foie gras
for $13. See you there. Oh, and congrats to the Bacchus team who
is in New York gearing up to accept an award from Esquire magazine
as one of their “Best New Restaurants.” 3640 Sacramento
St. at Spruce, 415-931-5100.
Folks were fired up in the Mission last week when Anthony Myint,
a cook at Bar Tartine, started his new late-night gourmet street
food venture called, appropriately enough, ~MISSION STREET
FOOD~. On Thursday nights from 8pm–2am, you can
walk up to the food truck he’s subletting at the corner of
21st and Mission for fresh home-made flatbread sandwiches with
combos like fried pork belly, marinated jicama, pickled jalapeno,
and cilantro aioli (you can peek at a Yelper’s pic of this
new-style PB&J here),
or a veggie one with king trumpet mushrooms, triple-fried potato,
garlic confit, and scallion sour cream, all for $4–$5 each.
He emailed me to say last Thursday his truck wasn’t delivered
until late, so expect a few kinks while the deets get worked out,
but let’s hope this is a tradition that continues. You can
read updates on the truck’s blog here.
Corner of 21st St. and Mission.
A while back
I mentioned a café that was opening called
Stefano Café in the Outer Mission. Well, a tablehopper wrote
in to tell me the place is much more than a cafe. Namely, it’s now ~STEFANO
CAFE & RESTAURANT~, serving authentic pasta dishes
and pizzas (you can read the
menu online). I spoke with Sicilian Stefano, and he said the
lasagna is delicioso. He also mentioned their coffee is from Messina,
and they feature other Italian products. The place has 32 seats,
and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Hours are 9am–3pm,
and then 5pm–10pm daily. I’ll check it out soon and
will report back! 59 30th St. at San Jose, 415-970-9213.
Not too far
away, another tablehopper reader wrote in to say, “The
latest I have heard about ~BELGANO~ in Noe Valley
is that it is going to become a ~TUTTIMELON~ [frozen
yogurt place]. Their website indicates
that too and I had heard that the folks who ran Belgano are in
fact the guys who are the ones behind the franchising of Tuttimelon
(can't confirm that part though).” Thanks, T! 3901 24th St.
And now, a brunch report. ~RESTAURANT
CASSIS~ in the lower Fillmore is kicking off brunch
service beginning this Saturday October 11th. The menu includes
omelettes, poached egg dishes, caramelized French toast (natch),
and some more lunch-y items—perfect for a weekend brunch
(or lunch) date followed by a movie at the nearby Sundance
Kabuki. Cassis is also working on adding outdoor sidewalk seating
very soon. Hours will be Sat–Sun 10:30am–2:30pm.
2101 Sutter St. at Steiner, 415-440-4500.
~PAUL K RESTAURANT~ in
Hayes Valley has added brunch service, with menu
items like brioche French toast, steak and eggs, and duck confit
hash, with most hovering around $11. Sat–Sun 10:30am–2:30pm.
199 Gough St. at Oak, 415-552-7132.
Over in Cow Hollow, ~SPUNTINO
DI OTTIMISTA’S~ grand opening is this Thursday
October 9th. To recap, there will be a take-out selection of
artisan cheeses, cured meats, and specialty food products,
plus panini, par-baked pizzas, prepared foods, salads, and
pastries made fresh daily in Ottimista’s kitchen just
up the street. A permit for retail purchases of wine should
be in effect in November. There will also be catering and optional
sommelier wine tasting services for in-home and corporate events.
Hours are Tue–Fri 11am–7pm, and Sat–Sun 10am–7pm.
1957 Union St. at Laguna, 415-931-6410.
And then in the Marina, if everything goes according to plan,
the 65-seat ~CHILAYO~ will be opening in the old
Andale spot on Chestnut this weekend. This is the third venture
from owner Jorge Saldana of Tlaloc in
the Financial District and Cancún in
Berkeley. Chilayo is a Jaliscan stew-like dish of pork loin with
vegetables, and Saldana said to expect some new dishes on Chilayo’s
menu, many inspired by the mercado and sidewalk stands of Mexico.
A peek at the menu includes authentic and affordable enchiladas,
tamales, tlacoyos, plus a number of tortas (like one with poblano
rajas!), a taquito special each day, and seafood dishes. Everything
will be a la carte, instead of the standard beans and rice combo
plates. Ingredients from his organic farm in Sonoma County will
be featured, including a variety of heirloom tomatoes and peppers
(hello salsas!), and even farm-fresh eggs. Lunch and dinner will
be served daily 10am–10pm, with breakfast on the weekends.
2150 Chestnut St. at Steiner, 415-674-1814.
get a chance to check out the opening of ~LILAH
BELLE'S~ this weekend, the new healthy eating
spot for take-out (or eat-in) by Dolores Park. Another new
place that is similarly based on offering pre-prepared nutritious
and delicious food will be ~BEAUTIFULL~ in
the former Cafe Lo Cubano space in Laurel Heights. The plan
is to open this takeout location in mid-January, offering “five-star
spa food, with a foundation of nutritional science and research,
and outstanding flavor.” The food is prepared fresh,
and there will be on-site seating and grab-and-go options,
with eventual expansion to high-end grocers. You can also have
the food delivered to your home. (Two more locations are also
in the works outside the City.) Items will range from $5 for
smaller dishes to up to $20 for a salmon entrée. I had
a chance to try a few of the meal items and I found the food
to be tasty and well prepared (my steak was impressively tender,
and the zucchini bread for breakfast was tender and moist);
Donna Insalaco of Paula Leduc Catering and Dr. Dean Ornish
were involved in the development of the products/concept. 3401 California
St. at Laurel.
Thursday October 16th is ~MARIQUITA FARM NIGHT~,
with another “guerilla” vegetable delivery. You can
pick up your $25 “mystery box” from 5pm–7pm—just click
here to place your order, and swing by Piccino for your pick
up. 801 22nd St. at Tennessee, 415-824-4224.
More farm goodness: on Tuesday October 21st, ~JACK
FALSTAFF~ executive chef Jonnatan Leiva is hosting
a farm-to-table dinner highlighting Star
Route Farms little lettuces, Manteca Farms suckling
pig, and Iron Horse Vineyards. Guests will be able to mingle
with the growers and winemaker all in one night. The dinner
will be held from 5:30pm–10pm, $100 per person. For more
info or to make a reservation, call 415-836-9239. 598 Second
St. at Brannan.
Litquake continues: this Saturday October 11th is the Lit
Crawl through the Mission (from 6pm–9:30pm), and Edible
San Francisco presents ~A SMORGASBOORD OF FOOD WRITERS~ at 18
the first session, from 6pm–7pm. Allison Arieff, Novella
Carpenter, Sara Deseran, Andy Griffin, Bonnie Azab Powell, and
emcee Bryant Terry will all be reading. Free. 18 Reasons, 593 Guerrero
St. at 18th St.
7x7 Bits and Bites blog had the scoop on Joseph Manzare’s
new joint, ~HECHO~, “a high-end sushi and
robata restaurant with a touch of Mexican.” Which I guess
means tequila and tataki? It’s going to open in SoMa in the
beginning of 2009 on Stevenson Street near 2nd Street. Read
all about it here.
and wanted to report that less than a week after the ~TYSON
HUNGER RELIEF SITE~ kicked off, they went over the
top with 2,000 comments. Which means 200,000 pounds of high-protein
foods are headed for Bay Area food banks. Good work.
A tablehopper reader wanted to be sure I knew chef Fabio Flagiello,
formerly of Risibisi Restaurant and Wine Bar in Sonoma County,
is now at ~BRIO RISTORANTE~ in Burlingame. Flagiello
was raised in Trieste, was reportedly the guy who taught Tony Shalhoub
how to cook for the movie Big Night. On October 22nd,
he is celebrating the restaurant’s grand opening in the former
train depot building that is now Brio. For a look at the menu and
wine list go here. 1190
California Dr. at Broadway, Burlingame, 650-348-6615.
Over in the East Bay, ~MUA~,
a new restaurant-bar-lounge-art studio-gallery-neighborhood joint
is opening Monday. The husband and wife team includes Soizic owner
Hi-Suk Dong and his wife, San Ju Dong. More from them about their
vision for Mua: “[it’s] a place where the amazing variety
of people they have gotten to know over the years as restaurateurs
and artists, would enjoy coming to eat, drink, see some art, hear
some music, watch some video, have an event or just hang out. Mua
aspires to be a pan-generational cross-cultural place with interesting
as well as comforting food in a lively, eclectic space… seasonal
and random inspirations from San Ju's fabulous new additions to
her kitchen staff will also be featured.” The Deco building
will be open for dinner starting Monday October 13th and will expand
to lunches soon. 2442a Webster St., at Broadway, 510-238-1100.
And then over in Hayward, ~BIJOU
RESTAURANT & BAR~ is offering contemporary French/California
cuisine at reasonable prices by executive chef Christian Nam-Hee,
a native of Paris. The wine list was compiled by Tom O’Connor
of Manresa, and there is also a full bar. The space sounds sleek,
with one-of-a-kind glowing ring chandeliers, leather chairs, a
lounge area, plus an outdoor sidewalk patio. Lunch and dinner daily
(until midnight Thu–Sat). 1036 B St. at Main, Hayward, 510-888-1092.
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