APRIL 14, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO It just goes to show that sometimes wicked talent and THAT Burger just aren’t enough to keep a restaurant afloat during rough economic times. Was sorry to hear from executive chef Jonnatan Leiva that ~JACK FALSTAFF~ is closing on Saturday May 9th. Leiva said they had a great run and that he feels like they are leaving on a high note, including a recent Beard House dinner, numerous accolades, and lets not forget all his television appearances. Leiva is currently looking into a few options, and there are sure to be more as the word spreads (he won’t be staying with the PlumpJack Group–the reopening of the Café space in Cow Hollow was discussed, but the project is too far off)–but his greatest concern is finding good positions for his loyal crew. Here’s wishing them all the best, and to all you burger lovers, here’s hoping Leiva appears somewhere local soon. 598 Second St. at Brannan, 415-836-9239.
Hot off the wire: just found out that executive chef Richard Corbo is leaving ~DUCCA~ to pursue other opportunities. He will be initially consulting in Miami, then working in New York with friends for a bit, then staging in Iowa with La Quercia salumeria, then off to Italy for two months staging, traveling, and studying. There are other interesting options in his cards later this year, but nothing is firmed up yet. He will be at Ducca until mid-June helping with the transition. 50 Third St. at Market, 415-977-0271.
And another departure in the news is chef de cuisine Chad Newton is no longer at ~URBAN TAVERN~ (he was previously the chef of Baraka). He had just finished launching the new menu. His last day was last Wednesday, and he is now looking for his next place, ideally a smaller venue. 333 O'Farrell St. at Mason, 415-923-4400.
Many were surprised to learn of the impending closure of Wolfgang Puck’s ~POSTRIO~ after 20 years in business, quite a run. The restaurant is going to undergo a redesigned interior, courtesy of EDG Interior Architecture + Design (EDG is also remodeling the entire hotel). When it reopens in late 2010, there will also be a new menu and concept. The main dining room will end dinner service sometime in mid-June; the restaurant will continue to provide breakfast service to hotel guests, and the bar will offer “enhanced lunch and dinner menus” to the public. The restaurant is planning to host a series of notable chef dinners the second week in June (and yes, Wolfgang will host one of the nights). I know there are folks who have been working at Postrio since the joint opened in 1989–best wishes to them all in finding a new place to work. So many people, so many memories there. 545 Post St. at Taylor, 415-776-8135.
The disappearance of spendy places to dine continues: ~THE TERRACE AT THE RITZ-CARLTON, SAN FRANCISCO~ has closed–the space is going to be used for private meetings. Nope, you can’t enjoy a Ramos Fizz alfresco during the famed Sunday brunch on the Terrace anymore. The $55 Sunday brunch will now be served in the Dining Room (get that pinkie up), and breakfast, lunch, weekend afternoon tea, and dinner service are all now served in the Lobby Lounge. 600 Stockton St. at California, 415-296-7465.
Last week the industry was buzzing about the opening of ~RN74~, the wine bar and restaurant at the base of Millennium Tower from the Mina Group. Dinner started last Friday, and lunch and late afternoon lighter fare menus launch today, Tuesday April 28th. Sample dishes from the initial dinner menu include chilled salad of Japanese big fin squid with sea urchin, Dungeness crab, cucumber, white sesame, and yuzu; pea tendril velouté with sweet carrots, macadamia nut, and navel orange; hand-cut pappardelle with cardoons, spinach, and red chili, Castelmagno cheese; and Four Story Hill Farm chicken with Swiss chard, white truffle bread pudding, and roasted chicken jus. Lunch dishes ring in at $11–$14, and dinner dishes are priced $14–$17, while the Wine Bar menu ranges from $9–$15 per dish (and includes the “RN74 slice” topped with fingerling potatoes, Epoisses, fleur de sel, and rosemary). Desserts and artisan cheeses are $9 each.
Wine director and restaurant partner Rajat Parr’s wine list includes the best expressions of red and white Burgundy (but of course), as well as new world pinot noirs and chardonnays, and a selection of varietals from other world regions. The list has over 50 wines by both the glass and taste. Also on the list: some wines by executive chef Jason Berthold (yup, he’s both a chef and winemaker), Parr, as well as contributions from renowned wine collector Wilf Jaeger. And just in case you don’t remember what RN74 means, it’s named after Route National 74, the major thoroughfare passing through the heart of France’s Burgundy region. AvroKO, the killer New York design firm, is behind the space, which sports a 30-seat bar and 75 seats in the restaurant. Lunch is Mon–Fri starting at 11:30am, and the wine bar will serve until 11pm on weeknights, and midnight Fri–Sat. Millennium Tower, 301 Mission St. at Beale, 415-543-7474.
Luis Villavelazquez, the pastry chef from ~ORSON~, is now at ~ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR~. He will oversee the dessert program at Absinthe as well as revamp the offerings at Arlequin Café as well. The famed chocolate pot de crème won’t be going anywhere, but look for new additions like olive oil cake with candied rhubarb sorbet, lemon pepper yogurt, and Chartreuse, and new to-go snacks at Arlequin, like a yogurt-covered pine nut granola bar. There will also be new scones and breads during brunch as well. 398 Hayes St. at Gough, 415-551-1590.
In the meantime, Elizabeth Falkner is developing and adding her own new desserts to the menu at Orson, including the Bomb Pop (chocolate fudgesicle, tangelo sorbet, lavender whip) and the Santorini (cardamom-date phyllo cigar, candied kumquats, yogurt, pine nuts). 508 4th St at Bryant, 415-777-1508.
Cool new pop-up restaurant alert: once a week, some gents from the Chez/OPEN Restaurant gang (and friends) will be hosting a restaurant upstairs at ~BRUNO’S~ and serving killer bar food in the bar area downstairs. The chefs and partners in the project include Chris Kronner (recently of Serpentine and Slow Club, Chez Panisse), Sam White and Howie Correa (front of house at Chez Panisse), Danny Bowien (Bar Tartine, and World Pesto Champion), and Oliver Monday (flour + water). Unlike Mission Street Food down the street with its rotating roster of guest chefs, this will be a set group of chefs cooking each Thursday. Dinner will be upstairs in the private room, and unlike the chefs’ Cal-Med-Chez pedigree might lead you to believe, they’re trying a different style here. In keeping with the flashy 1960s casino/steakhouse-meets-strip club vibe of Bruno’s décor, look for dishes like sous vide Prather Ranch prime rib for two and other steakhouse cuts, whole fish for two, and house-made pasta, served by staff in vintage suits. White tablecloth, natch. You know the products will be of superior quality, but the well-edited menu will be priced to be affordable. There will only be 35 seats upstairs, and dinner will be served from 8pm–1:30am. Since there’s a bar upstairs (five seats), there will also be a featured artisanal cocktail–guest bartender Christa Manalo (Town Hall, Beretta) will be making some vermouth, so expect an authentic martini for the inaugural night.
The downstairs action will be equally appealing, with $6–$7 old school cocktails (break out the Cutty Sark and Beefeater). There will also be tasty bar food, like chicken wings, pork bahn mi sandwiches (quite possibly on Tartine baguette), Prather Ranch hot dogs with kimchee, and smoked beef heart chili, plus hand-cut fries, rillettes, and more (I heard Ryan Farr might be doing corndogs). Cool guest DJs pushin’ a soul-lounge vibe are also in the works. The night has no name yet, but should be kicking off next Thursday May 7th (I’ll confirm next week). If you want to make a reservation for dinner, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, just swing by for bites and drinks downstairs. Heck, do both. 2389 Mission St. at 20th St., 415-643-5200.
Over in Bernal, ~BLUE ELEPHANT THAI CUISINE~ has officially opened in the former Tinderbox space–it’s from the folks behind Dupont Thai on Grant in North Beach. The menu offers some usual suspects, but there is also free delivery with a $15 minimum. 803 Cortland Ave. at Ellsworth, 415-642-9900.
~OTORO~ opened last night in Hayes Valley in the former Laurel's Cuban Restaurant space. I mentioned a few weeks back there will be a combination of Japanese dishes, ranging from izakaya-inspired small plates, to noodles (udon, soba, and three kinds of ramen), and sushi from the appropriately named chef Maki. The spot is small, with about 30 seats and an eight-seat bar, where they serve sake, soju, and, of course, soju cocktails. Lunch Mon–Sat 11:30am–2:30pm, dinner Mon–Thu 5pm–10:30pm and Fri–Sat 5pm–11pm. 205 Oak St. at Gough, 415-553-3986.
~BRICK~, now ~FLY~ is reopening more quickly than expected. Like, tonight! The plan is to open at 5pm, just in time for happy hour. (The grand opening is this Friday May 1st.) You’ll be able to munch a bunch a new bunch of appetizers, pizzas, salads, sandwiches, and a few other additions, but nothing will be over $11; there are also $7 cocktail specials. Lunch starts next Tuesday. 1085 Sutter St. at Larkin, 415-441-4232.
Changes are coming to Russian Hill’s ~HYDE ST. BISTRO~. The restaurant will be closing within the next week or so, and after a one–two month remodel, it will be opening with a new look and concept. I spoke with the new co-owner Michael Audry, who was previously the chef at La Provence for three-plus years (he left about four months ago). He has partnered with Hyde Street Bistro owner Aurore Martinez; Audry said they will share more about the changes soon. The bistro should be closing within the next week or two. 1521 Hyde St. at Jackson, 415-292-4415.
~WOODHOUSE ON FILLMORE~ started dinner service (you can check out the PDF of the menu here) and the beer and wine is pourin’! I also hear Tuesdays means $1 oysters. Open Sun–Thu 11:30am–10pm, Fri–Sat 11:30am–11pm. 1914 Fillmore St. at Bush.
More Fillmore news: after three days of closure, ~LA BOULANGE DE FILLMORE~ is reopening with a fresh paint job and 20 seats on their mezzanine. The menu has also been revised and expanded, now with burgers, fries, and more egg dishes. 2043 Fillmore St. at Pine, 415-928-1300.
Speaking of brunch, the reports of ~SPORK’S~ new Sunday brunch are bueno: Four Barrel coffee, coffee cake, their awesome back patio (shhhh), and I am happy that the delish Mission eggs I tried for lunch a long time ago are now back for the brunch menu: slow-roasted carnitas, broken eggs, avocado, corn tortillas, queso fresco, and spicy green cabbage. You can get hunger pangs while scoping the menu here. Sundays 11am–2pm. 1058 Valencia St. at 21st St., 415-643-5000.
More Mission news: I think sandwiches and hot dogs are going to be neck-in-neck for the dish trend of the year. Recently opened in Tony’s Market is ~PALS’ TAKEAWAY~, serving up quality sandos. Here are some examples previously listed on their rotating menu: Vietnamese-style with grilled marinated beef, pickled carrot-daikon, cucumber, jalapeño, cilantro, and herbed canola mayo on an Acme roll ($7.25); slow-roasted Becker Lane pork shoulder with wild arugula, herbed mayo on Acme sesame Kaiser roll ($7.25); and Full Belly asparagus tossed with Meyer lemon and Reggiano, Riverdog soft-cooked ranch egg, Full Belly greens, and herbed canola mayo on Acme whole wheat seed ($6.75). There are salads, too, like farro and Massa Organics brown rice with flame radish, asparagus, parsley, chives, and rice wine vinaigrette for $3.75. Mon–Fri 10:30am–3:30pm. 2751 24th St. at Hampshire.
More sandwiches: chef Joshua Skenes, formerly the executive chef of Chez TJ in Mountain View, has created ~CARTE415~, a grab-and-go lunch cart offering sandwiches, salads, and snacks made with fresh, organic, and locally sourced products. The menu will change often, but some items include a sandwich of cava-cured salmon, fennel, red onion, and dill on ficelle; roasted lamb, vadouvan spices, chicories, yogurt dressing; and house‐made snacks including BBQ vegetable chips, Greek yogurt with rhubarb jam, and sweets, plus locally produced organic lemonades, iced teas, sodas, and Blue Bottle coffees. Salads will run $6–$8, sandwiches $8–$9, and snacks $3–$5. Everything will be packaged with 100% recyclable and compostable materials, and the cart itself consists of reused and recycled materials and will require no electricity, using alternative methods to keep the food hot or cold. CARTE415 will be open from 11:30am –2:30pm. The first cart will be in the glass atrium at 101 Second Street and will open May 4th. Additional locations will be announced in the coming months, and there will be delivery services this summer.
The Kentucky Derby is coming up, and ~PICAN~ is hosting a Bourbon and Burgoo Kentucky Derby Party at 1pm on Saturday May 2nd. Women must wear hats, and prizes will be given for best hat for the ladies and for the most dapper man for the gents. In addition to the usual fare, Pican will serve a Kentucky stew made of meats and veggies called Burgoo, plus Pican Derby Pie, and Bourbon Balls for dessert. And Mint Juleps, naturally. 2295 Broadway at 23rd St., Oakland, 510-834-1000.
Sunday May 3rd is a Pig-Out at ~COFFEE BAR~. Chef Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats will be doing a live butcher demo around 3pm, and the buffet-style dinner begins at 6pm. $35 per person ticket price includes one drink (Big Daddy IPA or Balletto pinot noir), plus chicharrones and other meat goodies, Red Wattle heritage pig roasted on the grill and the rotisserie, charred carrots, potato and leek salad, market greens, grilled spring vegetables, and bacon, peanut butter, and chocolate brownies. Coffee Bar will provide some inventive and refreshing coffee and espresso drinks and music from DJ Denizen. There will also be a video screened about a day in the life of pigs, followed by Porky's. 1890 Bryant St. at Mariposa, 415-551-8100.
There are still some seats available for the third dinner in the ~A MOVEABLE FEAST~ series to benefit CUESA on Tuesday May 5th at Picco restaurant in Larkspur. Chefs Bruce Hill, Chris Whaley, and Greg Dunmore (Ame) will create a multi-course dinner highlighting grass-fed beef and pork from David Evans of Marin Sun Farms, the guest farmer for the evening. The evening menu may include: chilled English pea soup with bone marrow crouton; lamb kibbe with zaatar flatbread, mint, and red onion; grilled beef tongue with asparagus, mizuna, and shichimi; roasted chicken breast, braised leg, egg yolk ravioli, dandelion greens, and parmesan broth; mesquite-grilled bavette steak with black trumpet mushrooms, potato, baby shallot, and wild ramp puree; and for dessert, strawberries, larded pastry crust, and caramel ice cream. Tickets can be purchased online here. $80, or $100 including wine, inclusive of tax and gratuity (a percentage of each ticket cost will benefit CUESA). 7pm. 320 Magnolia Ave. at King, Larkspur, 415-924-0300.
The fourth dinner in the series will be held at Spruce restaurant on Tuesday June 2nd with chef Mark Sullivan of Spruce and Loretta Keller of Coco500 and The Moss Room, with guest farmer Kristie Knoll of Knoll Farms.
It’s time to take stock of your cooking skills with the latest series of classes at La Cocina, a ~THREE-PART SERIES ON STOCKS, SOUPS AND SAUCES~. On May 7th (6pm–7:30pm) the class will focus on stocks; May 21st (6pm–8pm) is all about soup; and the last class on June 4th (6pm–8pm) will cover the more complex world of sauces. Free for La Cocina program participants. $20/class for partner organizations, $40 for one class, $100 for the series for the general public. Buy tickets here. 2948 Folsom St. at 25th St., 415-824-2729, ext. 303.
~BURMA SUPERSTAR OAKLAND~ has opened in the old Horseshoe spot on Telegraph. The menu is similar to the San Francisco location, and includes the tea leaf salad, rainbow salad, samusa soup, and their spiciest dish, the chili lamb. Seating is for about 50 people, but is much roomier than the SF location. Hours are Sun, and Tue–Thu 11am–3:30pm and 5pm–9:30pm, Fri–Sat 11am–3:30pm and 5pm–10pm. 4721 Telegraph Ave. at 47th St., Oakland, 510-652-2900.
In next week’s issue: details on Bar Crudo (slated to open May 8th), flour + water (opening for dinner on May 15th), and Schmidt’s Deli (opening next week).
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