November 19, 2007

November 19, 2007

BIG news over in Ghirardelli Square: the deal has been finalized for ~GARY DANKO’S NEXT RESTAURANT~, slated to open in June. I can’t mention the name yet because of some trademark legalities in the mix, but for now it looks like it will be a 200-seat space offering a casual brasserie-style of dining. The space is 7,000 square feet, with big beams and brick walls, and is being designed from scratch. Danko is currently in Austria, so more details will be revealed in coming weeks.

Had a chance to hit the opening party of ~BAR JULES~ on Sunday night. This newest addition to Hayes Valley is a sweet little restaurant that moved into the former Don't Call It Frisco Laundromat space, right next door to Suppenkuche. The owner is Jessica Boncutter, whose background includes time at Zuni, and she opened Hog Island Oyster Company at the Ferry Building Marketplace. Even April Bloomfield of New York’s Michelin-starred Spotted Pig was in town for the opening—they met when Jessica staged at London’s River Café. Also in the kitchen is Carol Bever, Boncutter’s mentor, whom she met at Zuni five years ago, and has been in the Zuni kitchen for 20 years. Her mom helped fund the restaurant, and it’s named after Boncutter’s ten-year-old Bassett Hound.

The menu is inspired from some European and Latin America travels, featuring organic and sustainable ingredients. A peek at the test dinner menu included escarole hearts with fennel, pomegranate, and a Parmesan salad ($9), and yellow fin tuna with vegetables and an anchovy lemon sauce ($26). Blue Bottle French press coffee was also listed. The menu is designed to be limited and highlight what’s fresh and in season, so don’t expect ten choices for your appetizer. The walls are painted in bright robin’s egg blue and an olive drab/mustard color, with walnut tables and flooring that are all made from the same tree from the Central Valley. There are classic bistro-style woven chairs and bar stools direct from Paris, with a display of olive branches at the bar that overlooks the open kitchen. The vibe is modern and a bit sparse but personal. Bar Jules opens next Tuesday, and will be open Tue–Sat for dinner, and Sun for brunch (running late into the day), with plans to open for lunch in January 2008. Since it’s closed Sunday night, it will make a great space for private events. 609 Hayes St. at Laguna, 415-621-5482.

I heard some word about what’s opening in the new development across from Tsunami Sushi and Sake Bar: it will be ~CANDYSPACE~, a combination sweets and wine concept, featuring local art. If anyone knows how to get in touch with the owner (his name is Tan?), please send him my way! I’m not having much luck tracking him down. 1335 Fulton St. at Divisadero.

Sadly ~POWELL’S PLACE~ served its last fried chicken wing last week. Emmit Powell couldn’t keep up with the hefty rent, and now eight months behind, he is being evicted. Numerous community representatives, plus the NAACP, are rallying to see what can be done to save this San Francisco soul food institution—The Fillmore Center, the owner of the building, rejected a last-minute offer. I hope we hear some good news soon. 1521 Eddy St. at Fillmore, 415-409-1388.

Cocktailians, you’ll find ~CAMBER LAY~ picking up a few shifts at Tres Agaves through the holidays, and I will let you know where else she turns up.

Kurt Niver, a well-known GM who has worked at places all over town (including Butterfly, Cortez, Postrio and Perry’s), is taking over the ~MAGNET LOUNGE~ space in North Beach at Grant and Green. Niver will be mostly leaving things as is from now through the holidays (well, he is going to make things a little more wine-friendly and add some vinos to the mix), but look for actual changes in ’08, like a new paint job, potentially a new name, and maybe even some bar bites. Swing by and wish him congrats on his new digs—he just took early possession this past week. 1402 Grant Ave. at Green.

Random news bit: some folks have been wondering what is going on at ~BUCA DI BEPPO~, which has been under construction for a while. No, nothing new is moving in. The ten-year-old place now has a brand new kitchen, with fresh plumbing, and other things have been freshened up. Opens in time for (last resort?) holiday parties on December 1. 855 Howard St. at 4th St., 415-543-7673.

Everyone is in place at ~CAMPTON PLACE~. The new executive sous chef de cuisine, Srijith Gopinath, has arrived from the Taj Exotica Resort Maldives; he is working with executive chef Gavin Schmidt, who was promoted a few months ago from sous chef. Look for some Mediterranean influences with French execution on a menu rich with local ingredients. You’ll also find Richard Dean, master sommelier, who came over from Silk’s and is on the floor nearly every night of the week. 340 Stockton St. at Sutter, 415-955-5555.

More on the basket-toting and hat-sporting ~MS. WATERS~: I was told she will also be signing her new book, The Art of Simple Food, at The Gardener stores on Saturday, November 24. There will be copies available for purchase, and only after purchase will she sign ‘em. She'll be at the Ferry Building location from 11am–1pm, and then at the Berkeley store from 3pm–5pm. For more information, call Mon–Fri 9am–5pm 888-509-8484.

A little more detail on what is moving into the former ~KAPE~ café space: the window says, “coming soon Caffe d’Amore.” So, Italian coffee is in the neighborhood’s future. I’ll share whatever I hear when I learn more. 3463 16th St. between Dehon and Sharon.

Over in North Beach, a big project is moving into an even bigger space: the former Rossi Market is being transformed into ~PIAZZA MARKET~, a grocery store that will also offer food for take-out, catering, and there will also be a casual dining area for self-service dining. Diners can choose from a number of hot and cold buffet-like stations, serving items like pastas and salads, plus dishes like stuffed bell peppers—everything will rotate daily from an overall list of 300 items. There will also be a large array of specialty foods, and a wine shop featuring Italian and Californian wines. Behind the project is Sal Chiavino, who has been a partner in Pier 39’s Swiss Louis since 1966, and Wines of California. His partner in Piazza Market is Tiffany Pisoni. Look for a January opening. Hours will be 11am–10pm. 627 Vallejo St. at Columbus.

Lastly, you know that new ~FRAUDULENT EVENT BOOKING SCAM~ I mentioned last week? Well, I’m glad I mentioned it, because it helped avert a potential scamming of a tablehopper reader, check it out:

“I read about the whole fraud thing in the hopper last week and wanted to let you know we were the victims of fraud this week. Someone who said they were from Sun Microsystems called us to say that she wanted to book an event. Then she said that she said the money was going to be wired to us so we gave our bank account and routing number. The person that was wiring us the money was from the U.K. And whoever it was, was pretending to be a person who actually exists at Sun. Because of what we read in the hopper, we put it together and froze our account in time before any money was drawn from it. So thanks.”

It’s the holiday season, so be careful with those event bookings out there.