April 20, 2010

April 20, 2010

Flickr photo by Jonn.Gordon.

~DELFINA~ owners Craig and Anne Stoll were trying to keep their new location under their hat, but news has a way of getting out, so let’s just talk about it. If everything goes according to plan, they will be taking over Ramblas on Valencia, and will be launching a Roman restaurant. They plan to make their own pastas, offering a larger list since they’ll have room for two pasta cookers and an extruder. There will be a full bar, and they will be able to do larger parties—they envision it to be a more lively restaurant. Anthony Strong, who has been with Delfina for five years, will be heading up the kitchen, and Brandon Wells (who has been working for Delfina for four years) will move up and oversee both pizzerias. You can read more in Craig Stoll’s interview with 7x7 here, which mentions the restaurant’s working name of “Locanda” (or “Locanda something-something”).


Flickr photo from that guy 252.

I received this email from a former AQUA employee: “AQUA (and fine dining in general) may have fallen out of favor as of late, but I wanted to point you to a sort of tribute site that I put together using some of the more than two thousand pictures that I took while I worked there. It’s set up as a blog and I put up new posts when I’ve gotten enough pictures into a theme.”

“Seeing as the restaurant never put out a book or cookbook during its nineteen years of service, I thought that it might be cool to sort of make one on the web—where everyone can have access to it and contribute to it. I think it’s important to do whatever possible to preserve its legacy.” (You can read more about contributing to “My Life AQUA-tic” here.)

Although May 1st was the expected date for the restaurant to close, AQUA actually closed this Sunday the 18th.

It is the end of an era…

The Mina Group will take over the lease at 252 California Street on May 1st, but there’s nothing released yet about the next concept, name, or timing. There have been rumblings about MICHAEL MINA closing at The Westin (rumors have circulated about that for months), but according to an official statement, “Although the Mina Group will take over the new location, the plan is to continue to operate restaurants at both locations; its flagship venue at The Westin St. Francis and the 252 California Street. ‘We have every intention of operating restaurants at both addresses,’ stated Chef Michael Mina. ‘Having both locations gives us the opportunity to consider a range of creative options to better accommodate our guests and dining trends in San Francisco.’”

I had a chance to catch up with chef Chad Newton, who had his last day at ~FISH & FARM~ on April 17th. Owners Frank Klein and John Duggan sold the restaurant, and Newton is now going to be working with Frank Klein on two ventures: American Box, the box lunch program they started at Fish & Farm, and Parcel BBQ, which, according to Newton, is going to be all about “meat on brown butcher paper that’s been slow smoked, well-sourced, and served with limited sides like slaw and potato salad, and white bread, with minimal sauce.” There will also be big red wines on tap, a root beer list, and, hopefully, late hours. They are still seeking a location for both ventures, so timing is TBD.

As for Fish & Farm, you’ll still be able to get that excellent beef-tastic burger, because taking Newton’s place is Obed Ix Yah, aka the burger king—he has worked with Newton since Baraka, and was the one grilling up all the burgers every night at Fish & Farm.


Well, the rumors I heard about the partners of ~FLOUR + WATER~ (David White, David Steele, chef Thomas McNaughton) doing something in the new Southern Exposure building proved to be true. The expansion includes Central Kitchen (a sort of commissary-meets-culinary events space); The Dining Hall at Central Kitchen, open five nights a week for two seatings at communal tables, with the intention to host guest chefs and serve brunch; a deli/market tentatively named Salumeria that will feature cured meats, fresh pasta by the pound, a cheese program of local and international options, oils, and sandwiches; and a catering operation. They are targeting spring of 2011. 3030 20th St. at Alabama.

While having drinks (yes, plural) at 15 Romolo last week, a North Beach local told me ~MANGAROSA~ was closing soon. Sure enough, their website says their last day will be April 23rd. (You can read owners Marcelo and Gina Betti’s farewell note on their website.) According to the letter, the landlord is opening a new project in the space.

Some readers also wrote in to say the ~ON THE CORNER~ café on Divisadero and Oak has closed. And whaddya know, the number is disconnected.

Meanwhile, ~TRADER VIC’S EMERYVILLE~ has announced a temporary closure from April 30th until September of this year so they can revamp and revitalize the location. They will be posting updates and sneak peeks of the progress throughout the temporary closure on their Facebook fan page. The press release also states, “Check the Facebook fan page daily as they will be running a week’s worth of too-good-to-be-true specials from April 25th-April 29th as a special thank you to their loyal customers.”


Photo from Arlequin.

Starting Saturday May 1st, Luis Villavelazquez, the pastry chef of ~ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR~ and Arlequin Café, will be offering riffs on bakery classics at the new Arlequin Booth at the Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. (You may have sampled his wares already at the Thursday market.)

Items on the spring menu will include a S’mores cupcake with graham flour cake, chocolate cake, and toasted marshmallows; a malted cupcake with banana cream and Oreo frosting; a strawberry- and tobacco-infused scone with crème fraîche (keep that one away from the kiddies); a rhubarb-ginger scone; a spiced ramp and provolone biscuit (that sounds amazing); and signature cookies including double chocolate cherry fudge. Booth hours are going to be every Thursday and Saturday 8am-2pm, and it’s going to be located next to Blue Bottle Coffee’s exterior stand.

Good news: both ~PINKIE’S BAKERY~ and ~BENTO 415~ found a new space in SoMa, currently Ideal Café and Delicatessen. It has two kitchen spaces side-by-side, so one side will be the bakery and the other will be a restaurant. But some new changes are in store: Cheryl Burr of Pinkie’s and Chris Beerman of Bento 415 will be merging companies to form one cohesive brand.

On the bakery side, they will be executing wholesale breads and cakes, with a retail counter where people can walk in and get pastries, breads, cookies, cakes, and savories like the delicious bacon cheddar brioches and breakfast biscuit sandwiches. The bakery side will hopefully be open in mid-May, still serving Blue Bottle Coffee.  

The restaurant side of the space needs a little bit of a face-lift, so they are aiming for a June 1st opening. The restaurant will offer lunch and dinner with weekend brunch. Detailed concept is to be announced, but count on casual American fare. The new address is 1198 Folsom St. at 8th St.

A couple musical things to take note of (har): ~SHOW DOGS~ has launched Jazz Fridays, with classic jazz and modern bossa nova from local saxophonist Cyril Guiraud every Friday afternoon from 6:30pm-8:30pm. In addition to their array of dogs, you’ll also be able to order fried chicken wings, mini corn dogs, a fried chicken sandwich, and the Show Dogs cheesesteak. Oh yeah, and don’t forget their nice selection of suds.

I’ll consider this a good sign: pianist Michael Udelson is scheduled to return to ~SEASONS BAR AT FOUR SEASONS HOTEL SAN FRANCISCO~ next Wednesday April 28th. He will start playing four nights a week: Tuesday through Thursday from 5:30pm-10pm, and Fridays from 5:30pm-11pm. Michael plays everything from Mozart to Oasis to Metallica to Radiohead, and is always willing to share the spotlight with a celebrity who may be in town and staying at the Four Seasons (like Billy Joel)!


Photo courtesy of Farina.

Remember that faboo event last year, when ~FARINA~ offered their magical mandilli al pesto dish for half price for a week? Well, that lucky week has returned: it’s the Festa del Pesto, running from April 19th-28th. For ten days, you can order Farina’s signature dishes at these hard-to-resist prices: focaccia di Recco, $8; 
mandilli di seta al pesto genovese, $10; pan-seared Jon Dory filet in a Ligurian-style sauce of white wine, Italian pine nuts, cherry tomatoes, and taggiasche olives, $16; and Genovese sweet milk fritters served with citrus salad and blood orange vanilla sauce, $5. You can also buy the pesto for $15 a jar.

Speaking of the pesto, here’s “The Perfect” video I made with Chow.com about it in case you have any doubts about how utterly delicious it is, and here’s the recipe if you feel like working out your mortar and pestle at home.

~ANCHOR & HOPE~ turns two this Thursday April 22nd, and will celebrate with $2 draft beers, live music, and they’re making lobster rolls, angels on horseback, and fish and chips, in addition to their regular happy hour specials. If you want to come and stay for dinner, service kicks off at 7:30pm.

You’ll also be able to say “ahoy!” to the new chef, Peter Janiak, since chef Sarah Schafer has moved permanently to Portland for the launch of Irving Street Kitchen, the new northerly restaurant project from the Rosenthal brothers and Doug Washington. Janiak, formerly of Presidio Social Club, came on a few weeks ago. Sarah’s two sous chefs have stayed on board, and chef Peter doesn’t have any immediate plans to change the menu around, though he has given himself the task of beefing up the happy hour.

RN74DiningRoomwithMarket Board.jpg

Seating and the Market Board at RN74. Photo courtesy of RN74.

~RN74~ turns one on April 24th, and has already started the celebration by offering spontaneous $1 bottles of wine on the “Last Bottle” wine list—so when you hear that little clackity-clack sound, be sure to watch the board! And then on Saturday April 24th, Rajat Parr has selected $1 glasses of wine, available starting at 5:30pm. And from April 24th through May 24th, guests at RN74 will be entered into a drawing to win two round-trip tickets to Paris from San Francisco. Once in Paris, the lucky winners will be provided round-trip ground transportation to Burgundy, where they will be treated to a wine tasting agenda personally organized by Rajat Parr, along with overnight stays at select winery estates. (The drawing will take place on May 24th, 2010.)

Also new to RN74, there is an ongoing Sunday evening prix-fixe menu for $39 (view a sample here), plus rotating Sunday wine bottle specials (red and white) offered at $30, which guests can order with or separate from the prix-fixe menu.

Bummer, po’boys are no longer in my neighborhood: according to this tweet from ~YATS~, here’s the latest, “We are no longer doing lunches at Annie’s while we finalize a deal for our own freestanding establishment.” Apologies to the tablehoppin’ reader who headed over, expecting something good (but oh so bad for you) to eat. Meow.


Photo of the Boca from Deli Board.

Sandwich caterer ~DELI BOARD~ is now offering lunch delivery during the week for folks located in SoMa—and orders are delivered by bike! Call in your order ($20 minimum) Tue-Fri from 11am-2pm and allow 30 minutes for delivery. Pictured here is the Boca ($9) with pastrami, corned beef, brisket, muenster cheese, Board sauce, brown mustard, and pickles on a soft roll. Call 415-552-SOUP (7687).


~DIRTY DISHES~, the new street food and DJ party, returns to The Lookout in the Castro this Thursday April 22nd. This upcoming third event will be featuring The SF Soup Lady, Ninja Pie Cart, Mad4Madelines, and Pearl’s Kitchen, with DJs Gordon Gartrell and B-haul holding it down, with special guest ONE-Z, playing indie electro, dirty house, and future bass. You can read their Facebook page for more.


Next Thursday April 29th is the annual ~DINING OUT FOR LIFE~ fundraising event, when for one night, more than 3,500 restaurants around the nation donate a portion of their proceeds to the licensed organization in your area to fight HIV/AIDS. While the event is occurring in numerous cities, here’s the list of participating restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area, which includes notables like Baker & Banker, Fifth Floor, Mission Beach Café, Pizzaiolo, and others.

All restaurants listed are donating 25% of food sales, and some are donating 25% of food AND liquor sales. SKYY Vodka will also show their support by donating $1 for every Bay Area Blast cocktail sold in participating bars and restos for the STOP AIDS Project.


Get that fork ready for some twirling and those chopsticks primed for some slurping: on Sunday May 2nd is ~NOODLE FEST 2010: CHINATOWN AND NORTH BEACH, A CULTURAL AND CULINARY CELEBRATION~. This unique street fair will feature noodle and pasta dishes from over thirty restaurants from Chinatown and North Beach, all along Grant Avenue between Pacific and Vallejo Streets. There will also be live entertainment, noodle-making demonstrations by chefs, and a chance to win a grand prize raffle of two round-trip tickets from SFO to New York! For more information, click here.

Peter Schumacher of the Buckeye Roadhouse and Bungalow 44 is partnering with Mike House to open ~DISH~ in Mill Valley this May. It’s moving into a new building, and will be a family-friendly restaurant that Schumacher described as “Grove-meets-Chow.” Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be served, and the eclectic menu will include California ethnic food made with local ingredients, ranging from Italian dishes to Moroccan meatballs, from Thai soup to a Greek sandwich, and American classics like chili-cheese fries. Beer and wine will also be available. The look will be cozy, with a fireplace, reclaimed materials, and there’s an outdoor heated patio (there will be room for 55 inside, and 20 outside). It will be quick-service during the day (order at the counter), with table service at night. There will also be Wi-Fi, and Equator coffee. 507 Miller Ave., Mill Valley.


The original fried chicken sandwich (photo from Bakesale Betty).

East Bay folks have been eagerly anticipating the second location of ~BAKESALE BETTY~ opening in Oakland’s Uptown (it’s just across from Luka’s Taproom). Yup, now you’ll have two places to get your fried chicken or brisket or egg salad sandwich fix. And of course the kickass baked goods. If all goes well, the second location from owners Alison Barakat and her partner and husband, Michael Camp, will open this Thursday for a trial run. And depending on how things go, it will stay open the next day, or close for more tweaking. What this all means is follow their Facebook page for updates before you head over, with your heart pinned on a lemon bar.

As for the space, it will be a similar format to the original: no seats, just ironing boards outside, and hours (to start) are Wed-Sun 7am-3pm. But since there’s a larger kitchen area, there’s talk down the road about some expanded offerings, like wedding cakes or ice cream, and maybe even opening on first Fridays for Oakland Art Murmur, or at least later hours. Stand by. 2228 Broadway at W. Grand.


After my post last week about the latest location of Tara’s Organic Ice Cream, a tablehopper reader wrote in to let me know that ~LUSH GELATO~ in Piedmont has just opened a second location. The new location replaces Ciao Bella in the Epicurious Garden, and has double the amount of flavors to try than the first location, 24 in all. Flavors include classics, like stracciatella, and the modern, like açaí sorbet. There are also panini, espresso and coffee drinks (hello affogato), and fresh juice. You can follow flavor announcements on their Twitter feed here. Hours are Mon-Sat 11am-9pm, and Sun 11am-8pm. 1511 Shattuck Ave. at Vine, 510-666-0644.

Since I was kickin’ it in Blackhawk over the weekend, I figured some of you 925 folks would like to know about these two new restaurants on your dining horizon: ~SASA RESTAURANT~ just opened this past weekend in Walnut Creek. It’s an izakaya-style restaurant from Philip Yang (Blue Gingko) and chef de cuisine Sam Castro, along with sushi featuring fish from Tsukiji market in Japan, and a full bar, plus outdoor seating. Open for lunch and dinner. 1432 North Main St. at Bonanza, Walnut Creek, 925-210-0188.

And due to open April 28th or 29th is ~VESU RESTAURANT~ from owners Chrisopher Velez and Melisa Suitos, with chef Robert Sapirman (formerly at Parcel 104). The cuisine is described as international, global, seasonal, and local. There are 130 seats, with a full bar. Dinner to start, and hopefully lunch and outdoor seating will come at a later date. 1388 Locust St. at Cypress, Walnut Creek, 925-280-8378.