Posts for March 12, 2012

Cuco’s Lives On, For Now; Jardinière Hosts an M.F.K. Fisher Dinner; and More

Lower Haight: Cuco's (488 Haight) remains open, at least for now. [SFoodie, Earlier]
Castro: The Chron's 49 Square Miles project hits upon the Castro, and the most iconic food-and-beverage business they find is Twin Peaks Tavern, which was the first gay bar in town to have large windows onto the street as of 1972. [Chron]
Hayes Valley: Here's a schedule of which food trucks will appear when next to Proxy in the next two months, on Wednesdays. [Local Addition]
Civic Center: Next Monday night's prix fixe at Jardinière will be a tribute to the great M.F.K. Fisher, and will feature three courses with three pairings for $59, with $10 from each meal donated to Litquake. Reserve here. [Grub Street]

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Bauer Raves About Claudine; Patty U. Loves Another Random Chinese Place


Michael Bauer is positively delighted by the food that chef Bridget Batson (Gitane) and chef de cuisine Caleb Jones are doing at Claudine (8 Claude Lane), the newish casual FiDi spot from owner Franck LeClerc (Cafe Claude, Gitane). He says he's "obsessed" with the the meatball, kale and fregola soup with a broth that's "tart, rich and clean." He also loves the salad, the roast chicken, and the New York strip surrounded by "plump king trumpet mushrooms arranged around the crisp-seared meat." The service, he says, can be a comedy of errors, and the place is a little sterile, so he gives them two and a half overall, but three stars for food. [Chron]

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Gajalee Debuts in the Mission

We broke the news a couple weeks back that the Udupi Palace folks were expanding beyond the vegetarian with a seafood-focused restaurant at 525 Valencia Street (between 16th and 17th) called Gajalee. Now, just like they promised, the place is already open, with a limited menu of thali for now, with the full menu rolling out shortly. The cuisine, as we mentioned, is focused on the Indian regions of Goa, Kerala, and Kamataka. [Eater, Earlier]

Alice Waters Sounds Sad, Surprised About Café Fanny Closure; Vaguely Hints About a Replacement

ABC 7 ran over to Berkeley Friday to cover the final day of service at 28-year-old Café Fanny, which suddenly announced Thursday that it would be closing. They got Alice Waters on camera seeming pretty blue about the whole thing, and a little flustered herself by the suddenness, but she explained, "My brother-in-law and my sister are in a different place in their lives and they can't take care of it the way that they have." The closure was as much of a surprise to the staff as it was to the rest of us, and they all only got two weeks severance. But why, we wonder, did it all happen have to happen so abruptly and without fanfare, when the Chez Panisse family usually isn't stingy with the nostalgia, or fanfare?

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A Tale of a Saturday Night at San Francisco’s Only Olive Garden

There she is. Hiding in plain sight.Photo: J. Barmann/Grub Street

We're going to bet that most of you didn't know there was an Olive Garden in San Francisco. Yes, friends, here in the capital of food snobbery, in this great foodinista haven of ours where modern Cal-Mediterranean cuisine first took root, you can indeed find a little Hospitaliano®, right over at the Stonestown Galleria. Inspired, for obvious reasons, by the marvelous reportage last week of North Dakota critic Marilyn Hagerty, Grub Street decided to accompany some friends to this Olive Garden for our own edification, on a chilly Saturday night — and honestly it wasn't terrible.

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Napa’s Perry Hoffman Beats Michael Voltaggio for People’s Best New Chef

The People's Best New Chef regional winners have been announced by Food & Wine, and remarkably, Perry Hoffman at √Čtoile in Napa beat out known quantity Michael Voltaggio for the Twitter- and blog-fueled win. Unfortunately, he didn't take the overall title — that went to Tim Byers at Smoke in Dallas — but Hoffman will be listed in the magazine as California's winner. We have a feeling Voltaggio will get an editorial nod for Best New Chef, but stay tuned for that announcement in a couple of weeks. [Food & Wine, Earlier]

Watch Sean Brock Boost South Carolina's Down-Home Locavore Movement

The Perennial Palate documents a crucial collaboration dinner between Charleston's seed-collecting, local-only chef, Sean Brock of Husk and McCrady's, and Glenn Roberts, the Southern gentleman making a splash with his own self-cultivated rice and grits at Anson Mills. Said to be responsible for a "renaissance" in down-home cooking, Roberts swings a sickle and declares "this stuff is pretty kinky," while gesturing to budding grains and noting that his hands-on work in the field is the result of "a bunch of wealthy white people who could afford to write books about what some really smart black people were doing." The two locavores bring ingredients straight from the soil to the table for a meal that includes modern cooking, complete with foams and flower petals, inspired by time-honored favorites like real corn grits and freshly yanked wheat from the prairie. Take a look below to see just what the two food-forward minds concocted together while bolstering the strengths of old-fashioned Southern cooking.

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Flavor Flav Taking Fried Chicken Empire Aspirations to Vegas This Week

It's the Flavor!

Having somehow managed to escape Elton John's dungeon, Public Enemy hype-man and hip-hop clown prince Flavor Flav is bringing his fried chicken joint to Las Vegas this week. You may recall that Flavor first sprang a place called Flavor's Fried Chicken on Iowa in early 2011, along with the surprising revelation that he holds a degree in the culinary arts. The restaurant shuttered by that April amid reports that it hadn't been kept up to Flav's meticulous standards of cleanliness and an ensuing word that the rapper was being sued by one of his partners. Whether or not that beef was ever squashed may not matter, as Flav is preparing to debut a Sin City location of the restaurant this Thursday under a new name with a new partner.

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Ever Want to Try Python? Now You Can


A Japanese yakitori called Mokutanya that opened in a Burlingame shopping plaza last fall is now vying for a little more attention by adding some unusual proteins to the menu. As Thrillist takes note, they're serving python, grilled and skewered; and kangaroo, despite the significant distance between Japan and Australia (and we're guessing it's not local!). Apart from the funny meats, it's a super traditional, sit-on-the-floor, leave-your-shoes-at-the-door kind of place. And did you know kangaroo kinda tastes like pork? We didn't. [Thrillist]

Sons & Daughters Chefs, El Paseo’s Preston Clark Among Chron’s Rising Stars

Well, it's another all-male Rising Star class ... The Chron released their twentieth annual list of local up-and-comers on Sunday, and as usual they try to reach beyond San Francisco proper and recognize budding talents at noteworthy restaurants — though once again they could not come up anyone female who made the grade. Locanda's Anthony Strong gets a nod after years working the ovens at Pizzeria Delfina and almost a year after opening Delfina's Roman spinoff. Also among the honorees is Preston Clark, the former New York chef who Tyler Florence brought in to helm El Paseo in Mill Valley. Interestingly, neither chef garnered more than two and a half stars when Bauer reviewed them last year, so they may have been kind of surprised by the honor.

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Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant to Shutter, Possibly Relocate

The Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant at Embarcadero and Harrison is set to let its lease go after the end of April, as the Scoop reports, after twenty years in that location. It was only the third Gordon Biersch to open, and the chain now boasts 34 locations nationwide. The company says they're looking for a new S.F. location, and we're curious if this announcement might not be part of a lease renegotiation with the Hills Brothers Coffee building. In any event, as of now, you should get your $5 happy-hour fun in while it lasts; they're scheduled to close April 28 and the 10,000-square-foot space is up for grabs. [Scoop]

Another Chef Shuffle at Spruce

The dining room and bar at Spruce in Laurel Heights.Photo: Courtesy of Spruce

About a year after Walter Abrams took over as chef de cuisine at Spruce, executive chef Mark Sullivan is replacing him with longtime sous chef John Madriaga. Madriaga has been with Bacchus Management Group for the last decade, previously at Village Pub, and also spent three years on the line at Manresa, and also did a stage at René Redzepi's Noma in Copenhagen. As of now, the menu at Spruce is not set to change. [Grub Street]

St. Patrick’s Day Without Corned Beef?; Indian Spices Lower Triglycerides

• Inspired by a pop-up in Dublin called Crackbird, here's a St. Patrick's Day menu that centers around chicken, instead of the traditional corned beef. [Chron]

• Mario Batali and partner Joseph Bastianich had to pay out $5.25 million last week in a settlement over the skimming of employee tips (which kind of makes Café Gratitude's recent legal issues sound small). Chow's John Birdsall reacts. [Chow]

• Regarding some of the better restaurants on the Peninsula. [San Carlos Patch]

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Recent reader reviews on MenuPages

  • Lucca Food Store See the menu

    “Billy's Philly”

    Billy is only there after 5 pm but if you are around go there and ask for his billy philly, the best philly you'll find this side of the Mississippi.

  • Le P'tit Laurent See the menu

    “Elegant Sauces & Fabulous Bread”

    It is the place me and my love go for every intimate moment.

  • Hidive See the menu

    “Are you kidding?”

    You have to be totally drunk to think that this is even acceptable as a public watering hole.


Jay Barmann
NY Mag