Posts for April 5, 2012

Even in the Fifties, San Francisco Was a Food-Lover’s Paradise

Kerouac in 1956, the year before On the Road was published.

Always a sensualist, Jack Kerouac frequently mentions food (and lots of drink) in his books. Today, East Bay writer Anneli Rufus points to one choice quote in particular about San Francisco eats from On the Road — which happens to be getting a new film adaptation later this year.

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Bauer Re-Reviews Hecho, Likes the Sushi Better; Kauffman Tries Out Stag Dining Group

Just as Jonathan Kauffman did the other week, Michael Bauer returns to Hecho (185 Sutter) after hearing about the hiring of master sushi chef Sachio Kojima, who's been MIA for half a decade. He opens by reiterating, "I've never quite understood the combination of sushi and Tequila at Hecho," echoing his first review of the place, which opened last year." But he has to admit the sushi is excellent now, and he also notes some tasty chicken nuggets and a "perfectly grilled hamachi collar," both of which were on the opening menu and are much the same as before, but he remarks on them now that he's warming up to the place. Overall: Two and a half stars, up from two. [Chron]

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Jean-Pierre Moullé Talks About Aging Well, Leaving Chez Panisse

"The restaurant did age really well, like me. [laughs] For a restaurant to be 40 years old, it’s something special. I’ve been a big part of that, so I’m glad and I have no regrets. I can leave assuming all those young people eager to do good and beautiful stuff are ready. That’s a good place to be." — Departing chef Jean-Pierre Moullé talking about his decision to leave Chez Panisse after 37 years. [Scoop, Earlier]

Thomas McNaughton Reveals a Few Dishes From the Central Kitchen Menu

We've still got a couple of weeks to go before the unveiling of Central Kitchen (20th and Florida), the Flour+Water spinoff featuring the talents of executive chef Thomas McNaughton and chef de cuisine Michael Gaines (formerly of Manresa). But today Eater gets a couple of dishes out of the team, revealing some of the veggie-focused, NorCal aesthetic they're going for with things like "Ramps. Whey. Peas. Fava." [Eater]

Frjtz Closing in Hayes Valley, Making Way for a Noir-ish Bar Called Noir

The flagship shall be no more.Photo: Courtesy of Frjtz

Frjtz owner Santiago Rodriguez announced today that he'll be closing one of the two locations of his Belgian frite places, the original one at 581 Hayes. He tells the Scoop he wants to concentrate on the Valencia location, and that "it was difficult to operate two restaurants." (The UC Davis-inspired pepper-spray hot sauce will clearly still be available at the Mission location.) Rodriguez has already sold the place to Brian Cassanego, who'll be opening something called Noir, with a food menu, beer and wine, and a Jazz-era, noir-ish vibe. Look for Frjtz to shutter at the end of the month. [Scoop]

McDonald’s Mega Millions ‘Winner’ Possibly Nuts, Can’t Find Ticket

Mirlande Wilson, the Baltimore McDonald's employee who went in on a Mega Millions lottery pool with some coworkers, only to claim that a winning ticket was hers and hers alone, may just be an attention whore, or she may be outright nuts and a total liar. What's clear from the weird press conference she went silent for yesterday is that (a) she's a fan of tight T-shirts, and (b) her lawyer hasn't even seen the ticket in question, and she says she can't find it. Below, some footage.

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More Details on Hopscotch, Opening in Oakland’s Uptown

They're aiming for a May opening.

Grub Street broke the news a few weeks back about Hopscotch (1915 San Pablo Avenue), a new restaurant on its way to Oakland from former Yoshi's cook Kyle Itani, who more recently has been working at the Meatball Shop in in New York. Today we get the official release from the team, which also includes partner Jenny Schwarz, which details some more about the restaurant, which sounds like a cool amalgam of California bistro fare with Japanese influences both in the food and service.

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Researcher: Food Is More Addictive Than Crack Cocaine

Crack pie!Photo: Hannah Whitaker

Ever felt ready for rehab after one too many late-night nacho platters? Of course you have. Well, now Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, has arrived on the scene to confirm what we long suspected is true: Food is addictive. Like, more addictive than crack.

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Twenty Five Lusk Gets Another Design Honor

The design was by local architect Cass Calder Smith.Photo: Courtesy of Twenty Five Lusk

As you probably know by now, Twenty Five Lusk is a snazzy place. Very few restaurants opened in the last decade in San Francisco, in fact, have invested so much in their design, and this place is a good example of why local restaurateurs should take a cue from New York and L.A. and not skimp on their architecture. They just got yet another piece of national press, this time as part of a dozen new restaurant from around the world honored for having the best design, according to Architectural Digest — and they're only one of four in the U.S., the others being Isa and Brushstroke in New York, and the Pump Room in Chicago. [Architectural Digest]

Gold Dust Lounge Saga Update: Historic Preservation Commission Denies Landmark Status

Gold Dust: Not quite saved, yet.

As was expected, the Historic Preservation Commission yesterday voted not to give landmark designation to the Gold Dust Lounge, the Union Square saloon which has been a continuously operating saloon since 1918, when it began as the Techau Tavern. However, as mentioned earlier, Supervisor Christine Olague has stepped in with her support, and it's looking like she'll be introducing legislation to landmark the bar on Tuesday, which would override the Historic Preservation Commission if it passes.

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Watch Curtis Duffy Make America’s Next Great Restaurant, Grace

As Grant Achatz's number two, Curtis Duffy helped design Alinea. When Graham Elliot Bowles left Avenues, Duffy stepped into his shoes — and won two Michelin stars. Now, Duffy is building one of the most anticipated restaurants in the country, Grace, on Chicago's hot Randolph Street dining strip. Duffy is aiming for world class when Grace opens later this year — and Grub Street invites you to come along. In our new video series, Finding Grace: The Making of a Restaurant, we'll watch as Duffy and his team work out every detail that goes into a restaurant of this caliber — as it happens in real time. In this first seven-minute episode, "Space," Duffy and architect Christopher Lawton walk us through the raw, empty space that will become Grace, explaining how they will create the environment that they want guests to experience — and why it's so important to Duffy to create a restaurant as good as any in the world.

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Paul Canales’s Oakland Project Gets a Name: Duende

The other day we mentioned a few more details about Paul Canales's upcoming project in the Floral Depot Building in Oakland's Uptown, and today the Chron comes up with several more details. First off, the name: Duende. It's "a Spanish word that originally meant a fairy or goblin, but has come to define a heightened spirit of emotion." The word was also something Canales heard from his father a lot growing up, and it reflects the Spanish angle that the restaurant is going to have. Canales says that he'll be offering plates in three flexible sizes — small, medium, and large — and that the menu will reflect the Spanish melting pot of French, Italian, and African influences. Also remember this will be a "collision of spaces," with an art gallery, music venue, and wine shop all connected to the restaurant. Look for it in the late summer or early fall. [Chron, Earlier]

Nate Appleman on Hating Pulino’s, Loving Chipotle, and Embracing Change

"My son is the reason I lost weight; he's the reason I got a new job; he's the reason I get up in the morning."Photo: Nate Appleman

Let's be clear: Anyone who had a cheap little laugh when Nate Appleman — a "Best New Chef," James Beard winner, and Food Network Star — transformed himself from a culinary warrior to a Chipotle cook is an idiot. "It was the best decision of my life," he told Grub, without one kernel of confliction, last night at the Smart Chefs Stay Slim party inside Chelsea Market.

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Kosher (Sausage) for Passover

Sausage, in all its porky goodness, has not generally been part of a Kosher diet — until now. The Daily News has the story on a pair of Crown Heights entrepreneurs who've rolled out Jack's Gourmet Spicy Southwestern and Beef Kielbasa links — available in ShopRite chains and Kosher grocery stores nationwide — just in time for Passover. "Never in the history of Passover have Jews had sausage," claims co-creator Jack Silberstein. Pair it with the holiday's traditional brisket and you're two thirds of the way to a barbecue platter; just skip the side of bread. Happy Passover, y'all. [NYDN]

Back on the Ranch?

Say hello to "the new ketchup."

Grub Street has known folks who like ranch dressing on French fries, and even a few renegades who enjoy it on pizza — but now Hidden Valley wants ranch's reach to extend beyond salad and bar food. The company has rolled out a new product dubbed Ranch Dressing for Everything; not exactly subtle, a blurb on the bottle also proclaims it "the New Ketchup." Never mind that creamy salad dressing is generally mayo-based, execs want this stuff on every restaurant table, refrigeration be damned. Somebody alert the kid critic — he'll probably be all over this. Also, as long as we're expanding our condiment repertoire, can we get some Maggi as well? [WSJ]

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