Posts for April 9, 2012

Tonga Room Hosts MC Hammer’s Birthday, and Willie Brown Was There

Two of these people were not at the party.

Local former rap star MC Hammer, who's lately been more of a Twitter pundit with over 2 million followers, had a birthday party for 300 guests at the Tonga Room last week, and Willie Brown appears to have stopped by. He describes a crowd in which "Half of them were in white suits, white ties and white shoes, which apparently is a Hammer thing." Also, in straining to understand why Hammer is still famous, Brown remarks that his Twitter fame, with all his music recommendations, has made him like "an Internet version of that old Saturday morning dance program, 'Soul Train.'" [Chron]

Step Inside Burritt Tavern, Opening Tonight

Earlier today we showed you the menu, now check out the space at the brand new Burritt Room + Tavern, inside the newly named Mystic Hotel at 417 Stockton Street. Back in the days before the Stockton Tunnel was built, the second-floor space in the hotel housed a ballroom and possibly a bar as well, and the lobby was up on the third floor where people entered from Burritt Alley, off of Bush. The 100-year-old building was there when Dashiell Hammett wrote The Maltese Falcon, in which a murder takes place in Burritt Alley.

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Charles Phan’s New Cookbook Goes On (Pre-)Sale

It's due on shelves in late September.Photo: Amazon

Slanted Door chef and burgeoning restaurant-empire owner Charles Phan has a pair of new cookbooks coming out from Ten Speed Press, the first of which gets released this September and is now available for pre-order on Amazon. It's called Vietnamese Home Cooking, and it focuses on classic Vietnamese dishes, organized by technique, with a couple of Slanted Door's signatures in there including Phan's famed Shaking Beef. As Jessica Battilana, who helped Phan with the writing and recipe testing tells us, the thrust of this book is "really just to get people to cook Vietnamese food at home, to master these techniques and to familiarize themselves with the flavor profiles that are so integral to Vietnamese food." Meanwhile, Phan is working on a second book, due out at a later date, which will be the official Slanted Door Cookbook. [Grub Street]

Michael Bauer Not Especially Impressed With Per Diem

The interior of Per Diem, which Bauer calls "stunning."

Interestingly, despite the place being filled with "shouting," "high-fiving" Financial District types, Mr. Bauer calls the interior of Per Diem (43 Sutter Street) "stunning" and "unmitigatedly chic." We think he decided to exaggerate his praise of this aspect to make up for the fact that he kind of hated the food, at least the inconsistency of it — he calls chef Adam Hinojosa's mussels "exceptional" and his shrimp cocktail and bucatini with pork ragout are both pretty good as well. But he cites some terrible service, a few downright bad or overcooked dishes (panzanella salad, chicken, a blue-cheese lasagnette with chicken), and some too-warm red wine as reasons for his overall rating of one and a half stars. [Chron]

Reminder: LihoLiho Yacht Club Tonight

We showed you the new menu last week, and we'd just like to remind you that Ravi Kapur kicks off another three-week (at least) stint at Citizen's Band with his Monday pop-up, LihoLiho Yacht Club. Kapur just tweeted that tables are all full until 9:30, but there are a few late ones left, and the counter is, as always, reserved for walk-ins. [LihoLihoClub/Twitter, Earlier slideshow]

Fork Café Opens Today in the Castro, Complete With Rainbow Stained Glass

Fork Café's unfortunate rainbow stained glass.Photo: J. Barmann/Grub Street

They had originally announced an opening in Fall 2011, but Fork Café (469 Castro Street) didn't quite hit that timeframe, and after some construction delays, etc., they open for business today in the former Fuzio space. Fortunately, the owner of the place knows what he's doing, and also co-owns nearby Sit & Spin, a laundromat with an attached café, and Burger Urge in the Haight. Unfortunately, like the tagline for Burger Urge, he seems to have made a slightly unfortunate choice here as well, with the décor: a bit of rainbow stained glass at the front entrance. Because the Castro is gay, get it? And gay people like the rainbow flag motif on everything!

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Red Lobster Builds World’s Biggest Lobster Farm to Raise Things That Aren’t Really Lobsters

The less attractive spiny or rock lobster.Photo: Ed Bierman/Flickr

Darden Restaurants, the company that owns Red Lobster and Olive Garden, among other chains, recently announced plans for the world's largest lobster aquafarm in Malaysia. But here's the thing: They can't raise Maine lobsters down there, only those spiny, clawless "rock lobsters" that most chefs would tell you aren't really lobsters at all, and only have tail meat anyway. So maybe Red Lobster might want to take that big-clawed Maine lobster out of their logo and replace it with one of these ugly things sometime soon?

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Regarding the Fancy Snacks at Mission Bowling Club

The fennel-sausage corn dog ($7).

Did you know that if you order a corn dog at Mission Bowling Club it arrives on its own custom stand, protruding diagonally off of a wooden board with a dollop of habanero crema dipping sauce underneath, "like a dish you’d find at Alinea"? Also, in a nod to the haute-within-reach aesthetic pioneered at Mission Street Food, it's made with artisanal fennel sausage instead of a hot dog, and comes with a crisp cornmeal and hominy crust. And according to Food GPS, Anthony Myint's Mission Burger is as great and juicy as ever; the "everything pretzel" is good but missing garlic and salt; and there's a rather refined buttermilk panna cotta for dessert that's garnished with fresh herbs, chamomile brittle, and mint oil. So, yeah, not your grandpa's bowling alley. [Food GPS]

Local Egg Inspectors Find Some Gross Ones In Chinatown

San Francisco has two state-funded agriculture inspectors whose main responsibility is touring the city and inspecting our eggs, in every grocery store and wholesale outlet that sells them. Mostly they're checking for sell-by dates and examining them for cracks and quality, but also they're trying to protect us from Salmonella by tossing out boxes of filthy eggs covered in manure, feathers, blood, and whathaveyou like they found in a number of unlabeled boxes in a Chinatown market last week. (The Chron, you see, published a little piece about the inspectors in the Easter edition of the paper. And the offending store was Produce Land on Clay Street, by the way.) [Chron]

The Complete History of the Life and Crimes of Pink Slime

It's the end of an era.Photo: Francois Nascimbeni/Getty Images

Pink slime — the fusion of ammonia and fit-for-dogs beef scraps — might be the latest cause among good-food crusaders, but it's been around for a while. Today, Food Safety News drops a comprehensive 30-year timeline that reveals the history behind lean beef trimmings: the long relationship with BPI, the stuff's celebrity inventor, and the strident defenders of all things pink and/or slimy.

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What to Eat at Burritt Tavern, Opening Tonight

The new Burritt Tavern, behind the Burritt Room at the newly renamed Mystic Hotel.Photo: Joey DeRuy

Tonight marks the debut of celebrity chef and restaurateur Charlie Palmer's first foray into San Francisco, the Burritt Room + Tavern (417 Stockton Street), which we broke news of last month. Many of you were likely familiar already with the Burritt Room, following its opening as a fancy cocktail bar near the base of the Stockton Tunnel in 2010. Late last year, Palmer and his development team swooped in to snag the entire hotel property, renaming it the Mystic Hotel and setting about renovating an unused ballroom space on the same floor as the bar to turn it into a restaurant.

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In England, People Divorce Over Cold Cuts and Tuna

Here in the United States, people do tawdry things like trade cheeseburgers for sex. Meanwhile, over in England, food is more divisive: Couples are legally allowed to divorce over seemingly petty nuisances like cold cuts.

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Five Guys Forcing McDonald’s to Pretend Their Food Is High Quality

Okay, yes, the fries are really good.

Here's something you might not know: McDonald's employs a "director of sensory science." (We wonder what her senses would tell her about the bathroom at the McD's on First Avenue in the East Village.) You see, now that chains like Five Guys and Smashburger are making people realize that fast-food burgers don't necessarily have to taste like burnt tar, McDonald's is, according to Bloomberg, "being forced to open up about the provenance of its beef, potatoes and more." Which isn't necessarily a great thing when you're a giant company focused on making and selling your food as cheaply as possible.

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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