Posts for April 16, 2012

Michael Bauer Loves La Posta and Au Midi in Santa Cruz

In lieu of a full-length review this week (since he's actually on vacation), Mr. Bauer filed a set of mini-reviews of Santa Cruz restaurants as part of a special issue of the Chron devoted to the region. He says that if there were only one place he could eat down there, it would be La Posta, and wouldn't you know, they serve pizza! Also, he's a fan of tiny Au Midi in Aptos, and the Crow's Nest, overlooking Monterey Bay, which has been there since 1969. And, there's a separate piece by Maria Guara about the switchover to Le Cigare Volant at Bonny Doon, in which new chef Ryan Shelton says he wants to "provide the sense of whimsy and wonder, the element of fun and magic, that goes along with the whole Flying Cigar theme." [Chron]

Join a Discussion About S.F.’s Worst-Named Restaurants

Over at SFist today there's a lively discussion brewing among commenters about the worst restaurant names in the city. So far, nominees include Hung Phat Bakery, What's Up Dog?, Curry Boyzz (always a favorite of ours), Squat and Gobble, and Heaven's Dog. Any more suggestions, friends? [SFist]

Café Gratitude May In Fact Be Closing Its S.F. Location

You'll recall the kerfuffle of last fall surrounding the earnest owners of Café Gratitude who got sued by a couple of former employees over the sketchy tip-sharing practices and other policies that fall under the umbrella of what they call "sacred commerce." In January we learned that the owners, Terces and Matthew Engelhart, had settled out of court with the plaintiffs for an undisclosed sum, and they backed off their initial announcement that they'd be closing all of their Northern California restaurants, saying instead that a few of them would remain open, including the original Berkeley location, and the popular vegan Mexican spinoff Gracias Madre in the Mission. Now Grub Street learns that their 2400 Harrison Street location in S.F. is definitely on the market, and is being shopped around to potential buyers, though it remains open for now.

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What You Missed at Pebble Beach Food & Wine, 2012 Edition

This past weekend, a legion of celebrity chefs, sommeliers, winemakers, well-heeled foodinistas, food writers, and various hangers-on descended on Carmel for the fifth annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine. In case you've never been, or drooled over slideshows from previous years, it's a dressed-up tasting-tent affair with big-name sponsors like Lexus and Stella Artois, and lots and lots of wine. Also, there are seminars with plenty of wine, and dinners at which buckets of wine are served. Then there are after-parties with vodka, and even more wine.

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Bushi-Tei Closing in Two Weeks

As predicted, Bushi-Tei (1638 Post) will be closing as of April 30 according to an email from owner Takumi Matsuba. The restaurant went up for sale at the beginning of February and we were pretty sure it would be closing shortly when chef Michael Hung immediately took his leave (he'll be popping up on April 30 at Jardinière, by the way). Stay tuned for whatever might follow for the space, from some unnamed new owners. [Eater, Earlier]

Food Network Launching OpenTable Competitor in Philly

Arrgghh… no tables available until 9:45!?!?!Photo: iStockphoto

If the Food Network gets its way, it soon could give online reservation juggernaut OpenTable a run for its money. In efforts to combat dwindling viewership on all its lifestyle networks, parent company Scripps Network Interactive Inc. has given rise to CityEats, a restaurant-reservation service similar to de facto industry standard OpenTable. It’s now up and running in Philadelphia and Washington D.C. with more than 130 restaurants onboard, according to the Wall Street Journal. While that’s a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the 17,000 restaurants that OpenTable’s amassed since first launching in 1998, Scripps is planning an aggressive strategy to muscle into the online-reservation market.

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America Finally Getting Bored With Chicken Breast, Loading Up on Dark Meat Instead

Drumsticks: all the rage.

Time to find more thighs! There's been a run on dark meat at the nation's grocery stores lately, and America's poultry producers are still playing catch-up with the trend, the Wall Street Journal reports today. Apparently, people have been taking their cues from Food Network chefs who've been regularly eschewing boring breast meat for more flavorful legs and thighs, driving up the price of boneless thighs to be in line with breasts for the first time, averaging about $1.30 per pound, after costing about half as much just a few years ago.

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Trimming the Fat: In Defense of Dumping Food-Averse Friends

Do not get stuck eating with these people.Photo: iStockphoto

To paraphrase something food artist Jennifer Rubell once said, we all have a finite number of meals left on this Earth, so we'd better make them count. Why, then, do people happily pay oodles of money to eat at middling (and sometimes downright vile) restaurants? It's their prerogative, of course, but the problem is these misguided souls will occasionally foist their bad taste on people who actually enjoy food, and put us in situations that require we waste one of those precious finite meals. This is unacceptable, and for the most part, it is okay to completely disassociate with these people forever.

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What to Eat for Dinner at Local’s Corner

Local's CornerPhoto: Michael Mroz

Local's Corner, the new spinoff of Local Mission Eatery that opened two weeks ago at 23rd and Bryant, is launching dinner service tomorrow night, April 17, as planned. We've got the full, seafood-heavy menu for you, hot off the presses from chef Jake DesVoignes, which includes stuff like squid with green garlic, fennel, and chili aioli; an oyster soup with potatoes, caviar, and Calcot onions; abalone with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, favas, and wild onion blossoms; and beef tartare with pickled garlic scapes.

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Longtime Critic Patricia Unterman Replaced at the Examiner

Patty's anonymous critic pose.

Patty Unterman, who once had Michael Bauer's job at the Chronicle before becoming the critic at the Examiner, has been abruptly removed from her position, and will be replaced by East Bay Express critic Jesse Hirsch. She tells Eater that she's relieved and it's "actually liberating" for her to be able to focus on her travel writing now, but we all know there must be a little bit of soreness there. And how will we hear about random noodle shops in the Sunset now?

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Ruth Reichl Once Called Thomas Keller ‘Really Depressed’

When life wasn't a walk in the garden.Photo: Andrew Barris

Reichl recalls over twenty years of Thomas Keller, starting with his frustrating, "really depressed" sounding existence at Rakel and Checkers, to his first days at the French Laundry, where he aspired, perhaps too grandiosely, too god-complex-y, to control the entire essence of coming to Yountville, telling a reporter in 1992, "I want to control the entire experience, not just from the minute you walk into the restaurant but from the minute you get to Yountville ... " Today, the equally committed, but perhaps more understated Keller is zoned in on his burgeoning gluten-free creations, focused on taking care of guests with all allergies — even though he doesn't remember anyone having allergies back in the day. (Right!?) Well, as he once told Grub, "I learned a long time ago that I'm a nurturer." [Gilt Taste]

Those Empanadas Are Made of People

Good luck ever enjoying these again.

Gives a new meaning to "mystery meat": A Brazilian couple has been accused of luring women into their home via an ad for a nanny, then killing them and using their bodies to fill empanadas. The couple, plus the man's mistress (all three of whom are obsessed with "the purification of the world and the reduction of its population"), then sold these people-stuffed pastries to hapless, unsuspecting neighbors, meaning a bunch of Brazilians are now inadvertent cannibals. Ponder that over your morning coffee. [HuffPo]

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