Posts for April 19, 2012

Old Skool Café, a Supperclub Run By At-Risk Youth, Opens in the Bayview

The brand new Old Skool.Photo: Courtesy of Old Skool Café

Old Skool Café (1429 Mendell Street) is fairly unique as restaurants go. The 1940s-themed supperclub and non-profit restaurant is the brainchild of Teresa Goines, and it's the result of several years of fundraising and program-building with a group of at-risk and previously incarcerated young people ages 16 to 22. The kids serve as chefs, waitstaff, and entertainers, and they're all paid for their work and meanwhile get apprenticeships in restaurant management, perfoming, and cooking. The place just officially opened for business last week, and is now open Thursday through Saturday, with dinner and a show each night. The full, a la carte menu is here.

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Josh Sens Calls Saison ‘Money Well Spent’

The chef's counter at Saison.Photo: Brian Smeets/Grub Street

Josh Sens's latest review is online, for Saison, and it's rather more than a review. He goes in for the chef's counter tasting with his wife, at the much-chattered-about price of $498 per person, and feels it's necessary to compare the expense with various other experiences one might have for a similar price. (A weekend in Tahoe is mentioned, a night with dinner and opera.) He declares that the "starchy age" of Nob Hill restaurants like Fleur de Lys and Gary Danko is over, and that even in this "scruffy" part of the Mission one can be "exhilarated by the cooking" and have both a stellar meal and "front row seats to a culinary show."

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Comedian Maria Bamford: Paula Deen’s Recipes ‘Are Like a Suicide Note’

Los Angeles–based comedian Maria Bamford has some fresh material about Paula Deen in which she says she's "worried" about the famously diabetic celebrity chef, and that her recipes read like an elaborate, fudge-covered suicide note. We've got to hand it to Bamford for still managing to make us laugh as she mocks the over-mocked Deen in a style that can only be described as ... unique. Check it out, straight ahead.

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Another Food Media Shakeup: Jonathan Kauffman Resigns From SF Weekly, Heads to Tasting Table

We still don't know what he looks like.Photo: *eddie/Flickr

It's been a big week of local food media shakeups, with the news of longtime critic Patricia Unterman's dismissal at the Examiner (she's being replaced by East Bay Express critic Jesse Hirsch), followed by news that Marcia Gagliardi of Tablehopper fame would be the new contributing food editor at 7x7. Now today comes the big news that Jonathan Kauffman is leaving his post of two years as critic for SF Weekly, moving on to edit daily food newsletter Tasting Table — a position most recently held by Jessica Battilana, who is being promoted to a new role at the company. Kauffman has been an anonymous critic for the last thirteen years, first for the East Bay Express and then at Seattle Weekly, where he garnered some national awards.

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100-Plus-Year-Old Chinatown Restaurant, Home of Famed Rude Waiter, to Close This Weekend

Fong, not looking rude, partying with patrons in 1982.Photo: Ken Gammage/Wikimedia

Sam Wo, which by some accounts opened in its current location at 813 Washington Street in 1907 but may have opened ten years prior, is closing after service on Friday. The owner, David Ho, tells the Scoop his reasons: "Too old. Everything’s too old. The building is too old. It’s very sad." Sam Wo was the legendary home of "the world's rudest waiter," Edsel Ford Fong, made famous in part because the restaurant was also a hangout of the Beats. Fong, who died in 1984, was immortalized as a recurring character in Armistead Maupin's series of Tales of the City novels, a character later featured in the BBC mini-series based on the novels.

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Starbucks Vows No More Bugs in Bevs

No longer in your frappuccino.

In response to a petition started on, and in a shocking rebuff to insectivores everywhere, Starbucks announces they will no longer use cochineal coloring derived from crushed bugs in their drinks.

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The Eagle, Scrubbed Of Its Leather and License Plates, Up for Lease

This photo is making many people sad.Photo: CJ Gibson

Many in the LGBT community lamented the closing of The Eagle Tavern last spring. The legendary, decades-old leather bar and Sunday beer-bust venue became the subject of some inflammatory reports that the property owners had tried to push the gay bar out in order to bring a straight bar in, a rumor which did not turn out to hold water. Now the Chron reports that the SoMa bar is up for lease for $15,000/month, and Grub Street finds this photo of the bar in the process of a sterile-looking remodel, stripped of its former character which included old license plates on the walls, dim lights, and a pool table at the rear. Reactions to the photo on Facebook have ranged from "I think i just puked a little," to "My memories have been raped by a poorly designed condo kitchen."

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Richmond District’s Raucous Rockit Room Stops the Music, Will Rebrand

Not rockin' it at the moment.Photo: Fallopian Swim Team D./Yelp

The Rockit Room (406 Clement Street), which has been a music venue and bar since the early 70s, has become a bit of a nuisance for its Richmond District neighbors, not to mention the site of a string of violent incidents that caught the attention of the Entertainment Commission in the last six months. Between October and March police responded to dozens of fights and reports of violence, including one night when over 100 patrons spilled into the street during a fight. Now, under threat of a possible forced suspension of their entertainment permit, the club has voluntarily suspended operation of the music-venue portion of the business for one month in order to "rebrand and reprogram," as the Examiner reports. But will the fresh start change anything about the crowds this place attracts?

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FDA Targets Two California Seafood Producers Over Toxic Finds

Following this week's news that seafood is being majorly mislabeled in L.A. and a national scandal over salmonella-spreading "tuna scrape" that lead to a recall of 59,000 pounds of tuna, it's clear there's something really (wait for it) fishy going on in the world of U.S. seafood. HuffPo reports on a third seafood shocker issuing from Davy Jones' locker, with news that The FDA is looking to close down two California fish processors, Blue Ocean Smokehouse in Half Moon Bay and Yamaya in Torrance, over discoveries of products at both plants containing toxins that cause botulism and listeriosis.

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Gang of Three-Year-Olds ‘Storms’ El Paseo

Dorothy and Dad.

A band of seventeen three-year-olds, all part of young Dorothy Florence's pre-kindergarten class, descended on El Paseo in Mill Valley yesterday for an afternoon of restaurant education, and the wearing of chef's toques. Tyler Florence tweets an adorable photo today as evidence. Aww. Cue a few verses of "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Chefs." [TylerFlorence/Twitter]

New Kids’ Book Says Veganism Is Patriotic, Rugged

Let's be serious: Nobody's asking kids to eat zebras.Photo: ABC

Ruby Roth's kids' book Vegan Is Love appears fun and innocent — just look at those happy, Lion King-esque animals on the cover! Indeed, per ABC, Roth says the book is meant to introduce kids to a lifestyle of "compassion and action" and that "veganism is one of the most patriotic, American things we can do." But others — no doubt parents with kids who really love ice cream and hot dogs — have their doubts.

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Another Chef Shuffle at Prospect, as Team Hires Chris L’Hommedieu


In somewhat of a surprise move for Nancy Oakes, Pamela Mazzola and the Boulevard/Prospect team, there's a new executive chef taking the helm at Prospect this week: Chris L'Hommedieu. L'Hommedieu has been working for the Michael Mina Group for a number of years, and previously worked under Thomas Keller and the great Alain Ducasse. The news follows on the departure, last summer, of opening chef Ravi Kapur, and the subsequent, well-reviewed tenure of Mazzola. The self-taught Oakes tells the Chron she's "ready to learn" from L'Hommedieu, who'll be staying true to the aesthetic of the restaurant, which is essentially a more modern version of Boulevard. But Oakes says his is "a different style than any of us are used to," which will likely lead to some interesting menu updates in the coming weeks. [Chron]

A McDonald’s Worker Hawked a Loogie in Someone's Order

The last straw.

Disgruntled customers mumble it all the time — "He'll probably spit in my food." Well, careful what you wish for, rightfully-pissed-off people, because a McDonald's worker actually did spit in someone's food. Or rather, drink. In the McNastiest story ever, a mother and daughter found mucus in their Sweet Tea down in South Carolina. God save us all. [NYDN]

Ozone Thai to Close Original Location; Upcider Coming In Its Place

Ozone Thai

Via the ABC this a.m. Grub Street discovers that Ozone Thai appears to be looking to close their original location at 1160 Polk Street (upstairs from Vertigo), which would leave them with just their SoMa/Rincon Hill spot at 598 Second Street, opened in 2009. A new owner, Omer Cengiz, is applying to open what may be a cider-centric venue called Upcider in that location. Details will likely follow in a couple of months, and Ozone remains open for now. [Grub Street]

Martha Stewart Gets New Cooking Show on PBS

Always got something in the works.Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Earlier this year, Martha Stewart's show on the Hallmark channel got dumped, causing Grub Street to wonder if it was the beginning of the end for the iconic homemaker's brand. If anything, it gave her a chance to spend some free time with her prize-winning chow chow. Well, it looks like Stewart won't be off the air for very long: She has a new weekly series that will debut on PBS this fall.

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Ice Cube Has Never Tasted Sushi, Will Slather Hot Sauce on Anything

Actor, rapper, and star of 21 Jump Street Ice Cube tells Bon App all about his stomach's desires, which are purely primal and not at all pretentious. Edgy as he is, guacamole just entered his orbit; he's a total, unapologetic sushi virgin; and the concept of juicing (à la co-star Jonah Hill) is completely out of his realm of understanding. He's awesome. [Bon App├ętit]


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