Posts for May 10, 2012

Miller Discovers Great New Sushi at Saru and Joshu-ya

This week at the Guardian Virginia Miller names some of her top sushi picks in the Bay Area (Sushi Ran, anyone?), and also takes note of two notable newcomers. First up is Saru Sushi Bar (3856 24th Street) in Noe Valley, where she finds "playful, unique bites prepared with care" as well as perfect raw spot prawn and scallop nigiri. At the recently revamped Joshu-Ya Brasserie in Berkeley, she says the "$35 omakase is a steal" and they've got actual fresh wasabi, which isn't so easy to find. [SFBG]

S.F. Chefs Pair Off For Special Dinner Parties This Summer

Terje and Dommen are pals.Photo: Courtesy of SF Chefs

In conjunction with this year's SF Chefs event, for which tickets went on sale today and which will officially kick off the week of July 30, a bunch of local chefs who are actually friends are doing dinners together in various locales. For instance, friends Mark Dommen (One Market) and Staffan Terje (Perbacco) are teaming up on June 28 to butcher and cook multiple dishes from a single goat from Rossotti Ranch. Also, Bar Tartine's Nick Balla goes way back with Baker & Banker's Jeff Banker and Lori Baker, and the trio will be doing a "Modern American Picnic" dinner on July 9. See all the dinner options and make your reservations here.

Teen Who (Allegedly) Stole Fieri's Lambo Was Scorned By Girl

Just a quick update on the case of the Marin seventeen-year-old who's accused of both stealing Guy Fieri's $200,000 Lamborghini and shooting at two other teens in Mill Valley last month: He's been identified as Max Wade, and his motive for the shooting is apparently that a certain seventeen-year-old girl wouldn't go out with him, so he shot at her and her boyfriend while they were sitting in a parked car. Also, he smirked as he came into the courtroom this morning, apparently amused by the huge media contingent there. [Marin IJ, CBS]

Condoleezza Rice Plays Pool at Wayfare; Jane Lynch Does Dim Sum

Who knew she was a pool shark?Photo: Yuri Cortez/Getty Images

This week in celebrity sightings we have former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice popping up at Wayfare Tavern where she reserved the second-floor, mens-clubby billiard room for herself and some friends. She works at Stanford now, in case you'd lost track. No word on whether she texted Hillary to join. [Tablehopper]

In other news, Glee star Jane Lynch was spied having some dim sum last weekend at Yank Sing at Rincon Center. No word on who she was with. [Tablehopper]

Trace Doing Pop-Tarts and Bellinis for Mother’s Day

Trace at the W

For those with moms within commuting distance, you may want to consider the prix fixe they're doing at Trace at the W this Sunday. It's $42 for a three-course menu with several options in each course, including a sweet course with homemade pop-tarts and liege waffles, and a savory one with chilaquiles or Eggs Benedict with prosciutto. For $24 more, you can have bottomless bellinis, too. Also, the hotel is offering packages that include a 75-minute massage at Bliss Spa. Reserve here.

Jeremy Fox Settles in Los Feliz, Has New Line of "Fine Foods"

Jeremy Fox

Former Ubuntu chef Jeremy Fox has officially ditched San Francisco for the Southland, as he confirms with Squid Ink that he became a resident of Los Feliz at the end of 2012, following his summer swan song at Oakland's Plum and prior to the opening of Freddy Smalls Bar & Kitchen where the chef consulted on menus. The chef explains his embrace of The City of Angels, "I've spent a lot of time in L.A. in past couple years and the more I was here the more it reminded me of Atlanta, where I grew up, in terms of the sprawling communities and the different personalities intermixing. There's more freedom to be yourself." So, how will the chef choose to express this new-found freedom?

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Accused Wine Counterfeiter Actually a Brilliant Wine Blender

Back in March we reported on the arrest of jet-setting wine collector and dealer Rudy Kurniawan, a.k.a. Dr. Conti, who was busted for allegedly selling counterfeit bottles of ultrarare French vintages. It turns out that a key to Kurniawan's success over part of the last decade was his palate, and his skill at mimicking — via blends he made in a home laboratory using recent vintages — the bouquet, color, and flavor of very old and expensive wines.

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Cosmopolitan Shutters, Enormous Space Up for Grabs


A huge restaurant at Rincon Center that we didn't even realize was still there is closing, as the Scoop reports. The Cosmopolitan Café (121 Spear Street), later rebranded as The Cosmopolitan, opened over a decade ago in a 7,300-square-foot space, and even Michael Bauer in his 2000 review asked "Will diners find it?" The space had been thought cursed after three previous restaurants were short-lived, including Larry Mindel's Etrusca, but the Cosmopolitan managed to survive. Its chef, Steven Levine, and the management team is relocating to Petaluma to open Social Club. Meanwhile, anyone who's in the market for an enormous turnkey space near the FiDi seek out the landlords. [Scoop]

Gratuity Included: A Quick History of Big Celebrity Tippers

We've spent enough time working restaurant jobs and slogging through part-time drudgery to truly appreciate any baller who knows how to tip big. And in celebrity circles, a huge gratuity (made public) is a surefire path to good PR and image rehabilitation. Yesterday, we learned that John Travolta wasn't too shabby with a tip at a fortuitously timed dinner at Mr. Chow in New York. So today, we present some huge tipping moments that might make you think, however, briefly, that the celebrities who left them aren't such bad people after all — even notorious ne'er-do-wells such as Naomi Campbell and Russell Crowe. Check it out, straight ahead.

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Restaurateur Says Puck Still Served Foie Gras in February, Condemns Senator's Rhetoric

Mark Pastore, owner of S.F.'s Incanto and a vocal opponent of the impending California ban on foie gras, wrote an op-ed that appears in today's Chronicle condemning former state senator John Burton's "violent rhetoric" against the 100 chefs and restaurateurs who signed a recent petition to overturn the ban. (Burton said last week he'd like to sit the chefs down and have dry oatmeal "shoved down their throats over and over and over again.") Pastore makes the point that in 2003, just prior to the foie gras legislation being passed, a group of animal-rights extremists vandalized the home of then San Francisco chef Laurent Manrique and threatened him and his family. "Sadly," Pastore writes, "not everyone understands the line between rhetoric and action. Gay bashing, abortion clinic bombings, and the murder of doctors who perform abortions have all been preceded by use of violent rhetoric intended to dehumanize the target." Furthermore, he wrote in to Grub Street to point out that Wolfgang Puck's hypocrisy about foie gras extends stateside — he had foie gras on the menu at Chinois in L.A. as recently as February, which is the same month he issued that letter to fellow chefs in support of the ban.

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Vegemite’s Sales Stink

And how about revamping the dated packaging?

Australia is having something of a culinary identity crisis as younger eaters increasingly fail to embrace Vegemite, writes The Wall Street Journal. The yeasty spread (a by-product of beer-making, we just learned) is notorious for its pungent smell and salty flavor, not qualities generally beloved by children. And a growing Asian population in places like Sydney means many youngsters have no familial obligation to ingest the stuff, since their parents never did.

Marmite, however, is in demand. »

Café on Franklin Becoming Noodle Shop Called Kaka

It's not the greatest name from the perspective of an English speaker, but Kaka Udon Kitchen is set to open soon in the former Elite Restaurant space at 1535 Franklin (not to be confused with the long-lived Elite Café on Fillmore in Pac Heights). While the Elite Restaurant was known for microwaved lasagna and extremely cheap eats, Kaka will clearly be an improvement no matter what they do. More details as we hear them...

‘Around the World in 80 Plates’ Recap: David Rees on the Premiere

Cheers!Photo: Virginia Sherwood/Bravo

Do you like food? Do you like the world? If you’re like me, you do! But here’s the most important question, reader: Do you like plates? I think plates are pretty cool — I like big circular plates covered with leafy greens and pork chops and mashed potatoes and other such delights. I’m also fond of oval platters suffocating under the weight of extreme nachos. I’ll confess to hating rectangular and triangular plates of the type you find at certain restaurants who take as their motto “Let’s confound diners’ expectations about the most basic shit in the universe,” but overall I guess you could call me a fan of plates. Anyway, there’s a new show made for people just like you and me: Around the World in 80 Plates is Bravo's celebration of travel and cuisine and arguing and all that stuff we’ve come to expect from reality TV (and reality itself).

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Bauer’s Top 100 Becomes an App

It's cute when the Chronicle tries to get all tech savvy, and today we learn that Michael Bauer's annually updated Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants list is now an iPhone app. This will certainly make for much easier searching than on SFGate! [iTunes via Mission Local]

Ten Fantastically Nasty Fast-Food Meltdowns

It's a fact: Crazy things happen at fast-food restaurants. But we always assumed that people who did things like dial 911 for McNuggets or stiletto-stomp patrons at Taco Bell were predisposed to such behavior despite their diet. But turns out, if they favored wheatgrass over Whoppers, things could be different. Recently Ohio State University announced a research project that seeks to link fast food to the body's reaction to stressful situations (like, say, not getting McNuggets right now.) And in that spirit of academic pursuit, we've put together a list of the ten most outrageous fast-food freakouts. All the people on this list behaved poorly, but don't judge. Science might just be on their side.


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