Posts for May 22, 2012

Southpaw Gets a New Chef, Menu; Oakville Grocery Retools

Mission: Southpaw BBQ (2170 Mission) has a new chef, Max Hussey, most recently in the kitchens at Epic Roasthouse and 25 Lusk. He's said to be improving the staples and adding some more classic Southern dishes as well. [Tablehopper]
Also, 780 Café (the former Summit at 780 Valencia) is doing barbecue skirt steak sandwiches and sausages on the weekends. [Eater]
Napa: The Oakville Grocery, said to the oldest continuously operating grocery in California, just underwent an overhaul, and they've got a new menu of gourmet picnic foods and other special stuff from chef Jason Rose. [Eater]
Also, the Oenotri team has put the kibosh on those plans to open a next-door cocktail bar. [Scoop]

Gold Dust Lounge to Close Wednesday Relocate to Fisherman’s Wharf [Updated]

The Gold Dust Lounge.Photo: Brian Smeets/Grub Street

Big news breaking this evening regarding the battle to save the arguably historic, unarguably boozy Gold Dust Lounge (247 Powell Street) on Union Square. According to SFist, via SF Sentinel and a source close to the bar, the business will be closing Wednesday evening and relocating to an undisclosed location at Fisherman's Wharf within the next four months.* The location will be revealed at a press conference Wednesday morning, as will some more details. This revelation ends five months of speculation, city intervention, and landlord-tenant squabbles that brought lawsuits from both sides, including one from Gold Dust owners Jimmy and Tasios Bovis alleging, among other things, elder abuse.

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Comal Called ‘Ambitious’

In her last week writing regular items for Tasting Table, Jessica Battilana gives us a first take on the food at the newly open Comal in downtown Berkeley, where she recommends a cocktail, the Comal Swizzle, and the irresistible, wood-oven roasted whole Tai snapper, "its flesh imbued with the flavors of smoke and herbs." Also, she's got the recipe for their black-olive salsa, and says the local salmon crudo shouldn't be missed either. [Tasting Table]

French Laundry Opens Up Its Courtyard for Al Fresco Dining

The Laundry's new courtyard table.Photo: Sara Davis

You can now make reservations beyond the exactly 60-day-ahead rule that The French Laundry has kept up for over a decade, but there's a catch: You'll be dining outside, and you'll need a party of eight or more people. They're taking reservations up to a year in advance for the new courtyard table, which seats up to twelve and features radiant heat under the patio. The courtyard will offer the same nine-course tasting menu as in the dining room, and you'll want to call the private-dining coordinator to book that table at 707-944-0456. We're guessing more than a few rehearsal dinners are going to happen here. [Scoop]

Semen-Laced Cupcake Leads to Arson Threats at Minnesota High School

Kids in St. Paul have got to find some hobbies. [Pioneer Press]

SF FoodLab Debuts Tomorrow With Puerto Rican Pop-Up on Mid-Market

They got that reclaimed wood up fast!Photo: Courtest of SF Food Lab

Just last week we got word that the ground-floor spaces of the Renoir Hotel at 7th and Market were getting a hipster-fication of sorts, with a new bar from the Bon Vivants called Rio Grande set for a June 1 opening (in what was once Etiquette), and a new rotating pop-up space and commercial kitchen called SF FoodLab, from Matt Cohen of Off the Grid and partners Gabriel Cole and Mark Walker. It turns out the first pop-up will be debuting there, at 1106 Market, tomorrow, May 23, and it will be Puerto Rican food from San Rafael's Sol Food. The FoodLab kids just Instagrammed this photo of the entry to the bare, tiled space that was most recently home to Little Joe's, and they're obviously racing the get the place cleaned up and ready. Sol Food will open at 10:30 a.m. for lunch only until 2 p.m., and they'll reappear again on Thursday, and every weekday through June except for Memorial Day. [Earlier] Update: Here are some more details about dinner pop-ups coming as well.

Judge Deems POM Wonderful’s Health-Centric Advertising Misleading

Heart logos are still totally legal.

Remember when POM Wonderful's voluptuous bottles of pomegranate juice first hit supermarket shelves? Those were the days: The stuff tasted good, and it was supposedly great for your heart and prevented cancer and fixed broken boners and all that stuff insinuated in the brand's print, web, and television ads. Yesterday, a federal judge pretty much confirmed the health claims are bullshit, upholding complaints from the FTC filed in September 2010 that the L.A.–based company misled customers through false advertising about the juice's health benefits. After hearing expert witnesses debunk some of the company's science, Chief Administrative Law Judge Michael Chappell ordered POM to cease with all misleading ad claims on Monday. So why is Roll Global, the company behind the product, celebrating the decision?

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Oakland’s Beer Revolution Expands Next Door With Public House and European-Vegan Restaurant

Over in the East Bay we have news today about the coming expansion plans of Beer Revolution (464 Third Street), the popular Jack London Square-adjacent beer store and bar. Grub Street just learned that they will be taking over the next-door space at 468 3rd Street to open the Old Depot Public House, which will be "just like Beer Revolution, but with food," says owner Fraggle (his only name). The new space is about 1,800 square feet and the plan is to open by late summer with a menu of European vegan and vegetarian cuisine to go with their 47+ beers on tap and many more by the bottle. Beer Revolution, which will remain as-is and was originally inspired by SoMa's City Beer Store, opened in early 2010 and quickly drew big crowds. Fraggle and his wife Rebecca Boyles are both vegans, and they've made a habit of frequenting and sending customers to nearby Souley Vegan. The beer list, as always, will focus on local and California brews, with nods to small breweries elsewhere too.

Funny or Die Spoofs Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP

Any reader of Gwyneth Paltrow's GOOP newsletter knows the woman loves to name-drop. So of course, over on this Funny or Die spoof, she can't even make a frittata without reminding us all that she dated Brad Pitt, is married to Chris Martin, and is pals with Mario Batali and Cee Lo Green. And Gwynnie would never make any ordinary omelette: This one's done with Fabergé and dodo eggs, plus salt from "adjacent to the Dead Sea Scrolls." See for yourself straight ahead.

Right this way for video. »

Maestro Finally Open in Former Stars Space

After some considerable delays that first had it opening in December, and then in April, the new bakery-restaurant Maestro has finally opened at 555 Golden Gate Avenue, in the space that was once home to Stars and later Trader Vic's. It's a new venture based on Burlingame's La Bohème, which recently closed in preparation for the owners and staff to shift their efforts to this Civic Center spot with a focus on opera and symphony crowds built right into the name.

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New Warriors Arena Will Include New Restaurants, Won’t Threaten Red’s Java House

This morning we learned of the Golden State Warriors' (that's basketball, in case anyone was confused) plans to move back across the Bay from Oakland in the later part of the decade, and they'll be moving to a new, major arena planned for Piers 30 to 32 on the S.F. waterfront. Now, this Port property has been in flux for a while, with the announcement a year ago that there were plans for a big seawall development on what is now a couple of crumbling piers with a parking lot. The $500 million arena plan includes the basketball stadium, which will also be used for concerts and conventions, includes 100,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space to be divvied up. And as the Scoop gets word today, the historic little burger shack Red's Java House, which sits on Pier 30, is not threatened and will remain.

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Opening Soon: Region, in the Former Mexico DF Space [Updated]

The brand new Region.

Region, a new, upscale, pan-Asian restaurant from the owners of Unicorn in the Financial District opens its doors tomorrow at 139 Steuart Street, in the former Mexico DF spot. Thrillist was the first on the case, and has a few menu details, like Beijing duck carved tableside, bacon tiger prawns in a crab sauce, and cubed filet mignon with onions, Szechuan pepper and seared rice cake. There's a full bar with a cocktail program by Victoria D'Amato-Moran of Cent'anni Cocktails, and in addition to some twists on classics she's got a few new ones like the Dragon Tattoo (vodka, Strega, lime and five-spice powder). We'll have more details and photos for you on opening day. [Thrillist, Earlier] Update: It turns out tomorrow night's opening isn't set in stone, and due to computer glitches they're delayed until the 29th or later.

Grub Street Editor Alyssa Shelasky Wrote a Great New Book, and It᾿s Out Today

Alyssa often stands on counters while she's blogging, too.Photo: Random House

Close readers will notice one byline has been absent from Grub Street this week: That's because our own Alyssa Shelasky is taking a quick break from the blogging grind to release her brand-new memoir, Apron Anxiety, which, coincidentally, can be purchased right this second.

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DragonEats, a Vietnamese Street Food Spot, Coming to Hayes Valley

Hayes Valley had its restaurant boom last year, with more than a handful of new spots opening up like Nojo, Boxing Room, and Dobbs Ferry. This year, as Hayeswire shows us, a few things are still on their way, including DragonEats (520 Gough Street), a Vietnamese street food restaurant going into a new retail space in a residential building. Does that mean banh mi? Unclear. Details are scarce in terms of timing, but look for that to open up within the next few months, as well as Hayes Valley Bakeworks (550 Gough), the non-profit bakery-café from a former DeLessio chef which is set to open in early June. [Hayeswire]

Horror Stories: The Thirteen Most Terrifying Restaurant Standoffs

It might seem like a rare occurrence, but leaving the house to grab a quick bite can turn into a drawn-out tragedy of terrifying proportions when a random robber or crazed gunman hits the same restaurant you do. The scary thing: This is happening more and more often these days. This past weekend, masked men assaulted patrons in a restaurant outside Chicago. Last week, Savannah, Georgia's Olde Pink House restaurant was the site of a nerve-shredding standoff between a police SWAT team and an armed suspect in a failed kidnapping plot. That followed a sick scenario just last month when a man horrifically gunned down his entire family at a Cleveland Cracker Barrel. Sadly, these kinds of horror stories are really nothing new. Bomb scares, hostage situations, and straight-up mass murders have plagued our nation's restaurants. Here now, a chilling look back at fourteen of the most horrifying, fear-inducing incidents to date.

Le Bernardin Gets Its Four Stars Renewed Yet Again

"Le Bernardin’s four-star rating in The New York Times has been confirmed every time the restaurant has been assessed, from 1986, when it opened, through 2005," writes Times critic Pete Wells. "Why wait to say it: today I fall in line, happily, with my predecessors." Wells says that the newly remodeled restaurant with its sleek lounge, and chef Eric Ripert's constantly refreshed seafood menu moves ever forward, "like a fish." [NYT]

Video: Grant Achatz and Richard Rosendale on the Bocuse d’Or

You could say that America has not been a standout in the Bocuse d'Or competition held every other year in Lyons, France. We've tended to be the nation-state equivalent of the seemingly formidable Top Chef contestant who goes home in week three for undercooking the lamb. But a group of top American chefs — such as Thomas Keller and Daniel Boulud — continue to put a lot of energy and resources behind changing that. And with the competition having grown more contemporary in outlook in recent years, they're determined to help U.S. team captain Richard Rosendale (from the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia) take advantage of everything that's happening on America's culinary scene and show off the best of modern American cooking. As part of that, Rosendale is spending time at a number of America's top restaurants, including the French Laundry in Napa, Daniel in New York, and Alinea in Chicago, working with their chefs on ideas for how to approach the contest. As Alinea's Grant Achatz says, "When Thomas Keller calls, you don't turn him down," and so last week he showed Rosendale around his kitchen, his city, and not least of all Crucial Detail, the atelier where many of Alinea's unique serving pieces are created. In our exclusive seven-minute video interview below, chefs Rosendale and Achatz talk about what the competition is like, how you prepare for it, and why it matters for American chefs to be part of the Bocuse d'Or.

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Ted Allen on His New Book, Crushing Chefs’ Dreams, and Chopped’s Lost Chihuahua

Poppin' champers across the country.Photo: Gail Oskin/Getty Images

Ted Allen is on a roll: At this month's James Beard Broadcast awards, his show Chopped picked up two medallions, one for Allen's hosting skills, and another for the best studio-based cooking show. So how has Allen been celebrating? By working more, of course. His latest book, In My Kitchen: 100 Recipes and Discoveries for Passionate Cooks, was released last week and he's now in the middle of a tour to promote it. (Check out the remaining tour dates here.) We caught up with Allen, who's in San Francisco at the moment, via phone to talk about how he manages to entertain himself on tour, how Chopped came to be, and his upcoming trip to Nathan Myhrvold's cooking lab in Seattle.

"I do have some really fun shit going on." »

Listen to a Clip From Harvard’s Asparagus Opera

Tastes best set to music.Photo: iStockphoto

Start your morning off right with the ambient sounds of asparagus! Tonight, Boston chef Jason Bond (Bondir) and composer Ben Houge stage a one-night-only asparagus opera, Food Opera: Four Asparagus Compositions, at Harvard's Graduate School of Design. Invited guests will feast upon an asparagus-themed menu while music plays to enhance the flavors and textures. We've got an exclusive clip of what we can only assume is the world's first-ever asparagus opera right here, so you can visualize at your desk. This ditty is called "Hot White Asparagus Soup, Togarashi Marshmallow, Nori Powder, Miso-hazelnuts."

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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