Posts for November 5, 2012

Actually Pretty Awesome: The Flaming Sea Bass Roll at Elephant Sushi

There's a maki roll in there.Photo: Carolyn Feng

Tom Tamir, the sushi chef at the new Elephant Sushi (1916 Hyde Street), isn’t afraid to get down with pyrotechnics. And that’s alright with us when it produces creations like the flaming sea bass roll, which comes, literally, flaming to the table and encased in foil. Once the fire dies down and it’s safe to unwrap the goods, you are rewarded with a slightly warm and satisfying roll of baked sea bass, spicy tuna, masago aioli, Japanese chili, scallion, and sweet soy. The crunch of the masago helps to offset the otherwise creamy orgy of flavors, which includes just enough spiciness and a hint of fragrant shiso.

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Like the Original Location, Nopalito in the Sunset Gets Three Stars From Bauer

Mr. Bauer did his three-visit tour of the new Nopalito in the Sunset, and he comes away saying it's "every bit as good as its predecessor." He especially likes a few dishes he hadn't tried before, like a chipotle-spiced chicken soup called caldo tlalpeno, and a marinated tuna tostada. All told, he awards the place three stars, which is the same rating as the original — which he says is also holding up just fine. [Chron]

SPQR Chef Matt Accarrino Travels Home to Flood-Damaged New Jersey, Laments Lost Cookbooks

Some of Accarrino's water-damaged collection, including Casual Cooking by Michael Chiarello.

At least one local chef was directly affected by the superstorm on the East Coast last week, and that's Matt Accarrino of SPQR. He flew back this past weekend to survey the damage at his family's flooded home in Belmar, New Jersey, which he tells us feels like "an absolute war zone." He reports that he lost a few hundred bottles of wine as well as about 300 cookbooks that he had been storing in his parents' basement, including a signed first edition of White Heat by Marco Pierre White, whom Accarrino staged for in London fifteen years ago; and a signed copy of Emeril Lagasse's New Orleans Cooking, which Emeril inscribed when Accarrino worked for him years ago. "Heartbreak kinda stuff," he tells us. His family is safe and was evacuated to just outside Philadelphia, and he'll be flying back here to be back in the kitchen at the restaurant tomorrow night. If you're able to offer any help to victims of the storm, you may want to check out Occupy Sandy, which is a coordinated online relief effort that sprang out of Occupy Wall Street. [MattAccarrino/Twitter]

New Casual Concept From James Syhabout to Be Called Box and Bells, Featuring Late-Night Gastropub Fare

The former Somerset.

Commis chef James Syhabout, who expanded his empire to two restaurants last year with Hawker Fare near downtown Oakland, is opening a third restaurant next year, as earlier reported, in Rockridge. It's the space that formerly was home to Somerset (5912 College Avenue), and as the Scoop now discovers, the name will be Box and Bells. The menu will be inspired by the sophisticated but casual fare that Syhabout and chef Benjamin Coe prepare for staff meals at Commis, like a potato boxty with salt cod and herbs; fried chicken with raw oyster mayonnaise; crock-baked beans; and an aged cote du boeuf for two with a fricasse of snails and watercress salad. They plan to be open late, and they'll be doing some Box and Bells preview pop-ups at Hawker Fare starting in January. [Scoop, Earlier]

Ryan Vogelsong Celebrates World Series Win at Delarosa While Romo Parties at Infusion

Vogelsong in last Wednesday's victory parade.Photo: Getty Images

Giants pitchers Ryan Vogelsong, Javier Lopez, and George Kontos all came into Delarosa last week, after midnight on Monday night, along with Vogelsong's wife Nicole and former Giant Pat Burrell. According to Leah Garchick, they stayed for an hour, were greeted with cheers from other restaurant goers, and Lopez allegedly picked up the tab. He was deemed an "awesome tipper" by one of the servers there.

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Chop Bar Chef Chris Pastena Taking Over Miss Pearl’s, Will Reopen It as Lungomare

Miss Pearl's will only live through the holidays.

Miss Pearl's Restaurant and Lounge, formerly known as Miss Pearl's Jam House in Oakland's Jack London Square, is going to be closing after the new year and will become a new concept from Chop Bar chef-partner Chris Pastena called Lungomare. As Eater reports, the details haven't been released, but it's sounding like an Italian restaurant, and Pastena and his team will be taking possession of the space on January 7, with hopes for a February opening. You'll recall that Miss Pearl's was closed about this time last year due to a flood, and reopened with a slightly revamped concept in February. Pastena, meanwhile, is also working on another project opening next spring in Oakland, Tribune Tavern, in the Oakland Tribune building. [Eater]

Mission Tea House Om Shan Tea Closes as Owner Gets Convicted on Drug Charges

Cook showing off his stunt tea-pouring skills at Om Shan.

Om Shan Tea owner Oshan Cook, 35, was found guilty Thursday in a federal court on several charges stemming from a 2010 sting operation by the DEA. Cook was found in possession of large quantities of LSD and MDMA (ecstasy) with the intent to distribute it, and he faces a possible sentence of anywhere from ten years to life in prison. Some friends launched a fundraising campaign to try to offset Cook's legal costs, however it failed to reach its funding goal in time, and the financial strain forced Om Shan Tea to close last week. A big believer in the healing power of tea, Cook says he opened Om Shan to "[provide] people with an alternative to drug and alcohol abuse," but it does appear that he had a sideline selling psychedelics, too. [Appeal, HuffPo]

Kitchen Horror Stories 2012: Eleven Ghastly Tales of Restaurant Mayhem

Get ready for more grisly stories.Photo-illustration: Drew Luster

Each Halloween, Grub Street runs a series of Kitchen Horror Stories — gruesome tales from behind the pass. (Here's last year's!) But last week, with so many chefs and owners living out actual (flooded, powerless, ingredient-spoiling) nightmare scenarios after Sandy, the mood hardly seemed right for a new set. Today, the Northeast is a long way from a full recovery, and it's tough to overstate how important it is to get out and support restaurants as they work to get running again. Even so, let this year's set of stories serve as a reminder of just how incredibly hard chefs and restaurant workers are. We can think of no other job where things like severed digits and horrible burns occur with at least some frequency — yet kitchen staffs work through them as if they were nothing, even when just reading about them would make most people squirm. See what we mean, straight ahead.

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Free Cookies Today at Off the Grid Near Levi’s Plaza

Today marks the return, after a brief hiatus, of Off the Grid Vallejo & Front, which will be a thrice weekly market on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons going forward, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. And the big news here is that Cookie Time is giving away freshly baked, whole grain cookies to the first 300 people who come by starting at 11 a.m. Who doesn't like a free cookie?

Another Chef Shuffle at Chez TJ as Joey Elenterio Departs [Updated]

After a year and a half in the kitchen, Joey Elenterio is leaving the executive chef role at Chez TJ in Mountain View. The reason for Elenterio's departure have not been given, and owner George Aviet says he was "surprised." As the Scoop notes, the restaurant has been a launch pad for three other chefs who have gone on to Michelin-star greatness: Christopher Kostow (Meadowood), Joshua Skenes (Saison), and Bruno Chemel (Baumé). Chez TJ itself had two Michelin stars under Kostow, but has stuck at one star for the last several years — something which Aviet was notably upset about and which allegedly led directly to the departure of Chemel. Aviet says he's now on the hunt for his next "great chef," just as the restaurant is celebrating 30 years in business this year. No word on whether the restaurant will continue to serve "complimentary" foie gras, as Elenterio had been doing. [Scoop] Update: Zagat speaks with Elenterio and he hints that he's "ready to do something on a grander scale," saying he was being "held back" by the limitations of Chez TJ. It does not sound like his next step has been quite nailed down, though. [Zagat]

Wahlberg Brothers Sue Burger Business Partner for Being an Idiot

Needs a meeting with H.R.Photo: Getty Images

Mark Wahlberg apparently chooses his movie roles better than his business partners: The Boston Globe reports that he's sued Edward St. Croix, who managed the family's Boston-area burger restaurant, Wahlburgers. The lawsuit alleges that St. Croix is essentially the biggest moron in the world: He did an "abysmal” job and “failed to meet even the most basic duties as business manager.”

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Chocolate Lab Arrives Later This Month in Dogpatch

Just a heads up that Michael Rechiutti's Chocolate Lab (801 22nd Street), which we talked about last month, is still set to open sometime in November. The signage is up, there's now a Facebook page, and here are the menu details, both sweet and savory. We should have an exact opening date soon. [Dogpatch Howler, Earlier]


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