Posts for December 5, 2012

Dinner at The Alembic Is Worth the Wait, Especially Now

Let us begin by saying that the food at The Alembic has always been pretty solid, particularly after 2008 (following its initial debut in 2006), when co-chefs Jordan Grosser and Ted Fleury took over the kitchen as co-executive chefs. Fleury remains there today, and he has upped his game considerably since we were last there to eat. Where the menu was once focused on flavorful bar bites, clever uses of offal, and simple small plates to complement the stellar cocktail menu, what we found on a recent rainy-night visit was akin to a more refined dining experience. We'd even say it was on par with some meals we've had this year at other ambitious neighborhood gems like Frances, Sons & Daughters, and Outerlands.

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Actually Pretty Awesome: 'Fruit Loops' at Chambers Eat + Drink

'Fruit Loops', featuring a foam made from cornflakes and lemongrass that tastes like leftover cereal milk.Photo: Grub Street

It's been about eighteen months since Chambers Eat + Drink opened at the Phoenix Hotel, and the rock-and-roll-themed restaurant and bar seems to have found its footing with good cocktails, a great burger, and cocktail-friendly snacks (see more on the excellent smoked grit fries below), along with larger plates that show off the bigger ambitions of chef Trevor Ogden. One stand-out dish for us was actually a dessert, concocted by Ogden along with sous chef Rachel Stobel (most recently at Range), that's a playful and haute spin on the flavors of Fruit Loops cereal.

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Russell Jackson Resurfaces in S.F. for Two SubCulture Dining Events

'Dissident Chef' Russell Jackson, whose restaurant Lafitte closed in April (chef Michael Chiarello has now snagged the space for his upcoming Spanish concept), has lately been living in New York and doing some pop-up events there. Now he's back in S.F. this month for two event dinners, on December 15 and 21, which will be $199 a person and feature fifteen courses, all centered around duck. The dinners will be limited to an intimate eight people, and will be at an undisclosed location within city limits. But first you will need to fill out a membership application for his SubCulture Dining club. [SFoodie]

What to Drink on the New Cocktail List at West of Pecos

The West of Manhattan cocktail, with bourbon, rye, Carpano Antica, Angostura bitters, and orange bitters.Photo: Grub Street

Several months back, barman Brent Butler left his post at Blackbird to take over as bar manager at seven-month-old West of Pecos (550 Valencia). He made a few tweaks to the menu, but now he unveils his complete new menu for winter, including a few original Western-themed creations like the Cruzita (pisco, Amontillado sherry, Aperol, cardamom), and the Black Rose (anejo tequila, apple shrub, Fernet Vallet, and honey — this one was created by bartender Matthew Grippo). See the full deal below.

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Watch a Charming Little Video About the International Banana Museum

We'll be honest: Until about four minutes ago, we were not aware that the world's largest collection of banana paraphernalia was in Southern California, but it turns out that it is. Cool Hunting stopped by the International Banana Museum and talked to owner (and apparent savior of the museum) Fred Garbutt about why in the hell someone would have a banana museum in the first place. It's ridiculous, of course, but gosh this guy's enthusiasm is just so darn agreeable.

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Anna Roth Not In Love With the Corner Store; Miller Finds Comfort at Company, Jamber

The Corner Store's burger.

Anna Roth gives The Corner Store (Geary & Masonic) props for their Buffalo-style sweetbreads, calling the dish a "brave idea," but ultimately, "madness." It's an example of the menu's blending of high and low cuisines, she says, but it's also an example of where that effort goes "off the rails." She's a fan of the burger with bacon jam (something Mr. Bauer also happened to blog about today), and she loves the "brilliant" and boozy Grasshopper milkshake with creme de menthe and absinthe, but overall she's unimpressed. She says that a couple of entrees, like the half chicken and the pork chop, are fine, but nothing special, and she notes some service issues too. [SF Weekly, Miller's earlier take]

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Pizans’ Italian Seafood Room Departs Doctor’s Lounge, Heads to North Beach

Four-month-old, Italian pop-up Pizans' Italian Seafood Room got the boot from Doctor's Lounge in the Excelsior, effective Saturday. The plan is now to relocate to North Beach, exact location TBA. "I am thankful and so happy we got do what we love in The Excelsior," says partner Victoria D'Amato-Moran, adding that she and husband Steven Moran and fisherman Ron Galileo had been "looking to move on for quite some time." She assures us that the crab cioppino will be back at the new location, which they plan to announce soon. [Facebook via Tablehopper, Earlier]

Zuni Chef-Owner Judy Rodgers Recovering After Major Surgery, Treatment for Rare Cancer

Rodgers

A blog post from friend, protégé and Foreign Cinema owner Gayle Pirie went discreetly up on the Scoop this week discussing the recent, "catastrophic" illness of renowned Zuni Café chef Judy Rodgers. Pirie reveals that Rodgers was diagnosed over the summer with a rare form of cancer that had gone undiagnosed and "slowly metastasized over a series of years." She subsequently underwent a life-threatening operation in September and has been recovering at home ever since. Just last week Pirie took Rodgers out for her first, post-recovery swim, and brought her some apple pop tarts from Foreign Cinema's brunch service. Rodgers is the author of the canonized and widely loved Zuni Café Cookbook, and has served as chef at the iconic restaurant since 1987. She now co-owns Zuni with Gilbert Pilgram, and you can read more about her history at the restaurant, and its evolution from Mexican to Cal-Med cuisine, here. A source tells Grub Street she's doing better every day, and we wish her all the best in her continued recovery. [Scoop]

Zain’s Burgers Heading to Downtown

Something called Zain's Burgers (likely related to the Zain's liquor store empire?) is heading to the 100 First Street building (at Mission). That's all we've got for now.

Wine Kitchen Getting Set to Open on Divisadero

Six months back, Haighteration brought word of a new wine bar and restaurant called Wine Kitchen at 507 Divisadero (at Fell). Today they tell us that it's getting ready for an opening just after the new year, following an extensive buildout, and it's going to feature a menu of small plates from chefs and co-owners Greg Faucette and Jason Limburg, who together have worked on the line at Commonwealth, Bar Tartine, Contigo, Per Se, and Spruce. Example dishes: fried gnocchi with beef short ribs and horseradish; and sardine escabeche with grilled bread, black garlic aioli, and arugula. There will be an "extensive" list of international wines, as well, and the plan is to be open daily from 4 to 11 p.m. Stay tuned for an official opening date. [Haighteration]

Sloshed: How to Drink Your Way Through the Christmas Season

Your actual Christmas might look a little different.Photo: Fox Photos/Getty Images

Christmas is not a drinking holiday, per se (we have Saint Patrick's Day and the Super Bowl for that), but it is the holiday that presents the strongest reasons to drink: family time, shopping madness, end-of-year ennui, sweater parties, cookie swaps, hearing "The Little Drummer Boy" for the fourteenth goddamn time in one day. The only sensible way to navigate the Yuletide gauntlet is with drink in hand.

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