Posts for December 7, 2012

Victory Burger Opens in Oakland; New Chef at Chez TJ

Oakland: Victory Burger, which we mentioned was moving in next door to Actual Cafe at San Pablo Avenue and Alcatraz, is now open. [East Bay Dish]
Also, the newly opened Miss Ollie's will be lunch only, on weekdays, for the remainder of the month, but will likely start dinner and weekend service in January. [Zagat, Earlier]
Mountain View: Chez TJ has just named their new chef, and it's Jarad Gallagher, who most recently was chef de cuisine at Plumed Horse in Saratoga, and he's also worked at One Market and Michael Mina. The menu has already become almost entirely his. [Scoop, Earlier]

Hirsch Reviews Under-the-Radar Spot Peña Pachamama

The Examiner's Jesse Hirsch has made it his business lately to seek out the unsung, under-appreciated, and under-the-radar restaurants no one else is talking about, and he deserves some praise for that. Today he chooses Peña Pachamama, a vegan-friendly restaurant that's been at Powell and Green in North Beach for over a decade but doesn't really have any of the buzz or loyal following that Gracias Madre and Millennium have. He gives some cautious praise to a "BLT" with bacon substitute and coconut strips ("Stop rolling your eyes..."), and says the Bolivian vegan stew with fava beans, squash, peas, Bolivian aji pepper, other vegetables, and "textured with kale chips and quinoa" is pretty good too. He also loves, to his surprise, the organic raw ravioli, made of zucchini and coconut flour with a cashew cheese center. As for the few meat dishes on the menu, like beef empanadas and chicken chicharrones, he says they aen't that great. [Examiner]

What to Eat at Campo Pizzeria, Opening December 19 in Palo Alto

The house-made fennel sausage pizza with tomato, smoked mozzarella, peperonata, and scallions.Photo: Courtesy of Campo Pizzeria

Squeaking in just before Christmas will be Campo Pizzeria, the new Peninsula project from well known S.F. chef Sean O'Brien. As we learned in October, the former Myth and Zinnia chef, who landed on Food & Wine's Best New Chef list in 2007 before disappearing two years later following the closure of Zinnia, has been making a living as a private chef the past few years. Now he's working with the team behind Sam's Chowder House in Half Moon Bay and San Mateo's Osteria Coppa to open Campo Pizzeria in Palo Alto. The opening is set for December 19, and today we have the draft menu, which includes a variety of intriguing sounding salads, pizzas, pastas, and entrées. We'll point out, too, that all that private-cheffing seems to have made O'Brien sensitive to the gluten aversion, and all the pizzas and pastas will be available in gluten-free versions. Also, Peninsula residents should note that they're doing a free soft opening event on December 16 for everyone who likes them on Facebook.

Read more »

Eat a KronnerBurger for Charity Monday at Bar Tartine

You can head over to Bruno's to sample Chris Kronner's KronnerBurger pop-up this weekend, or you can hold off until Monday when Kronner will be in residence at Bar Tartine all day long. He'll be slinging burgers and shakes from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and it's all to benefit Tartine owner Elisabeth Prueitt's pet project: the Conductive Education Center of S.F., an experimental school for children with motor disabilities like cerebral palsy, like her and Chad Robertson's five-year-old daughter Archer. Order your burgers ahead, and make donations, here. [Earlier]

Big (the Bar) Unveils Hanukkah Cocktail

Barman Brian Felley, at the very tiny Big (761 Post Street), has just unveiled a new special cocktail for Hanukkah called the Hebrew International ($12). It combines an international set of ingredients (Wild Turkey bourbon, Xtabentun liqueur from the Yucatan, Slivovitz plum brandy from Yugoslavia, Kummel from Holland, Chinese five-spice bitters, muddled apple, lime and garnished with cumin and salt-covered diced apple), and we suppose it's the cumin that's meant to evoke Israel or the Middle East. It will be available through December 16, or the end of Hanukkah.

Are Hasbro’s Easy-Bake Ovens Just for Girls?

How about them (Easy-Baked) apples?Photo: Courtesy of Hasbro

An eighth-grade girl from Garfield, New Jersey, wanted to get her 4-year-old brother an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas but was upset to learn the toy only came in pink and purple and is marketed to girls. McKenna Pope’s little brother Gavyn says he'd be fine playing with a pink oven by himself, but would be "embarrassed to use it in front of his friends." Pope's petition to convince Hasbro to make a "boy's" version was signed by 30,000 people in a week, and even Bobby Flay has weighed in, telling the Associated Press that he got his start on an Easy-Bake when he was just 5 years old. For the record, Flay says the oven's color doesn't matter. [AP/APP]

Meadowood’s Christopher Kostow Lauded in Time, Hints at New Projects

Kostow is, they say, a man "speaks at a rapid clip, digressing (and cursing) freely on topics from Socrates ... to In-N-Out Burger."Photo: Creel Films

Meadowood chef Christopher Kostow, only the second American-born chef after Thomas Keller to earn three stars from Michelin, has much to be proud of. In the new issue of Time magazine, culture writer Katie Arnold-Ratliff observes that Meadowood "is quite possibly the only restaurant on the planet to have earned such an accolade without a menu." (Referring to the restaurant's shift this year to customizing menus for each table, and only giving out menus at the end of the meal.) The profile goes on to feature praise from colleagues including Keller, who gushes, "Chris is someone who exemplifies the progression of American cuisine, who has great skills, [and] a wonderful knowledge of what he's doing and who he is." Also, we learn that Kostow prefers Shake Shack in New York to In-N-Out. [Editor's Note: Blasphemy!]

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Why Has SodaStream Gotten So Aggressive All of a Sudden?

Maybe you've seen this newish SodaStream commercial that was banned in Europe but airs carefree in the U.S.? The one that features attractive people hitting the carbonating button atop their machines to make seltzer, but also thereby remotely detonating bottles of cola and orange soda in warehouses and bodegas, as if they were two-liter bogeymen?

What's up with SodaStream? »

Exclusive: Roosevelt Tamale Parlor on 24th Street Getting Upscale Spin From New Owners

The iconic sign.

Roosevelt Tamale Parlor (2817 24th Street) is an iconic business on 24th Street, having withstood the many changes in the neighborhood over the decades, and changing its own menu and identity several times since it opened in the 1920s. The first owner was Dutch, named Roosevelt, and in 1950 it was sold to Juan Carrasco, an immigrant from Jalisco, whose family held onto the business into the twenty-first century. Previous owner Isaac Mejia, who was partnered with Carrasco's son, recently died in a tragic car accident, and the Roosevelt was for sale again. Partners Aaron Presbrey and chef Barry Moore (a longtime head chef at Emmy's Spaghetti Shack) took over as of November 1, and they're only beginning to make changes, including a tweak to the official name, which will be The Roosevelt — though the much loved neon Tamale Parlor sign isn't going anywhere. Presbrey tells Grub Street that he and Moore were on the hunt for a restaurant space for several years before settling on this one, so they're now trying to adapt their own ideas to fit them in to the well established restaurant and menu. "We're preserving the rich history that is The Roosevelt Tamale Parlor and enhancing it with some new and interesting things," he explains.

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4505 Meats Finally Opening a Full Time Butcher Shop in the Mission

Ryan FarrPhoto: via Mission Community Market

Local butcher Ryan Farr and his wife and business partner Cesalee will finally have a brick-and-mortar home this month for 4505 Meats. On December 15, they're opening a shop at 1909 Mission Street (at 15th), right near the decidedly meat-free Rainbow Grocery, and Ryan says, "I will be there daily, cutting and grinding meat to order, and will always be happy to answer your cooking and butchering questions." For several years now, Farr has been a fixture at the Ferry Building farmers' markets and other events and has built his business into a well known hot dog, sausage, burger, and chicharrones brand. "Opening a shop is something we’ve been talking about for four years," he says, "And now, after two babies, over 100 classes, and two books, we are finally doing it." (The first book, Whole Beast Butchery, came out last fall, and the second, 4505 Meats’ Sausage Book, is due out in 2014.) But that's not all. Farr reveals today that they're simultaneously working on "a larger concept in a different location of the Mission" which they hope to open in 2013.

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How Bud Light Platinum Went Platinum


On Monday, February 6, a vaguely sweeter, higher-proof version of Bud Light went on sale after debuting in an expensive Super Bowl commercial the previous night. Packaged in cobalt-colored bottles and sold at an arbitrarily higher price, Bud Light Platinum seemed like a big joke in the making, says BuzzFeed, but somehow the beer became Anheuser-Busch's biggest success story in recent memory, specifically with a very small subset of millennials: "24 to 27 is really that sweet spot," a Bud VP says, adding that "it's less than a demographic than a mind-set." Further down the trail of hops, BuzzFeed finds a 22-year-old marketing intern with another, more concise understanding of the beer's appeal, who says her friends "decided it was ‘a drink for frat boys who like, grew up a little bit.’’’ [BuzzFeed]

Former Vanessi’s Space on Nob Hill Becoming Osso Steakhouse

It's been a little bit of a cursed spot.Photo: Yelp

The space on the ground floor of the Gramercy Towers (1177 California Street at Jones), which was long ago home to Vanessi's and which we noted last year was on the market, finally has a taker some eighteen months later. It's becoming something called Osso Steakhouse, as we learn today on the liquor license wires, from Jerry Dal Bozzo, the man behind The Stinking Rose and the recently revamped Old Clam House. After the closing of Vanessi's in 1997, the space in the shadow of Grace Cathedral has changed hands a number of times, and has been known as The Californian, Sparrow, Watergate, and Gramercy Grill. This new steakhouse is likely looking at a spring opening, but we'll update you as we learn more solid details. [Earlier]

Jonathan Gold Is Getting His Own Documentary

Coming to a theater near you.

Current Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold will be the subject of a forthcoming documentary directed by Laura Gabbert, who made 2009's No Impact Man, according to The Hollywood Reporter. When he started out 30 years ago, Gold shifted the food conversation away from white tablecloth restaurants by turning attention to a broader array of mom and pop noodle shops, burrito stalls, undersung smokehouses, gas station sandwich shops, and more, giving them the same consideration as the rest of the Los Angeles dining scene, then coming down from a fever dream of spa cuisine and oversteamed snow peas.

He's still sorta anonymous, so how will this work? »


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