Posts for December 19, 2012

Roth Compares Chocolate Lab and Tout Sweet; Miller Digs a Half Dozen Great Desserts

Yigit Pura's Fifth Element dessert at Tout Sweet.

Just in time for the holidays, both Anna Roth and Virginia Miller are on the sweet beat this week. Roth does a dual review of Recchiutti Confections' recently opened Chocolate Lab in Dogpatch, and Yigit Pura's more modernist Tout Sweet, on the third floor of Macy's. Of Chocolate Lab she writes, "all [the] reclaimed California elm, local hand-blown glass, and custom tiles from Heath emblazoned with ferns [make it] like a Sunset magazine spread, but [it] has enough playful details ... to show that it doesn't take itself too seriously." She loves their ice cream sundae and, from the savory menu, the goat cheese soufflé ("lighter and tangier than quiche, but no less satisfying"). At Tout Sweet she's a little put off by the showiness of the place, and says Pura's style "too often veers into preciousness." However she likes the Tesla Tart and the Fifth Element petit gâteau, and writes, "Pura does have a genuine gift for concepts made into flavors." [SF Weekly]

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Dallas-Based Corner Bakery Café Will Go Toe-to-Toe With Panera in Bay Area

They just opened their first Bay Area location in Pleasanton.

Dallas-based fast-casual bakery-restaurant chain Corner Bakery Café is planning to open 32 new locations in the greater Bay Area over the next seven years, in cooperation with California-based Buon Hospitality. They're scouting locations on both sides of the Bay, as far north as Santa Rosa and south to Santa Cruz, and the plan is to go toe-to-toe with Panera Bread, which already has over a dozen locations around the Bay, concentrated primarily around San Jose. They're in no hurry, however. They've just opened their first local spot in Pleasanton, and as Corner Bakery operations director tells the Business Times, "Our timeframe is based more on finding great locations in the Bay Area than it is about watching the calendar." [Business Times]

Get a Whole Beast Cassoulet for Christmas or New Year's

Yum.Photo: Courtesy of The Whole Beast

Chef John Fink of local meat mongers The Whole Beast is offering up a festive, hearty turkey cassoulet for pickup or delivery on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or New Year's Day. It serves six to ten people, and it's a big casserole lined with Llano Seco double-smoked bacon, topped with Rancho Gordo Christmas Lima and Snow Cap beans, The Whole Beast's homemade turkey, cranberries, sage sausage, braised turkey thighs, nine-spice turkey neck confit, 4505 Meats chicharrones, turkey cracklings, and croutons. Whoa. [Tablehopper]

Bourbon & Branch Team May Be Opening Seventh Bar in Twitter Building

The Market Square building, formerly known as SF Mart.Photo: Shorenstein Properties

The Future Bars team of Brian Sheehy and Doug Dalton, who opened up two, very big new bars this year — Local Edition (Market and Third), and Tradition (441 Jones Street) — and who already own three and a half others (Bourbon & Branch, Rickhouse, Swig, and the bar-within-a-bar Wilson & Wilson), have a seventh possible project up their sleeve. The Business Times reports today that they're among the high-profile tenants looking into the ground-floor spaces at the Market Square Building at Tenth and Market, which is home to Twitter's new headquarters.

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Fancy Whiskey and Beer Purveyor Healthy Spirits Expanding to the Richmond

Residents of the Lower Haight and Duboce Triangle have one of those best-kept-secret shops in their midst: Healthy Spirits (2299 15th Street at Castro). The corner store specializes in fancy beers from around the world, as well as fine whiskeys of all kinds, from American to Scotch to Japanese (see their full whiskey menu here), and they even keep up a Bourbon Blog. Now they're expanding to a second location, as Haighteration reports, way over at Clement and 12th Avenue in the Inner Richmond. They're taking over a former corner market there, and will open soon, bringing their booze expertise to a part of town that's likely starved for it. Come to think of it, there are quite a few neighborhoods that could use a better curated liquor selection, so hopefully they won't stop here. [Haighteration]

Watch a Guy Make the Downton Abbey House in Gingerbread Form

A guy with a lot of time on his hands has erected a gingerbread replica of the Yorkshire country estate in Downton Abbey. The time-lapse video shows how he meticulously cuts and bakes the dough, frosts it, hooks up lighting, and, oh God, it's exhausting just typing this (does he have a day job?). The finished product is impressive — a period piece, really. Now, where's the edible Lady Mary?

To hold you over until new episodes air in January. »

American Grilled Cheese Kitchen Opening Mission Location ‘Very Soon’

The Piglet sandwich, with Tillamook sharp cheddar, cured ham, apple mustard, and rosemary butter.

Speaking of Café Gratitude, the restaurant's former S.F. location (2400 Harrison at 20th, across from Flour + Water) is becoming the second outpost of The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen right around the new year. Co-owner Heidi Gibson reports that health and building inspections are done, and she expects to be open by the end of the first week of January. They've spent the last six months remodeling the space, adding new walnut cabinetry and shelving behind the bar. And the deal will be similar to the flagship South Park location, with a menu of signature grilled cheeses with various fillings — like the Foghorn Leghorn (creamy havarti, Point Reyes blue cheese, Zoe's Roasted Chicken, arugula, dill-dijon mustard on whole wheat) and the Jalapeno Popper (local chèvre, Monterey jack, applewood-smoked bacon, apricot-jalapeño relish on levain). But the new spot will also have De La Paz Coffee as well as four wines and six beers on tap. Stay tuned for an exact opening date as soon as we learn it. Update: Gibson clarifies that they're going to start with breakfast and lunch only, and add dinner service a few weeks in, by February. [Earlier]

Just in Time for Christmas: A Bacon Yule Log Video

Applegate Farms made a video of bacon crackling over a picturesque fireplace — an emotionally manipulative, if effective, marketing move. No matter how you feel about bacon, firing up the 31-minute video on Christmas morning is a nice way to ensure everyone unwrapping presents also gets a case of the meat sweats.

Festive food porn, right this way. »

Gracias Madre Expands to L.A.

Some of you may recall the whole Café Gratitude saga of last year — long story short: they got sued by former employees for sketchy tip practices, the owners cried poverty, they settled out of court and closed down a few locations, and the remaining restaurants remain a touch cult-y. Now, the children of founders Matthew and Terces Engelhart, who opened a highly successful branch of the restaurant in L.A. a couple years ago, are also taking the Gracias Madre brand down south as well. A second outpost of the Mission-based, vegan Mexican spot will open in late 2013 in West Hollywood. [Grub Street LA]

Soul Groove Adds Booze, Brunch in the 'Loin

The (Gangnam) Social Club sandwich: bacon-wrapped chicken, sourdough waffles, jack cheese, curry pickles, lettuce, tomato, onion, and mango mayo.

Soul Groove, which began as a chicken-and-waffle sandwich pop-up before opening a brick-and-mortar shop at 422 Larkin Street a few months back, is adding beer and wine to the mix. So far, they've been lunch-only, but shortly, they tell us, they'll be adding later and weekend service, and brunch as well. And just to be clear, that's fried chicken sandwiched between either savory or sweet waffles. So, good brunch food. [Earlier]

First Look at Zoe’s, a New Bistro Opening Thursday on 24th Street [Updated]

Zoe's Bar & Restaurant (3088 24th Street at Folsom), a new French and Italian bistro headed up by a Nigerian-born chef, debuts tomorrow, December 20. It takes over the former El Mexicano bar space, and the decor has an art deco theme, as you can see from the photos, and the logo. Chef Anu Adeboje hails from Chicago, where she grew up cooking from a young age in her family's restaurant business. She's been doing pop-ups around San Francisco recently, and you can see her full Zoe's menu below — you can also check out some preview shots of her her food here.

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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