Posts for January 16, 2013

Charles Phan’s South at SFJAZZ Opens Monday; Berkeley’s Caffe Venezia Closing After 33 Years

Hayes Valley: Charles Phan's South at SFJAZZ, the café/concession at the new music venue that opens Monday, January 21, now has a menu. It's snacky and has a southern bent, with things like andouille and fried alligator, which may give a hint of what he has planned for Hard Water at Pier 3, also due to open soon. [Eater]
Berkeley: Berkeleyside broke the news yesterday that 33-year-old Caffe Venezia is closing. [Berkeleyside]
Also, Sliver Pizzeria is now open at 2132 Center Street, and besides making pizza they want to end human trafficking. Ah, Berkeley. [Berkeleyside]
Sausalito: Poggio is once again doing its Monday through Wednesday, wintertime bollito misto special. It comes served from a cart, and it's quite delicious. [Tablehopper]

Chop Bar’s Chris Pastena May Own Four More Restaurants By Next Year

We think this is the building he's talking about at 17th and Telegraph.

Oakland chef and restaurateur Chris Pastena is one busy dude. The Scoop just did an interview with him, just as he's preparing to open Lungomare in the former Miss Pearl's, and Tribune Tavern after that, and he reveals that he's actually got two more restaurants in the works after that, bringing his total to five including Chop Bar. Whether or not they all actually become realities is another story. But first, Labna (its tentative name), is a Mexican restaurant that could open a year from now in a new section of the Broadway Grand project that hasn't been built yet. He and his partner are also finalizing a deal to buy a small former theater up the street at Telegraph and 17th, where they want to open a bar and café. Before that come the two places he's opening this season, which are both funded by a single investor. [Scoop]

Gold Dust Lounge Prepping February Debut at Fisherman’s Wharf

A rendering of the new bar.Photo: via Gold Dust Lounge

The Gold Dust Lounge, which was the subject of a very public fight between its owners and landlord last year as it was getting evicted from its arguably historic Union Square digs, has scheduled its reopening in its new space at 165 Jefferson Street for February 1. It's still under construction, but as you can see from this photo of the new wallpaper, they are trying to bring in as much Victorian/Barbary Coast charm to the new Fisherman's Wharf space as they can. The place already had a "christening" of sorts in December, and they're trying to have a grand opening by that Friday, so that they're open in time for Super Bowl Sunday, on February 3. [Facebook via Tablehopper, Earlier]

Chez Panisse Café Offering Late-Night Steak-and-Wine Deal

Deals like this don't come around so often at Chez Panisse Café, so listen up. They're offering a two-course prix fixe with wine, perhaps to lure a younger audience, after 9:30 p.m. on weeknights. You get a grass-fed steak, onion rings, watercress salad, and a glass of Zinfandel all for $25, and that's Monday through Thursday only. [EBX, Scoop]

Volunteers Rescue 1,000 Restaurant-Bound Cats From Delivery Truck in China

The back of the truck in Changsha.Photo: Reuters

More than four dozen animal lovers in China sprang into action earlier this week when they heard that a truck freighted with more than 1,000 cats on their way to be sold to restaurants had become disabled after a traffic accident on a Changsha highway on Monday.

Twenty-five cats kept in a tiny cage. »

Mr. Pollo No Longer Has Its Chef

Roxy's Cafe, which was just a smoothie shop.Photo: Luis C./Yelp

As reported in November, Manny Torres Gimenez, the young chef who's been doing some ambitious and very inexpensive food the last couple years out of a tiny hole called Mr. Pollo in the Mission, had expanded down the street with an Italian prix fixe menu at Roxy's Café (2847 Mission Street). It turns out the move was not an expansion but a negotiation tactic, and eventually a Plan B — the landlord at Mr. Pollo wanted to raise his rent, and after Gimenez refused, the operation has continued with one of Gimenez's cooks and Gimenez's menu, but without Gimenez. As he tells the Scoop today, "I’m going be the bigger man and not do anything." Instead, he's cooking full time now at Roxy's, which is three times larger, but where he has to use all induction burners and pans. Still, as is his wont, he's keeping it ambitious, cooking with Asian and Latin American influences as well as Italian, and offering both a three-course menu for $25 and a ten-course menu for $75. And so far, he's doing everything himself, including wash dishes. [Scoop, Earlier]

Truck Stop Café Continues Its Death-Row ‘Last Meals’ Series Tonight With Cassoulet

Godby's cassoulet.Photo: Jake Godby

Truck Stop Café, the "occasional restaurant/ full-time shitshow" at Truck (1500 Folsom) from chef Jake Godby of Humphry Slocombe fame, began a series last fall of "blue plate specials" based on the last meals of death row inmates. The kickoff special, based on the last meal of In Cold Blood killers Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, was shimp salad, French fries, and garlic bread. Tonight, Godby's back with the final meal of a French murderer, Hamida Djandoubi, who was the last person ever guillotined in France in 1971. Djandoubi's last meal? Cassoulet, and Godby's version is with duck and lamb, and comes with Tunisian vegetable slaw and orange-almond cake, all for $18. See the full menu here. The fun goes from 6 to 10 p.m., after which Truck turns back into a bar again. [Facebook]

Hillside Supper Club Opens January 24 in Bernal Heights

The space, formerly known as Caffe CozzolinoPhoto: Courtesy of Hillside Supper Club

Hillside Supper Club, as we learned last month, is making its full-time, brick-and-mortar debut next week after being a pop-up in the same location (300 Precita Avenue) for the last year. The space has been known as Caffe Cozzolino for about fifteen years, and the owners of that business decided to turn over the reins to up-and-coming chefs Jonathan Sutton and Tony Ferrari, who have long dreamed of opening their own place after years working the lines at Acquerello, Michael Mina, and Jean-George Vongerichten's J&G Steakhouse in D.C., between them, as well as numerous stints in European kitchens. "We're extremely excited," Ferrari tells us. "And the community of Bernal Heights has just been the most amazing place to open a restaurant. It's like a little village, and everyone's been so supportive."

Read more »

Shockers: Nutrition Crusaders Say Cheesecake Factory, IHOP, Others Are Palaces of Fat

Just got home from dinner.Photo: istockphoto

Last year, Men's Health anointed the Cheesecake Factory's Bistro Shrimp Pasta, a carb-y tangle of pasta and crispy shrimp awash in cream sauce, America's most gut-bustingly disgusting meal. Now the Center for Science in the Public Interest named it to their list of Xtreme Eating “dis-honorees” — they estimate that the sodium-soaked batter platter is 3,120 calories. That's three Olive Garden lasagnas! Also on CSPI's black list: Johnny Rocket's bacon-cheddar double burger, IHOP's country-fried steak 'n eggs, and Maggiano's veal porterhouse. But if their goal is outrage, they're x-tremely misguided.

Read more »

An Update on Roka Akor, Due by Summer

Roka Akor Chicago

Last we heard, upscale sushi spot and Japanese steakhouse Roka Akor was due by spring in the former Scott Howard and Zinnia space at 500 Jackson. They're moving the address to a door around the corner and calling it 801 Montgomery, in order to avoid the "curse" that closed those other two restaurants and several others, and SF Mag now reports that they're now aiming to open by summer. Roka Akor currently has locations in Chicago and Scottsdale, Arizona — it's actually the North American off-shoot of the London-based Roka — and you can get a feeling for the menu and pricing here. Suffice it to say it's not quite Hakkasan expensive, but a twelve-ounce New York Strip with truffle aioli will run you $48, and a "decadent" omakase menu is $128 per person. [SF Mag, Earlier]

Better Boozing: Twelve Bartender-Approved Secret Cocktail Ingredients

And your hangover will be extra fancy, too.

Building out a great home bar is a long-game prospect: It takes time to prune a respectable collection of first-string spirits and mixing gear. But once you’re suited up with all the strapping English gins, malty genevers, chewy mezcals, and rare whiskeys your Ikea shelving unit can handle, what then? In the service of ambitious amateur cocktail savants everywhere, we asked a dozen bartenders to reveal the ingredients they trot out when a drink needs to go to the next level. Read on for alcoholic obscura and game-changing modifiers that will give even your simplest at-home highballs a pro-level boost.

"It smells like a truck stop ... and pours the color of death." »

Little Star Expanding to Grand Avenue in Oakland [Updated]

Photo: Courtesy of Little Star

This morning's liquor licenses bring us the news of Little Star Pizza owner John Guhl laying claim to a spot with a full liquor license on Oakland's Grand Avenue. It's the space currently occupied by Milano Ristorante at 3425 Grand, so that restaurant looks not long for this world. We should note that the DBA this time is The Star, perhaps because a full bar will be involved, but it's not clear that that will be the name of the new restaurant. Guhl and partner Brian Sadigursky opened their first on what was then a very quiet stretch of Divisadero in 2004, opening a second a two years later at Mission and 15th, and later expanding to Albany.*

Read more »

Michelin-Starred Chef Endorses McDonald’s McBaguette

Pierre Koffmann, the French-born chef who's received three Michelin stars for both La Tante Claire and Waterside Inn in London, loves the newest item on the McDonald's menu in France. The McBaguette, which is filled with cheese, ham, potato, lettuce, and mayo, is the company's attempt to appeal to local tastes; after the U.S., France is McDonald's most profitable market. Koffmann, who we really hope is getting paid generously for this endorsement, says he'd choose the "good bread" from McDonald's over local vendors. But shockingly, he does admit that it's "not the top bread in Paris." Michelin guide inspectors, please note. [Bloomberg]

Some of U.K. Retailer Tesco’s Hamburgers Are Actually 29 Percent Horsemeat

Not cool.

The British hypermarket chain Tesco has been selling a line of frozen hamburgers that are ostensibly made from beef, but many of those all-natural patties are actually part horse, and one recently tested sample was actually 29 percent horse meat, the Telegraph reports, citing an investigation conducted by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. In addition to burgers, meat pies and frozen lasagnas were tested, and most of these products were found to contain DNA from pigs.

Read more »

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