Posts for January 21, 2013

Bauer Kind of Hates The Sea by Alexander’s Steakhouse; Unterman Adores Bar Tartine; Hirsch Discovers Bro Meals

Michael Bauer is put off from the start by The Sea by Alexander's Steakhouse, that mouthful of a new restaurant that took over the former Trader Vic's in Palo Alto. He describes its corporate feel, and an entrance , and a pretentious waiter who clearly didn't know who he was dealing with. "Practically without a hello, the waiter launched into an interpretive monologue of the menu, describing the format as if it would otherwise be unfamiliar — Hot Appetizers, Cold Appetizers, the Land and the Sea Entrées. Then he went through a soliloquy of the house specialities, the most expensive items." Oh, brother. Needless to say he's very put off by the prices, with main dishes ranging from $32 to $62, and none of the preparations justify them. He writes, ominously, before launching into some sad dish descriptions, "The house-made bread, in fact, was the highlight of the three meals." The verdict: One and a half stars, with one star for food. [Chron]

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NFL Studio’s Chris Berman Spotted at Presidio Social Club; Garrison Keillor Dines at Ella’s


It's the apex of football season right now, and the Niners are in the Super Bowl! Yay! So, one of our celebrity sightings this past week was sportscaster and NFL studio host Chris Berman, who was spotted at Presidio Social Club enjoying dinner with a group of old friends. He apparently had the meatloaf, and a glass of Chardonnay. Sadly for Colin Kaepernick fans, he seems to do most of his eating down in San Jose.

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Charles Phan Would Like to Come Back as Tom Cruise

CBS 5's Liam Mayclem recently sat down with Slanted Door chef/restaurateur Charles Phan for one of his Foodie Chap segments. Phan is soon opening Hard Water on Pier 3, and in February he'll debut his new café at the SFJAZZ center, South — which will open first for breakfast only. Watch the video, in which Mayclem asks Phan his "five tasty questions," including "What would you be if you came back in another life as something other than a chef?" The answer: Tom Cruise.

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Guy Fieri to Open Winery and Event Space in Sonoma

Guy Fieri, who grew up in rural Humboldt County, California and opened his first restaurant in Sonoma in 1996 before becoming a TV celebrity, is now branching out into the wine business. A year ago he bought a piece of property in Santa Rosa with five acres of vineyard on it, and as the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports, he's planning to attach a public tasting room to an existing house (lately used as a crash pad for his friends), and use the place for wine-related events throughout the year. Whether the labels on his estate wines will have his spiky-haired mug on them, and whether they'll be called Pimpin' Pinot and Rockin' Rosé, remains to be seen.

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Maverick Offering High-End Fried Chicken Buckets, Starting Tonight

Far better than KFC.

Maverick (3316 17th Street) is offering a new, limited-quantity Monday deal that allows fans of their excellent fried chicken to take some home. It's called the "It's Monday, Bucket," and for $25 you get four pieces of chicken, pickled green beans, "gumbo" gravy, and a buttermilk biscuit. And while that's billed as a dinner for two, we know more than a few people who could polish all that off by themselves, new year's resolutions be damned.

Chris Cosentino Believes In the Circle of Life

"An egg is the beginning of life, oysters are all-encompassing, and blood is stuff of life. It’s a very powerful, personal dish with a lot of meaning." —The Top Chef Masters winner on his "last meal" dish of blood sausage, oysters, and duck egg. He sometimes serves it at his San Francisco restaurant, Incanto. [First We Feast]

More on Twin Peaks Tavern, the Landmark Castro Bar Affectionately Called ‘The Glass Coffin’

Twin PeaksPhoto: Stephen Kelly/Flickr

The Castro's most iconic bar, and one of its oldest, just received historic landmark status from the Board of Supervisors last week. Twin Peaks Tavern has been a bar since 1935, and has been a gay bar under its current lesbian owners since 1972. As the Chronicle reports, owners Mary Ellen Cunha and Peggy Forster uncovered all those windows because they simply "wanted to look out," and because gay bars were still subject to raids by the police, they instituted a "no touching" rule, which meant it had to be more of a casual lounge than a pick-up bar, which it remains today. It has earned the nickname The Glass Coffin because of its predominantly older clientele, but within the neighborhood that name comes with a certain amount of endearment. People who love the bar, and who go there frequently, often use the nickname with pride. [Chron, Earlier, Earlier still]

Check Out the Menu at Duende, Now Open in Oakland


As Oaklanders likely know, Duende (19th and Telegraph) finally opened last week. We shared some photos of the handsome space two weeks back, and today we finally lay our hands on the opening menu. See it all below, including former Oliveto chef Paul Canales's Spanish tapas and paella offerings, and the drink list as well from beverage director Rocco Somazzi.

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There's Actually Going To Be A Little Kids Cooking Show

Look out, Ms. Cleo. Last week, we pleaded for some unscrupulous network to just get it all over with and turn L.A.'s emerging trend of little kid chefs into another dispensable reality show. Now, Eater L.A. is reporting just such a thing is really, actually going to happen. Junior MasterChef, a U.S. version of an existing U.K. and Aussie show, is currently looking for kids eight to thirteen years old with a passion for cooking, with the additional squeam-inducing request for parents to "bring out that inner pushy stage mum and help your kid try out." One has to wonder if this kind of thing is really necessary. After all, hasn't Guy Fieri already been impersonating a rambunctious thirteen-year-old for years? [Eater]

Waiter Risks His Job to Defend a Special-Needs Child

Michael Garcia at Laurenzo’s Prime Rib in Houston.

When Michael Garcia overhead a regular insult a 5-year-old customer with Down syndrome at Laurenzo’s Prime Rib in Houston, he didn't stay quiet. "My personal feelings just took over,” he told KTRK. “And I told this man, 'I'm sorry, I can't serve you.'" As the boy chatted with his family and the restaurant staff about his recent birthday, a group of customers at a nearby table got up and moved to the back of the restaurant. After Garcia overheard one patron say, "Special needs children need to be special somewhere else," he flat-out refused to serve the table, and the customers promptly left the restaurant. Someone give this man a raise. [NYDN]

Bullitt/Tonic Guys to Open Yet Another Bar, Wild Hare [Updated]

Solstice Lounge

The Bullitt/Tonic/Lightning/ Mayhem team of Duncan Ley and Benjamin Bleiman can not be stopped. After taking over their sixth bar last fall, Soda Popinski's (1548 California at Polk), we now see them working on a seventh project, via the liquor licenses. The working name is Wild Hare, and it's heading for the Solstice Lounge space at 2801 California Street (at Divisadero). They're working with another partner here, Mark DeVito, and they will likely follow their tried and true formula of moving in, doing a little remodeling, adding some Fernet on tap, and welcoming in a new neighborhood crowd. It's unclear when Soltice may close, but likely after the license transfers. And while this is their seventh project to date, it will really be their sixth full-time neighborhood bar — Rebel transitioned to being more of an event venue in the fall, and now the bar is only open on nights when there are shows or events, like Heklina's ongoing drag version of Sex & the City.*

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What Can We Call "Two-Buck Chuck" Now That The Price Is Changing?

Bid adieu to "Two-Buck Chuck"Photo: Kables/Flickr

Big news in bargain belligerence this weekend, as Trader Joe's announces a 25% price-hike for its notorious best-seller, Charles Shaw wine, better known to the wino-world as "Two-Buck Chuck." The company cites increased costs as the reason for this 50-cent spike in the price, with only California stores guaranteed to be affected by the change. Somehow, it's hard to see this really mattering to the budget-conscious consumers of Fred Franzia's infamous wines. Much more concerning is what we're going to call the stuff now.

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Unsuccessful Starbucks Robber Leaves Store With Coffee

"Please leave room for milk."

Police say a Huntsville, Alabama man entered a Starbucks bright and early yesterday morning and demanded cash from the nearest barista, who regretfully informed him that the register drawer was stuck and would not open. Robber Phillip Sawdey was offered a coffee instead. Police arrested him in the parking lot, drink in hand. Sawdey was charged with venti larceny, though the charges will likely be dropped to "grande" in court. [WHNT]

Padma Leash Me Makes Her Debut on SNL’s ‘Top Dog Chef’

Saturday Night Live spoofed Top Chef this weekend by turning the show's cast into puppies. Tom Collie-cio ordered the contestants to make a dish out of ingredients from a torn-open garbage bag. The challenge's obstacle? A ringing doorbell at random intervals. Host Jennifer Lawrence put her Golden Globe–award-winning acting chops to good use by playing a dog who puts "a whisper of urine" on top of her brunch dish. Mario Barktali loved it.

Woof. »


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