Posts for January 29, 2013

Behold the New Saison, Opening February 1

The time has come, ladies and gentlemen, for the new Saison. The restaurant is awakening from its two-month slumber on Friday, February 1, in brand new digs at 178 Townsend Street (at Third). The new, airy kitchen and dining space is in the front portion of a former industrial building, the California Electric Light Co. Building, built in 1888. And in designing the new restaurant, chef-owner Joshua Skenes wanted to evaporate the dividing line between kitchen and dining room once and for all. The acclaimed Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare may be one big chef's counter, but Skenes is already done with that trend. He's aiming for something equally theatrical but more luxurious, with the seating area blending into the kitchen, and sous chefs moving through the room to fetch things out of walk-ins and grab firewood from the eight-foot stack by the door, and also delivering and describing dishes as needed. We brought you a sneak peek before the holidays, but now we bring you a look at the fully finished, and furnished space.

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Where to Get Batched Cocktails on Tap

We've been aware of the phenomenon of tap cocktails for a while now, pouring out of a spout like wine or beer, but two's a trend! Following the lead of Kevin Diedrich at Jasper's Corner Tap, where they've had pre-mixed Negronis on tap since they opened two years ago, Grand Café also has both straight Chartreuse, and a Chartreuse-and-Cognac-enhanced Old Fashioned on tap now too. And Jasper's has a rotating spout which currently pours the Grand Promenade (Wild Turkey 81 Rye, Applejack, Benedictine, yellow Chartreuse). Now if only this trend would catch on further in our city's more slowly moving bars... perhaps someone should take a cue from Chicago's Scott Huth, who keeps eight cocktails, including two carbonated ones, on tap at Tavernita. Huth and Diedrich actually taught a class together at last year's Tales of the Cocktail, so hopefully more bar folk were listening. [SFist]

Sneak a Taste of the Food at The Cook & Her Farmer and Box & Bells at Pop-Ups Next Month

Several upcoming pop-ups will give East Bay foodinistas a preview of the menus at both Romney Steele's upcoming The Cook and Her Farmer — slated to open, maybe, by late spring in Old Oakland — and James Syhabout's Box & Bells — coming to 5912 College Avenue in Rockridge around the same time. First up, Steele is doing a series of pop-ups at Guerrilla Cafe (1620 Shattuck Avenue), and Luke Tsai at the East Bay Express just went to one on Friday. Steele tells him that she's looking to create a restaurant without "much fuss," and as you can see from the pop-up meal menu, the focus is, as promised, seafood, Tomales Bay oysters, and a main-dish "platter salad." The next two Cook and Her Farmer meals will be on February 8 and February 22.

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Ex-49er Kwame Harris Charged in Domestic Violence Incident at Menlo Park Restaurant

Harris's booking shot.

A fight over soy sauce at a Chinese restaurant turned into a violent dispute between former 49er (and Oakland Raider) Kwame Harris and his ex-boyfriend, Dimitri Geier, and Harris appeared in court yesterday to face felony charges of domestic violence. The incident happened last August at Su Hong restaurant in Menlo Park, as Harris was getting set to drive Geier to the airport, and details of the case have outed Harris, who had not previously been open about his sexuality.

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Now There’s Mexican Fernet

Appearing on a menu near you, soon.Photo: via Chow

Next up on the radars of cocktail geeks, we predict, will be Fernet-Vallet, from Mexico. An importer from San Francisco first discovered the Mexican-style amaro being dribbled into drinks, like bitters, at a dive bar in Guadalajara — namely a drink called the Nalga Rosa, or Pink Testicle*, which is (ahem) rum, vodka, grenadine, Fernet-Vallet, and orange Fanta. It turns out, as Chow reports, the stuff is over 150 years old, and it's been a popular additive for a long time to Mexico City highballs, which typically feature bottom-shelf booze and neon-colored sodas. Fernet-Vallet is "just as antiseptically bitter" as the popular Fernet-Branca (which in case you didn't know has a lengthy history in San Francisco), but it's smoother, less minty, and more viscous, like a syrup. In related news, Haas Brothers importers in S.F. are now importing the Vallet family's version of Angostura bitters, as well as Fernet-Vallet. [Chow, Earlier]

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Border Patrol: Taco Bell Confirms New Flavor of Doritos Locos Tacos

Cool Ranch Doritos, making a run for the border.

The world has been waiting with bated, nacho-cheese-y breath to see how Taco Bell would duplicate its extraordinary success through the wizardry of Frito-Lay-flavored taco shells. Today Greg Creed, the Bell's wild and crazy CEO, previewed the chain's new Super Bowl ad for CBS. Since the commercial's stale setup of old people tasting a product and acting young again sort of hit its apex already with 1985's Cocoon, Creed had no choice but to then resort to spilling some industry secrets as the segment arrived at its long-awaited end. "We've got Cool Ranch. That's coming ... That's my tease," the suit admitted to Gayle King about the next taco barreling down the fast-food Mexican pipeline. (Guess those tests last summer worked out.) Great news, since everyone knows Cool Ranch is basically the best flavor of Doritos out there. So, when can we try one?

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7x7 Unveils a New and Different Big Eat List

Rich Table's sardine chips.

For this year's annual revision of 7x7's Big Eat list, a.k.a., "100 Things to Try Before You Die," they overhauled things and jettisoned some of the standards that had stuck on the list for several years running, under the new editorship of Lady Tablehopper, Marcia Gagliardi. There are a total of 80 new dishes on there, some of which are just new items from restaurants that already had spots on the list, and some are brand new, like the sardine chips at Rich Table, the "state bird with provisions" at State Bird Provisions, and the margherita pizza at Una Pizza Napoletana (former editor Sara Deseran was more of a fan of Pizzeria Delfina). Gagliardi may have stepped away from her part-time role at the magazine, but this project was still in the hopper, so to speak, since the fall. For comparison, check out the 2012 list, and the 2011 list, which contain plenty of must-eat standards, like the sand dabs at Tadich Grill, and the focaccia at Liguria Bakery. [7x7]

S.F.’s Gay Sports Bar Hi Tops Lands in Sports Illustrated’s Super Bowl Preview

A photo of two gay 49ers fans making out at the bar at Hi Tops (2247 Market Street) appears on page 48 of the latest issue of Sports Illustrated. It's a first for the magazine, for sure, and huge exposure for the bar and the very concept of LGBT sports fans, especially when you consider this is the Super Bowl preview issue and one of the most read issues of the year. The magazine sent a photographer and writer to cover the scene at Hi Tops on January 20, which had a packed house all day for both the NFC and AFC championship games, and photographer Deanne Fitzmaurice snapped the photo from behind the bar at the moment of victory. As owner Jesse Woodward tells NBC Bay Area, "Sports fans come from all walks of life, and we're a great big melting pot here."

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James Deen Redefines Food Porn

No relation to Paula.Photo:

Sex-industry sweetheart James Deen stars in a video food blog on the porn site Though the website itself is obviously NSFW, the "James Deen Loves Food" series is surprisingly PG-13. Watch him make liquid nitrogen ice cream, order everything on Burger King's menu, and re-create the last meals of death-row inmates. The latter is where things get really weird: The porn-star-next-door (turned actor in The Canyons with Lindsay Lohan) is obsessed with serial killers John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy. Hollywood has clearly corrupted Deen. But at the end of the day, he's just a boy, eating empanadas at Johnny Pacific, and cruising through the Del Taco drive-through. Deen's going so mainstream, he may just be the next Paula. [First We Feast]

Juhu Beach Club Aiming for March 1 Opening in Temescal

Mistry organizing her spices in the new space.Photo: Courtesy of Preeti Mistry

Just after the new year we learned that chef Preeti Mistry had found a new space for her Indian street food-inspired Juhu Beach Club, in the former SR24 space at 5179 Telegraph Avenue in Oakland's Temescal district. The space, as she tells the East Bay Express, is larger than she'd wanted, but it had the advantage of being up to code and basically turnkey. And after she moved to Oakland and watched all the openings happen there last year, "It seemed like the obvious choice was to open here." The plan is to open for lunch only starting around March 1, with dinner service to follow as soon as her liquor license clears. And the menu will feature slider sizes of her pav bhaji sandwiches, several varieties of curry, spicy chicken wings, and something she's calling Mom’s Guju Chili which is based on a traditional recipe for mung bean soup, but which her American friends kept saying was like chili. Stay tuned for more as the opening approaches. [EBX, Earlier]

OpenTable Will Buy Foodspotting for $10 Million

Sadly, the new company will not be called OpenFoodTableSpotting.

Score one for the imperiled practice of taking food photos at the table! The online restaurant reservation service OpenTable is buying Foodspotting, the food-photo-based social media network app, for $10 million, reports Bits. Turns out the food photography platform is data-rich: Foodspotting has a database of 3 million photographs and is growing at a "few hundred thousand photos" each month, the blog says. But since OpenTable is all about the business of making reservations, and Foodspotting allows its users the chance to virtually share their meals, how will the companies integrate?

"Mind if I set up my tripod right here?" »

Sparrow Bar & Kitchen Coming to Former Bia's in Upper Haight [Updated]

That mystery restaurant we mentioned taking over the former Bia's at 1640 Haight appears to have a name: Sparrow Bar & Kitchen. The word comes to us as the liquor license is coming through, and the landlord had previously told Uppercasing that this place would open in February, complete with new back deck. That is all for now. [Earlier] Update: Uppercasing finds out more details, and we now see they have a website set up with sample menus and everything. As it happens, the couple opening, Marc and Veronica, it have been tenants upstairs for eight years, and they've enlisted chef Ola Fendert (from Oola) to consult on the menu.

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The Bocuse d’Or 2013 Has Begun

Rosendale: He's got his head in the game.Photo: Bocuse d'Or

The culinary chops of several nations' finest cooks are being tested today and tomorrow at the Bocuse d'Or in Lyon, France, and team USA — Richard Rosendale and his commis Corey Siegel, who hail from West Virginia's Greenbrier resort — have been preparing for a year and are now in competition. The world's greatest chefs are waiting to judge; Iceland's meat platters are being presented; and someone, somewhere is serving gargantuan quenelles de brochet. How will Rosendale and Siegel fare at the Bocuse d'Or? Tune in live to find out. [Bocuse d'Or, Earlier]

Ben & Jerry’s Unveils 30 Rock Flavor

"Well, the theme-restaurant business model does work. NASCAR's Fat Load Cafe is a gold mine." — Jack

From Alec Baldwin's Schweddy Balls to Jimmy Fallon's Late Night Snack, it was only a matter of time before Ben & Jerry's honored another comedic legend with an ice-cream flavor. It's basically the American version of knighting. NBC's 30 Rock comes to an end this Thursday, but don't fret: You can catch your tears in a pint. Co-founder Jerry Greenfield will announce details of the flavor at the finale viewing party, but if we had to guess, it'll include the following ingredients: Sandwich scraps (for Liz), paper (for Jenna's Japanese-porn-star diet), pig (for that time Kenneth ate Harold), additional meat (made in Tracy's meat machine), and Cheesy Blasters. The flavor must be named Adultaraisin, because that's the name of Tracy's fictional Ben & Jerry's flavor. Or at least Muffin Top, after Jenna's No. 4 single in Belgium. [Vulture, HuffPo]

Men Arrested for $65,000 Chicken-Wing Heist

Follow the celery sticks!

You may have heard that chicken-wing prices are up to an all-time high of $2.11 per pound. Since the Super Bowl is this weekend, and desperate times call for desperate measures, it sort of makes sense that two men pulled off a brazen, high-stakes theft of $65,000-worth of frozen Tyson chicken wings from the cold storage facility where they worked in Doraville, Georgia.

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Taylor Swift’s Future Breakup Lyrics About Diet Coke

Fake sugar doesn't lead to real love, T Swizzle.

This weekend, Taylor Swift announced her partnership with Diet Coke, which is "one of the great loves" of her life. If Taylor's prior relationships are telling, the inevitable end of this endorsement deal is going to be hella emotional. America's sweetheart will cope the only way she knows how — she'll write depressing songs about her ex. The tunes will make us all a little uncomfortable, but they're so damn catchy that we'll bop our heads and smile at her heartbreak. Diet Coke, that bastard.

"All you're ever gonna be is aspartemean." »


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