Posts for February 4, 2013

Actually Pretty Awesome: Dungeness Crab Salad at Haven

Pretty, right?Photo: J. Barmann/Grub Street

It's been a full year since Daniel Patterson and executive chef Kim Alter opened Haven, and just now Jack London Square is coming more alive with the openings of The Forge and Lungomare, creating the kind of critical mass of food spots — along with four-year-old Bocanova and longtime stalwart Scott's — that the long dormant plaza has needed. We just swung back there last week and sampled a few of the things on Alter's winter menu, all of which were as impressively composed and uniquely delicious as we remembered from the opening menu. The star, however, was this seemingly simple Dungeness crab salad.

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Reminder: Hi-Lo BBQ Opens Tonight

The inside of Hi-Lo, with its charred cedar paneling that looks like charcoal.

It was softly open over the weekend, but Hi-Lo BBQ is making its official public debut tonight. As we showed you last week, the burnt-wood paneled temple of BBQ is in a vaulted ceiling space in the former Filipino community center at 3416 19th Street between Mission and Valencia — right across the street from Hog & Rocks, which has the same owners, Scott Youkilis and Dave Esler. The chef is Texas-born Ryan Ostler, and the opening menu is here. It's counter service place, with big communal tables and some smaller ones upstairs, but servers deliver your food and drinks and take orders for more drinks as well. Be sure and check it out, and let us know if you think this is ushering in a new era for California barbecue, or what. [Earlier]

First Look at Lungomare, Opening Thursday in Oakland

Oakland has been on fire since the new year (thankfully not literally) with the openings, with the debuts of Ramen Shop, Duende, and The Forge. Chris Pastena's latest project, Lungomare, in the former Miss Pearl's space in Jack London Square, is on deck for an opening this Thursday, February 7. The name means "waterfront" in Italian, and the remodeled restaurant takes full advantage of its estuary and bay views. The menu (which you can read here) is Italian-centric, and executive chef Craig DiFonzo, previously of Cantinetto Piero in Yountville, is doing intriguing sounding stuff like braised baby octopus with a chickpea cake; trofie (hand-rolled squiggle pasta) with arugula, pesto, and oven-dried tomato; and a Ligurian fish stew with mussels, clams, sea bass, fennel, tomato and kale. Also, there will be wood-fired pizza, and in addition to some meatier selections, he's doing a traditional Ligurian farinata, a cheese-less, farina-based pancake of sorts with rosemary, artichoke, and olives.

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Noe Valley’s Bliss Bar Is On Fire [Updated]

The scene.Photo: Sonia Faleiro

This just in: Bliss Bar (4026 24th Street), a neighborhood bar and lounge in quiet Noe Valley, is on fire and the SFFD is on the scene as we speak. SFist just caught the news via Twitter, and it looks rather serious. We'll let you know if we get any updates on the damage, and hopefully no one was hurt. [SoniaFaleiro/Twitter via SFist] Update: Noe Valley SF has a few more pics, and it does look like the bar was heavily damaged and will be closed for a while, but thankfully no one was injured. [NoeValleySF]

Watch the Teaser for Waffle Hut, a Food-Focused TV Pilot

Welcome to Waffle Hut, a fictional restaurant in Traver, Ohio, where everyone is a talented sketch-comedy veteran. There's Wendi McLendon-Covey (Bridesmaids, Reno 911) as restaurant owner Reba, plus Colleen Camp, Melanie Hutsell (SNL), Beth Crosby, Jack Plotnick, Sam Pancake, and Drew Droege, who is playing a woman who has "deer tick's disease." It's a pilot that was written and directed by William Butler and shot last year, but has only popped up online in the last couple of days. And it appears the show is still up for grabs, so check out the trailer and decide for yourself if Waffle Hut deserved (deserves?) to be picked up for a cable slot.

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In-N-Out Burger Breeds 30-Year-Old Billionairess CEO

Warren Buffet wants a piece

The forces behind In-N-Out Burger are most mysterious, with few snoops getting a glimpse behind the burger chain's privately-owned curtain. Today Bloomberg Businessweek ventures a guess, honing in on whispers surrounding Lynsi Torres, the CEO, President, and First Granddaughter to In-N-Out. This 30-year-old scion was recently named the youngest female billionaire in the U.S., with a fortune valued somewhere over the ten-figure mark. The mysterious Torres has been married three times, doesn't hold a college degree, is really into drag-racing, and inherited about half of the company following the (often untimely) deaths of several of her older relatives, some of whom she's been entangled with in recent legal challenges to the chain's methodical, if leaden, expansion.

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Joshua Skenes Has a Thing or Two to Say About the Tasting Menu Debate

"You have a choice to go where you like. No one says, 'Hey you son of a bitch, you better come to my restaurant now.' People can go where they please. Sure, it can become torturous if you wait too long between courses or it’s filled with a lot of butter, but if a tasting menu is designed keeping in mind that you’re feeding human beings, the diner can get through the meal satisfied and have a great time ... If you look at any restaurant across the world that really truly buys the very best things, they’re all just one menu a night. ... Ultimately, it’s the diner’s vote. If you don’t like a tasting menu, then [you] can chose to go somewhere else." — Saison chef Joshua Skenes responding to critics like Pete Wells and Corby Kummer complaining of tasting menu fatigue. [Zagat]

Takeru Kobayashi Reduced to Pay-for-Play Stunt Eating at Low-Rent Frat Parties

So, speaking of Nathan's Famous, last night six-time Hot Dog Eating Contest champion Takeru Kobayashi ate a Domino's pizza at some dude's Super Bowl party. He was paid $1,500 for this, Deadspin reports, and as you can see in the video ahead, the competitive eater almost doesn't pull it off. Also, a vaguely xenophobic beer-chugging contest went down after this. Awesome.

"Thirty seconds!" »

Michael Bauer Enjoys the Interior, Less So the Food, at Hakkasan

The bar at Hakkasan.

Mr. Bauer's thoughts on the swanky new downtown Chinese spot Hakkasan (One Kearny Street) arrived in Sunday's paper, and they're not all that positive. He appreciates the luxurious setting and the ascent to the second-floor dining room, which begs comparisons to Cecilia Chiang's long shuttered Mandarin at Ghirardelli Square. But he finds "obsequious" but "uneven" service, a Vegas-y air about the place, and food that is "generally fine, but [not] any better than you would get at a neighborhood dive," and at four times the price. He loves a dish of prawns with lily buds, almonds, and a green Thai curry-like sauce; a few of the tofu dishes; and a $28 duck salad. But he says the Hakka noodles are "drowned in a slick of oil that recalls Panda Express," and he has a few meat dishes that are less than stellar. All told: a so-so two stars overall, with one and a half for food. [Chron, Earlier slideshow]

Ragazza Adds Heated Gazebo on Back Patio

There's a cool new solution to the nighttime chill in the air over at Ragazza (311 Divisadero) in the form of an Australian-made, radiant-heat "umbrella" that warms their new gazebo. And apparently thing is engineered to heat people without heating the air, so the partially enclosed gazebo doesn't get swelteringly hot. There's an eight-top out there, and you can book the whole thing for a private event. [Haighteration]

Jeremy Fox Joins Rustic Canyon

The Fox is finally out of the bag! Confirming what many knew, but the restaurant was cagey about confirming, Jeremy Fox is now heading up the kitchen at Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb's Rustic Canyon, the seasonal Santa Monica restaurant that pulled this Ubuntu veteran away from his "Old Soul" pop-up at Square One. No details are yet to be released on Fox's vision for the restaurant, but he tells The L.A. Times , "I finally feel right at home, like this is exactly where I am meant to be. I'll slowly be changing the menu over the next few weeks." [LAT; Eater; Earlier]

Chefs Who Served Whale Sushi Are Going to Jail

Spicy blubber rolls: Not worth the jail time.

In 2010, the documentarian-activist team behind the Academy award–winning movie The Cove
— which exposed the cruelty and the clandestine practice of dolphin-slaughter in Japan — made waves stateside when they revealed that a popular sushi restaurant near the Santa Monica Airport was serving endangered whale meat in plain sight. After two undercover diners at the Hump were offered "pink broad slices" of what turned out to be Sei whale, the team circled back with federal agents. While for a moment it seemed like charges might be dropped, a federal jury last week indicted the owners of the restaurant's parent company and two former sushi chefs for conspiracy to import and sell an endangered species. In addition to the parent company facing fines of up to $1.2 million, one of the two chefs may serve 67 years in federal prison. [LAT, Earlier, Earlier]

Pizza Perfection: 101 Awesome American Pies (and Slices)

It must be hell to be a carbophobe these days, particularly in New York. After all, you can't swing a cat in this town without hitting a delicately crisp, brightly flavored, meticulously crafted pizza. All over the city, you can see these tortured souls muddling through their starch-free lives, battling temptation at every turn.

That goes for the rest of the USA, too. »

Restaurant Gives $4 Discount for ‘Well-Behaved Kids’

Still doesn't cover the tax.

If you haven't been reading your restaurant receipts closely, start now. Receipt rants are all the rage these days, and whether you're offended or flattered, you'll certainly have a viral Reddit hit on your hands. A waiter at the Sogno Di Vino restaurant in Poulsbo, Washington, apparently gave a customer a $4 discount for having "well-behaved kids." Isn't that expected when you bring your children out to a nice Italian restaurant and wine bar? [Earlier, MSN]


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