Posts for February 25, 2013

Gather’s New S.F. Spot Gets a Name; West of Pecos Swaps Chefs

Polk Gulch: The new Gather project coming to the former Cafe Rex/Marbella space (2323 Polk Street), hopefully by summer, will be named Verbena. [Scoop, Earlier]
FiDi: Here's an illustrated look at more of Hakkasan's menu. [Foodhoe]
Mission: August Schuchman has quietly replaced Leo Varos as chef at West of Pecos, and has already tweaked the menu. [Scoop]
Marina: Remember how Don Pisto's Peter Mrabe recently snapped up the former Gatip Thai space (2205 Lombard Street)? Well, it turns out he'll be using it for an expansion of Chubby Noodle, the fried chicken and noodle pop-up he's been doing at Amante in North Beach. [Tablehopper]

Tonight Is the Last Chance for Crab at Camino

Tonight marks the final Monday night prix fixe Dungeness crab feed at Camino. It's $38 for three courses, beginning with a crab soup with green garlic, and half a crab, grilled in the wood fire, served with grilled flatbread, chiles, and carrot and beet salads. Finish things off with bay leaf ice cream with jaggery syrup. (You can also make it a full crab for $13 more.)

Mission Hill Saloon ‘Reverse Gentrifies,’ Regulars Return

Grub Street

Last winter we brought you the news of a change of ownership at longtime Potrero dive, the Mission Hill Saloon (491 Potrero at Mariposa). The team behind Dear Mom and Thieves Tavern took the place over, spiffed it up with some new lighting and reclaimed wood, and rechristened it The Unresolved Love Life of Evelyn Lee — a name that had something to do with a friend named Evelyn Lee, and which annoyed the regulars at the bar to no end. Now Uptown Almanac reports on the "the first case of a neighborhood bar reverse gentrifying in a long, long time," in which said regulars and some former bartenders and staff have returned and bought back the bar, after the new owners failed to bring in enough of a new clientele to survive. And they shot some video as they pulled the Evelyn Lee signage down, and made jokes about pooping on it. [Uptown Almanac]

Ike's Place Reluctantly May Have a Few Dodgers Sandwiches When It Comes to L.A.

Apparently, even their good sandwiches look like bad burritos up there

As Grub Street noted back in 2011, Ike's Place, a popular purveyor of big, messy sandwiches in San Francisco, is coming to L.A. The restaurant catapulted to fame after appearing on Man Vs. Food, which generally sets the tone for these monstrosities from the north that are named for pop culture figures like Pee-Wee Herman and Al Bundy and are popular with twenty-something bros who consider finishing one some kind of an accomplishment. In any case, we could always use another hearty lunch option, but will Angelenos actually be able to swallow sandwiches named for locally abhorred San Francisco Giants like Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner?

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Which ‘Hood Gets Messiest After Midnight: Polk Street, North Beach, or The Marina?

Here's to never letting college end.

Neighbors on and around Polk Street are getting fed up with drunken revelers caterwauling into the night and urinating on their front steps, but is this just the trade-off they have to cope with now that the neighborhood has gentrified into one of the city's prime party corridors? That's the question asked by the Chron in a piece discussing the latest push by some residents both to cap new liquor licenses and do whatever else they can to stem the tide of vomit they now face every weekend night. The complaints, of course, are not new, but they insult bar owners like Duncan Ley, a partner in two of the first bars that were part of the lastest wave to this area: Bullitt and Tonic. He argues that everyone is quick to forget how seedy Polk Street was for decades until he and others started moving in around 2006. "The neighborhood cleanup came on the backs of those bars and restaurants," he says.

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The Highlights From Anthony Bourdain’s Reddit Ask Me Anything

Wasn't a big fan of Bradley Cooper at first.Photo: Taylor Hill/Getty Images

As promised, Anthony Bourdain hit Reddit today for one of the site's Ask Me Anythings. He's got a lot of projects in the works, so there was plenty to talk about, and to his credit, he took on all Taste-related sell-out questions head-on. To spare you having to deal with Reddit's UI, we've culled the best responses, straight ahead.

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New Hotel With Restaurant Possibly on the Way to Fourth Street

A rendering of the new building.Photo: Axis Architecture + Design via Planning

A new project coming up for a approval by the Planning Commission this week would bring a new, eleven-story hotel to the corner of Fourth and Clementina, across the street from the 'Zeum at Yerba Buena Gardens. In the base of the building is a proposed 4,265-square-foot restaurant space with an adjacent 32-seat patio. The property is currently occupied by a three-story office building owned by Olivet University, and the proposed hotel, from owner Jay Singh, would "a mid-range hotel ... [that] would be locally owned, but affiliated with an international hotel chain." Obviously, this project is quite a ways out, probably 2015 at the earliest. The news follows on the recent announcement of an upgrade happening a couple of blocks away at the renamed Hotel Zetta, on Fifth, which is soon to get a new restaurant called The Cavalier from the Marlowe/Park Tavern team, not to mention a makeover still in the works at the Renoir Hotel, at the hands of Brad Korzen of L.A.'s Viceroy Hotel Group. So yes, it's a good time for the hotel market in S.F. right now. [Grub Street]

Mr. Bauer Admits Ramen Shop Is Really Great

Ramen Shop's 18-person counter.

Michael Bauer finally got in to Ramen Shop in Oakland for his customary three visits, despite the crowds and eager fans who already have their names on the chalkboard at 5:15. He seems to love everything he tasted, including an appetizer of house-smoked sardines and pickled vegetables; and a "thick, velvety" tantanmen ramen. He adds, "On each of my three visits, the quality of the ramen continued to improve." Unlike he did two weeks ago with that other no-reservations generation hotspot, Outerlands, he doesn't ding them for the wait, and says that, despite the crowds, "service is surprisingly cheerful and helpful." And the final verdict is a rave-worthy three stars. [Chron]

Betelnut Closing Next Week; Will Shed Its Nineties Skin and Reopen Quickly as Hutong

Betelnut will be no more.Photo: Brooke Gray Photography via Facebook

Following on news that the Real Restaurants group is overhauling Fog City Diner this spring, the Scoop breaks the news that eighteen-year-old Betelnut (2030 Union Street) is also going under the knife. Chef Alex Ong, who's been with the restaurant since 2001, will remain executive chef, but the place will be closing after service on March 3 and reopening a week later as Hutong. Partner Robert Wellbeloved says that the menu will focus on the back alleys and "hidden streets of Beijing, Vietnam, Malaysia and elsewhere in Asia" — the word hutong means "back alley." So, it will be similar in concept to Betelnut, but allow Ong to do some of the more unusual food that he's lately been featuring on the specials board, and get away from the dated aspects of Betelnut's core menu (chicken satay, fried calamari, etc.).

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Anthony Bourdain: Ask Him Anything

Author, cook, TV host, cartoon character, and gadfly Anthony Bourdain will grace the digital hallways of Reddit later on today, at 3 p.m. EST. Watch this space for the official AMA link, and in the meantime, prepare your most burning questions. [Helen Cho/Twitter, Reddit]

Scream Sorbet Likely to Close

Oakland's well loved Scream Sorbet, which began as a farmers' market stand and expanded to a storefront in Temescal in 2011, is danger of having to close. Reports of the closure popped up on a Chow board, and owner Nathan Kurz confirmed the news there, saying that the scoop shop will "be closing down in early March unless our situation rapidly changes for the better." They're seeking an outside investor to help fund some legally required improvements to their shop, and failure to make the improvements will mean a loss of their health permit. And despite their effort to launch a breakfast menu to help get them through the slow winter months, Kurz admits they're now $50K in the hole. Kurz has actually put out a plea for investors and/or anyone "with more business experience and connections than we possess." [Chow via EBX]

Brogurt, or Greek ‘Yogurt for Men,’ Is a Real Thing

Coming to a bench-press near you.

Face it, right up there with the arrival of asteroids from deep space, we've been seriously due for a smiting of Greek yogurt that will not only build muscle and burn fat, but also give those who ingest it the manly fortitude to walk away from General Zod after he's been imprisoned in an elliptical machine and gets a little pissy. Ooh-rah, people of the world who don't skip breakfast, here's Powerful, which you may have guessed by now is so much "more than a yogurt" that it's brogurt: "In a niche typically dominated by female consumers," its website tells us, "we decided to develop a new Greek yogurt specifically suited to address the unique health and nutrition needs of the most neglected consumers in the category: men." This high-protein, no-fat, all-beast snack — spotted this weekend at Fairway and Brooklyn Fare — is going to dominate your lunchbox, beef up your sperm count, and help you pinpoint your inner abs. Ladies, be careful out there! This yogurt isn't for you!

Nigella Lawson: ‘The Whole World Is Enslaved by Italian Food’

Nigella Lawson at Allium in The Four Seasons, Chicago.Photo: Sky Full of Bacon

It took a trip to Italy for the 19-year-old Nigella Lawson to discover who she really was: an Italian soul in an (imposingly tall and chic) English body. That, at least, is the premise behind her newest cookbook, Nigellissima (Clarkson Potter, $35), released two weeks ago in the U.S. The cookbook author, who also happens to be one of the judges on The Taste, came to Chicago last week for a quick book tour of the Midwest. And figuring that she'd probably had enough questions about Anthony Bourdain and TV in general, we stuck to talking about the universal love for Italian food, and how going to Italy at an impressionable age literally changed her life and made her the single-named star she is today. You can't hear the rounded, brandy-voiced tones and precise diction with which she answered our questions, but her warm affection for the subject of Italian food and culture comes through even in cold type.

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Tabasco Chairman and Chief Executive Paul McIlhenny Has Died

He made millions of meals better.Photo: Tabasco

The iconic 145-year-old hot-sauce company lost its chairman and CEO Paul McIlhenny on Saturday to an apparent heart attack, the New York Times reports. McIlhenny, who died in New Orleans, was a sixth-generation descendent of the company's founder, a Civil War-era food tinkerer. He had worked for the company for 45 years and served as its chief executive for the last 13.

Fermented peppers, vinegar, and salt. »

Watch Jennifer Lawrence Crave McDonald’s at the Oscars

The Academy Award winner told MTV that she was so stressed while getting ready for the show that she "forgot" to eat, so she asked one of her handlers to pick her up a Happy Meal from a nearby McDonald's. No word on if she got to eat in time to accept her award, but starvation could explain her big fall. Somewhere, a McDonald's exec is thinking there's actually a possibility she'd star in a commercial.

"You have to remind them about ketchup." »

More Bad News: Horsemeat Found in Ikea’s Swedish Meatballs and Birds Eye Products

Swedish Meatball-gate: The next big hurdle.

Quantities of unregulated horsemeat that infiltrated Europe's food supply and subsequently turned up in a staggering number of grocery-store and food-service products like Burger King's burgers, Findus's prepackaged frozen lasagna dinners, Tesco's hamburgers, have also now been discovered in IKEA's Swedish meatballs and in Bird Eye's chilli con carne and bolognese sauces. Birds Eye's parent company announced on Friday that samples of its chili con carne distributed throughout Europe tested positive for horse DNA, and authorities in Scotland recalled the entire frozen hamburger from primary schools countrywide, both signs that the issue of the tainted food may be far from resolved. Now it's come down to Ikea's beloved Swedish meatballs.

Trying to assauge "potential worries among our customers." »


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