Posts for February 26, 2013

Maestro Closed After Nine Months [Updated]

That was quick.

Maestro, the restaurant and bakery/cafe from the people behind Burlingame's La Bohème (they actually closed that business to open this one), has shuttered after a brief nine months at Civic Center. It occupied the storied space at 555 Golden Gate Avenue that was once the second home of Stars, and later became Trader Vic's, and the closure seems to have come without much warning — the Facebook account is still active, as is their OpenTable. However, a reader tipped off Tablehopper, and Grub Street has subsequently confirmed on the ground that the place is very dark today when it ought to be open, and no one is answering the phone. Update: Things were seriously messy in the space as of Tuesday, and we have a shot of the note posted outside the restaurant to patrons, suggesting that the restaurant might relocate.

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Lilah Belle’s Relocates, Will Reopen March 11 on Divisadero

Remember Lilah Belle's, the healthy prepared-foods spot that closed at the corner of 18th and Church to make way for Cerveceria MateVeza? Well, owner Traci Higgins is popping back up again and reopening the business at 1207 Divisadero (at Eddy), as Eater reports. The plan is to keep somewhat limited hours (weekdays only), and to open by March 11. [Eater]

Lilah Belle's - 1207 Divisadero at Eddy - Open Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on weekends.

20 Spot Almost Ready to Open in the Mission

20 SpotPhoto: Facebook

We broke the original news about 20 Spot (3565 20th Street) a little over a year ago, and now the new neighborhood restaurant in the former Force of Habit record shop space is just weeks away from its debut. Tablehopper snapped some photos of the place, which was designed by the same architect who worked on Trick Dog and Presidio Social Club, Wylie Price. It has the feel of a modern living room with vintage furnishings, and there's a six-seat bar made of Marin eucalyptus. The straightforward café menu comes from chef Anthony Paone, formerly of Sea Salt in Berkeley. It features wine-friendly fare like rabbit paté and cheeses, and the dishes range in price from $5 to $18. (One of the owners, Bodhi Freedom, also owns Bacchus Wine Bar in Russian Hill.) No opening date is set and inspections are still pending, but look for them to open in March, within a couple of weeks. [Tablehopper, Earlier]

Eat Some Rothko Toast at SFMOMA

Painting, meet toast.Photo: Courtesy of SFMOMA

Following such past inventions as this Buckminster Fuller-inspired hot chocolate and the famed Mondrian cake, the café at SFMOMA is now serving this lovely slice of toast inspired by Mark Rothko's "No. 14, 1960." The bread is from Acme, and it's topped with apricot butter and wild blueberry jam, and it's all in tribute to the painting which is on view as part of the current exhibit Selected Histories: 20th Century Art from the SFMOMA Collection. Sidenote: It's actually the last onsite exhibit from the museum's collection that you'll get to see for three years, because the museum is closing for a massive renovation in June.

Tyler Florence Knows Not All Food Network Chefs Are Created Equal

We're coming up on three years into Tyler Florence's Bay Area adventure. The celebrity chef has opened three restaurants, closed one, opened an outpost at SFO, launched a successful wine label, penned a couple of books, and remains one of the most recognizable faces in the American food world. He just sat down for an interview with NBC's Raj Mathai in which he says that he's still a chef at heart, and the whole celebrity thing was never part of his ambitions. "Being on television wasn't what my path was," Florence says. "It just happened to fall in my lap and I embraced it because I figured if I didn't I wouldn't know what it was like."

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Shocker: Lawsuit Accuses Budweiser of Watering Down Its Beer

We still love you, blue beer.

Listless teenage boys and Jennifer Lawrence alike will be dismayed to learn that lawsuits have been filed by plaintiffs in three states accusing beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev of watering its brews down before passing them on to an unwitting drinking public. “AB’s customers are overcharged for watered-down beer and AB is unjustly enriched by the additional volume it can sell,” reads part of one complaint filed by Thomas and Gerald Greenberg in federal court in Philadelphia. While it's currently unclear just how multiple plaintiffs came to the conclusion that Budweiser is mislabeling its beer, Bloomberg reports two more lawsuits are imminent, in Colorado and Ohio; meanwhile, the beer company, which currently controls 39 percent of the beer market in the United States, steadfastly denies such preposterous claims, adding that it routinely deploys technology that measures "alcohol content in malt beverages to within hundredths of one percent." The plaintiffs are seeking an amount in excess of $5 million in compensation and damages, apparently, because weaker beer ruined their lives. Or something. First it was America's bourbon watering it down, now it's the King of Beers? Does this mean we can expect some horrible news from Bartles & Jaymes about their wine coolers tomorrow? [Bloomberg, Earlier, Related]

Imagining Nopa’s Cauliflower ... as an Outfit

Huh. Racked (the shopping blog from the Eater/Curbed folks) launched recently in San Francisco, and today they're bringing us a new potential feature: Food as Outfit. The subject dish is Nopa's roasted and spiced cauliflower with raisins and parsley, and they're giving us an outfit inspired by the colors of that dish. Huh. [Racked SF]

Chef Roulette: Adam Sobel In, Jason Berthold Out at RN74

Bauer respected Berthold's food, but said it "didn't feel quite right in the space."

The Mina Group just announced the departure of executive chef Jason Berthold, who's been on board at RN74 since it opened in April 2009. Berthold, apparently, has signed on to a new, unnamed restaurant in the Bay Area set to open in the fall. Replacing him is Adam Sobel, who's both executive chef and partner. Sobel most recently was executive chef at another Mina property, Bourbon Steak in Washington, D.C., and prior to that he was a Vegas chef working at Restaurant Guy Savoy, and at Bradley Ogden's eponymous, Beard Award-winning restaurant at Caesar’s Palace. In today's release Michael Mina says, "We could not be happier about bringing [Sobel] to San Francisco where I have no doubt he’ll make an impressive mark on the culinary landscape." The change-up comes just shy of a year after Michael Bauer dropped RN74 off of his Top 100.

New Study: Democrats Love Bagels, GOP Loves Olive Garden’s ‘Ethnic Food’

A sad new Public Policy Polling survey of registered voters reveals that a vast swath of the country is very sheltered when it comes to authentic spaghetti. It seems that 43 percent of Republicans agree with the following statement: "Olive Garden is a quality source of authentic ethnic food." Democrats don't know good pasta, either; 41 percent of them think the exact same thing.

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Drakes Bay Oyster Co. Gets Yet Another Reprieve From the 9th Circuit

Drakes Bay Oyster Co., which has been facing an imminent eviction by the federal government from the protected waters at Drakes Estero (near Point Reyes), has just gotten yet another eleventh-hour reprieve via the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. As the KQED reports, the court granted the oyster farm another two-month stay because "there are serious legal questions and the balance of hardships tips sharply in appelants' favor." Therefore, they now have until mid-May, at least, to continue operations, and the court is scheduling a hearing on the matter the week of May 13. At issue is whether or not the Department of the Interior acted fairly in allowing the oyster farm's 40-year lease on the federal waters to expire in 2012, as the company knew it would, thereby returning Drakes Estero into California's first federally designated marine wilderness preserve. Earlier this month, a federal district judge ruled in favor of the government. [KQED, Earlier, Earlier still]

Abandon All Hope: In-N-Out Burger Has No Big Expansion Plans

Staying out of reach.

Hold on to your Shake Shacks and Five Guys, everybody, because In-N-Out is not coming your way anytime soon. In a rare interview with Orange County Register, secretive company scion Lynsi Torres makes it plainer than a Bible verse on a paper cup when she says, "We're definitely not franchising, and we're not going to sell." The 30-year-old heiress, who spends her free time and family fortune on a passion for drag-racing, explains that the company has purposefully plodded slow out of the gate to maintain their famously never frozen food, daily baked buns, and hand-sliced fries. To keep its focus on freshness, every new In-N-Out has to stay close to the company's distribution centers in Dallas and Baldwin Park, the main reason In-N-Out has only expanded to five states in 65 years.

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Coffee Bean Looking to Throw Down With Peet’s and Starbucks in the Castro

A rendering of the proposed expansion of the gym building, with rental units upstairs.

It's been over a year since we first reported that Starbucks is attempting to open their second location (third if you count the Safeway branch) in the Castro, on the triangular lot at Market and Sanchez currently occupied by The Industrialists. Now we learn that yet another coffee chain is looking to enter the fray just up the street: The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Castro Biscuit picks up the news that the Coffee Bean is looking to move in to the former vitamin store at the corner of Noe and Market beneath Fitness S.F. (formerly Gold's Gym). But this is all part of a much bigger development plan that includes the expansion of the gym and the construction of residential units on new floors above it, so this is likely to take a while. Meanwhile, a petition is circulating from local merchants to stop Starbucks from getting that new location, and that project has yet to hit the Planning Commission docket. [Castro Biscuit]

Gordon Ramsay Has Really, Truly Relinquished the Spotted Pig Trademark

Sending out good vibes all over.

The British chef angered many last November when it was learned he had moved to trademark the Spotted Pig name in the U.K., leading everyone and their mother to speculate that he was trying to prevent April Bloomfield, Ken Friedman, and one-time rivalMario Batali from opening a branch of their successful New York restaurant across the pond. Ramsay stood down, and while he's been saying for months he'd surrender the trademark, it looks like it's only now official, reports Eater. Unfortunately, there's news today of another pressing legal matter involving the chef: Ramsay, it turns out, also owns the trademark to the name "Brain Freeze," and may in fact be opening a restaurant under that name. "No freakin' way," said some 7-year-old kid in Dade County, responding to the news that papers had been filed last January. "I had that idea when I was 5." [Eater, Earlier, Earlier]

What to Eat at Loring Café, Now Open in Oakland

Loring CafePhoto: Joe Starkey/Thrillist

At least six or seven new things have debuted in Oakland since the new year, and we neglected to mention yet another, Loring Café, which officially opened two weeks ago at 37 Grand Avenue. As we learned last August, it's the project of Minnesota chef-restaurateur Jason McLean and his wife Abby McLean, and what they've done is essentially recreated the bohemian art and music café they first opened in 1986 on Loring Park in Minneapolis. They picked and moved their whole operation to Oakland, bringing with them some of the menu from their most recent incarnation, Loring Pasta Bar, and decorating the Uptown Oakland space in much the same style as their earlier restaurants — ecclectic furniture, Corinthian columns, wavy brick work, vintage lamps. Thrillist has some photos of the space, and we've got the menu for you below.

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Will the Sequester Really Halt Meat Production?

At least the cows would be happy.Photo: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

Bear with us while we talk food politics for a sec. Even if you aren't thinking much about the sequester — those looming government budget cuts that are set to happen Friday if Congress can't come to some sort of agreement — there is one bit of possible fallout that could affect the food world, big-time: The White House and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack have floated the scenario that cutting the USDA's budget (something that would happen as a result of the sequester) would leave the agency with "no choice" but to give food-safety inspectors unpaid leave, which would in turn halt meat inspections, which would in turn mean no fresh meat for anyone. Not good!

Stock up on broccoli. »

Get Ready for a Pollan Family Cookbook

Sage advice.

“Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food," Michael Pollan famously wrote, but what about more immediate family? We're going to find out, it seems, in the Pollan Family Table, which is being written by the food-policy advocate's mother and three sisters. According to Publishers Marketplace (subscription), the forthcoming cookbook will be chockablock with "Pollan family stories, recipes, cooking techniques, and pantry wisdom for healthy, harmonious meals for every family." While the sagacious, best-selling author — who once told Grub Street all about noshing at Barney Greengrass and ricotta on twelve-grain toast at his mother's apartment — won't be dispensing tips for using sage here himself, he is writing the foreword. Look for the Scribner book in the fall of 2014. [Publishers Marketplace, Earlier]

Nobu and Geoffrey Zakarian Are Cruising

Bingo, anyone?

Is partnering with a cruise line the next step to building a celebrity chef empire? Aboard the uppity Crystal Symphony in July, Nobu Matsuhisa will lead cooking demonstrations, host special Omakase dinners, and schmooze with passengers. A pretty sweet deal, considering he's sailing around Italy. Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian already had plans for a partnership with Norwegian Cruise Line, and now he's sweetening the deal by opening a second restaurant on a Miami-based Norwegian boat. Like Matsuhisa, he'll hop onboard to do cooking demonstrations and hold babies for photographs. Since these cruise lines are two of the most luxurious ones, hopefully these guys will avoid feces and four-hour waits for food. [USAT, Earlier, Miami Herald, Earlier]

20 Examples of Counterfeit Meats That Are Way Grosser Than Horse

One of these things is not like the other. Bring on the ammonium hydroxide!Photo: Corbis

For many, Mondays are meatless. Read on here, and you'll probably end up adding Tuesdays through Sundays. While the horse meat scandal continues to expand in Europe and more and more schools and retailers and restaurants who could have sworn they were serving beef find out that they weren't, it's become clear that once added to a food system, counterfeit meat can really have legs, in addition to what are purportedly shanks and trotters. So keep a close eye on your rump roast: Here are some of the worse mystery-meat substitutions from the last few years.

Unfortunate cats, hamburger helpers, and other sad steaks. »


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