Posts for February 27, 2013

What Won't People Do to Get In to Outerlands?; Previewing The Company Bar & Kitchen

Outer Sunset: Here's a funny chat with Laura Michetti, general manager at the uber popular Outerlands, discussing the lengths that people go to, and the fury, when it comes to trying to get a table at brunch, and asking for loaves of bread. [Eater]
Downtown/FiDi: There was just a media preview for The Company Bar & Kitchen, due this summer from the Mina Group in the former Shanghai 1930 space on Steuart. [SFoodie, Earlier]
Los Gatos: Marty Cattaneo has parted ways with Dio Deka restaurant and is working on his own thing in Los Gatos called The Alley. [Scoop]

Charles Phan’s Hard Water Opening on Pier 3 March 14 [Updated]

Phan

The team has been very mum on the details surrounding Hard Water (Pier 3), the latest bar project from the Charles Phan empire, but today we received word of an opening event coming up next week, meaning that the public opening should be happening on or around March 8 or 9. What we do know: It's not Asian but in fact is New Orleans-themed; it's kind of tiny (1,300 square feet); the design is by Olle Lundberg and has something to do with a canoe; and there will be a Big Easy-inspired cocktail menu from Slanted Door bar star Erik Adkins, from which the food will be inspired. We'll update you tomorrow with further details, as we gather them. [Earlier] Update: The official public opening is on March 14, though we're unclear if there could be soft-opening nights before that. See some photos and the menu here.

Scenes From an Underground Dinner With Mullen & Smith at Naked Kitchen

Last Saturday marked the second recent outing for chef duo Ian Mullen and Jason Smith, who have dubbed themselves Mullen & Smith and appear ready to embark on some ambitious work in the local food world in years to come. The pair met working on the line at Fifth Floor under Laurent Gras, and Mullen has also worked at Per Se in New York. Smith is currently a butcher for Golden Gate Meat Co. in Santa Rosa, and he's also worked as a private chef and at the Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead, Georgia. And for their most recent underground dinner at Naked Kitchen — an intimate, eight-person dinner around the counter in a private home kitchen in the Mission — the theme was Pork & Pinot, and it came just a month prior to the big Pigs & Pinot fest happening up north.

Read more »

Groupon Stock Continues to Drop After Sad Earnings Report

Insert joke about $10 for $20 in stock here.

Groupon, once upon a time a beacon of deal-site glory, continues to get battered as a public company: Yet another dismal earnings report got released today. The news of a fourth-quarter net loss of $81.1 million hit the airwaves after the markets closed, but it's already sent the company's stock price tumbling in after-hours trading — it's down at $4.46 as of this writing, a full 25 percent drop from its closing price of $5.98 just an hour ago. Things had been looking slightly up for the company since hitting an August low amid some media mumbling about the public having serious "deal fatigue." Maybe too many people are sick of the unused scuba lesson coupons staring them in the face every time they open their junk drawers. [Chicago Tribune, Reuters, Earlier]

Customers Weirdly Not Cool With Porn-Browsing Pizza Hut Worker

Several Pizza Hut customers in Richmond, Virginia, who encountered a worker spending his break looking at pictures of naked women on his laptop in the restaurant's dining room were nonplussed when management told them it wasn't their problem. "It was personal time," a shift manager tells the local NBC affiliate, explaining it's really Larry the mozzarella guy's right to spend his downtime any way he chooses. "He wasn't on the clock." The employee apparently spends many of his three-hour breaks out in the dining-room booth, which doesn't really seem to freak out Pizza Hut management, who say it doesn't affect his "job performance" and that they "had a talk" with the guy after the incident. Ten bucks says he was looking at pizza-delivery-guy porn.

Break time's over! Let's get back to work! »

Olema Inn Reopens as The Olema, With a Casual Menu

The OlemaPhoto: Helen S./Yelp

As promised around the new year, Manka's chef-owners Margaret Grade and Daniel DeLong have finished their remodel of the restaurant at West Marin's The Olema Inn and reopened it last week as The Olema, with a fresh and simple menu and informal setting. Urban Daddy grabbed a few photos, and Tablehopper adds a few menu details. Offerings focus on "things I'd like to eat," says Grade, and example menu items include fire-roasted crab, rotisserie chicken, and a vegetarian "bouillabaisse" made with garden vegetables. There are limited hours for now, just Thursday to Sunday, catering to those on the road returning from the beach. Later this year, they plan to reopen the nine rooms in the inn, as well. [Urban Daddy, Tablehopper, Earlier]

The Olema - 10000 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, Olema - 415-663-1034 - Open for dinner, Thursday to Sunday, at 5:30 p.m.

Willie Brown Says Healthy S.F. Violators Should Just Negotiate With Herrera

City insiders know by now that you should probably take Willie Brown's advice when it comes to dealing with City Hall, since the man's only had his hands in dozens of local pots for four decades or so. Today he chimes in about the Healthy S.F. debacle, saying that restaurateurs who are getting all panicky and lawyering up to face off with City Attorney Dennis Herrera should actually, probably, just go meet with him and be open about their books. He notes, for one, that Michael Mina has already done this. "My comments will obviously piss the restaurants’ lawyers off," he says, because it will lose them a lot of billable hours. Believe him, or don't, but he insists that "the restaurants of San Francisco can take care of their problems at no extra cost if they deal directly with the City Attorney's office." [Scoop, Earlier, Earlier still]

In Utah, Restaurants Still Can’t Pour Alcohol in Front of Customers

Home of the sober.

Close your eyes, kids! Don't look at the scary bottle of chardonnay! People in Utah apparently think it's harmful for children to see servers pour alcohol. In 2010, the state lifted a mandate that required bars to operate as members-only clubs, but there was a compromise: At restaurants that have been open for less than three years, servers can't pour alcohol in front of patrons. Now lawmakers are considering repealing the ridiculous "Zion curtains" rule, which requires bartenders to make drinks out of sight, like they're cocaine dealers. (One of the bill's notable opponents, Republican State Senator John Valentine, says, "Alcohol is a drug.") The law is crippling for new restaurants; not only do they have to waste money building special service bars, they also have to cut back on tables to make room for them. And pouring booze in the back causes customers to think a restaurant's being shady. "It lessens consumer confidence," says Melva Sine, president of the Utah Restaurant Association. "We have got to stop feeling like everyone who drinks alcohol is doing something wrong." Preach. [AP]

Roth Calls Roxy’s Café ‘Overreaching’

One of the last year's buzzier Mission chefs, Manny Torres Gimenez, recently jumped ship from the pop-up he launched at Mr. Pollo (due to a landlord dispute) and took up residence down the street at Roxy's Cafe (2847 Mission Street). Anna Roth is the first to file a formal review of the place, and she's only half impressed. She says the inexpensive ten-course prix fixe "reminded me of both the good and bad of the tasting menu form," and she surmises that Gimenez is "an ambitious young chef just warming up his instrument." She's especially impressed with his Latin-inflected, handmade pastas, like the light Andean gnocchi made with yucca "that dissolved in your mouth like cotton candy," and a Mexican twist on carbonara with chorizo and plantain noodles. But she's less impressed by several of the smaller first courses, and notes that at $75, which may be a steal for so many dishes, she still "want[s] to be impressed with every course." [SF Weekly]

Get Your Last Pastry Preview of 20th Century Café This Sunday

Polzine's potato knishes.Photo: Michelle Polzine

Former Range pastry chef Michelle Polzine is gearing up to open 20th Century Cafe (198 Gough Street) in April, and this Sunday, March 3, will be the last in a series of pop-up bake sales she's been doing at State Bird Provisions. We first reported on the project last June, and Polzine has been refining her slate of offerings, inspired by the baked goods of the Danube region — as in Vienna, Budapest, and Prague. Her knishes (pictured) were just featured on Bon Appétit's blog, and you can get an idea of the menu from this past Sunday's pop-up, which included things like a hot date turnover, a chocolate Buddha's hand cookie, and a savory sauerkraut-apple tart with duck prosciutto. Find her at State Bird for three hours only on Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and we'll let you know as soon as there's a firm opening date for the café.

People Seriously Love Ramen Around Here

When their first posted Ramen Movie Night, featuring steaming bowls of ramen and ramen-themed 1985 flick Tampopo, sold out in mere minutes, ForageSF decided this morning to post a second date, on March 2. It, too, sold out in less than five minutes. This is what used to happen when bands announced secret shows in your grandpa's day, kids. [Earlier]

They’re Doing Burgers at Biergarten Now

The burger, and a stein.

Assuming you're still working your way through our 50 best, here's another burger to add to your docket: On Wednesdays and Thursdays, until they sell out, there are now burgers at Biergarten (424 Octavia). As SFoodie alerts us, they're twelve bucks, and they feature a half-pound Prather Ranch patty, along with rotating gourmet toppings like caper aioli, bacon, and pickled shallots. And we'd argue beer goes equally well with a burger as it does with bratwurst. [SFoodie]
Correction: Actually, they're technically only offering burgers on Wednesday nights.

Nightmare Scenarios: Tainted Burrito Leads to Brain-Invading Tapeworm

Watch out!Photo: Corbis

It's like a scene from a particularly vile VH1 Behind the Music. Jay Whalley, the front man for Aussie punk group Frenzal Rhomb, suffered seizures, headaches, and feared he had a brain tumor. But his woes had nothing to do with sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Instead, it was because Whalley consumed a tainted burrito while on tour in Central America, and then pork tapeworm eggs jaunted from his intestines to nestle in his brain.

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Macy’s Gives Emeril Lagasse the Boot

At a trial for Macy's case against Martha Stewart and JCPenney, the department store revealed that it will no longer sell Lagasse's cookware line. Stewart’s company owns and designs Lagasse's products, which it purchased in 2008 for $50 million (along with his franchises). Macy's is suing Stewart for violating their exclusivity deal, but claims that dropping Lagasse's line from 800 stores has nothing at all to do with the lawsuit. The decision apparently stemmed from weak sales performances; customers have been panning his pans. [NYDN]

Juhu Beach Club Opens for Dinner Friday in Oakland

Mistry's pavs.Photo: Courtesy of Juhu Beach Club

As earlier reported, Juhu Beach Club is on deck to debut in Oakland's Temescal district, in the former SR24 space, on March 1. But contrary to that earlier report, chef Preeti Mistry has decided to launch dinner starting Friday, instead of softly opening for lunch only — lunch service will follow sometime later, as soon as Mistry hires and trains some more staff, she tells us. We showed you the menu, but you can now peruse it with prices and beverages, too. We're looking forward to some vada pavs and curryleaf coriander shrimp! [EBX, Earlier]

Juhu Beach Club - 5179 Telegraph Avenue near 51st - 510-652-7350 - Open Tuesday through Saturday, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., starting March 1.

The Yeastmaster: Flowers Foods Is Buying Wonder Bread

There was supposed to be an auction tomorrow for the portfolio of bread brands — including Home Pride, Merita, and Nature's Pride — that used to belong to the now-defunct Hostess, but since it appears that no other bidders are going to show up for this whole-wheat party, Bloomberg reports a crusted source tells them the Thomasville, Georgia-based Flowers Foods will snap the brand up for $360 million, which sure is a lot of bread. We're now, of course, just counting down the days till PBR buys Twinkies. [Bloomberg, Earlier, Related]

IACP Awards Food Writing Finalists Announced

The International Association of Culinary Professionals announced the finalists for its annual food writing awards this morning. Nominees include the heavy-hitting Bouchon Bakery cookbook, but also Nancy Singleton Hachisu's excellent Japanese Farm Food and Naomi Duguid's great Burma: Rivers of Flavor. Friend of Grub Street Ian Knauer got a nod for The Farm, and the always thoughtful Rebecca Flint Marx was recognized for her "Modern Love"-esque, Gilt Taste essay "From Sex Cake to Spurned Salad," which you should go read right now. [IACP, PDF]

Mother and Daughter Crack Coca-Cola’s Bottle Cap Contest

Scammed!

A family of computer criminals manipulated Coca-Cola's bottle cap contest and ended up costing the company over $200,000. After Carrie and Sarah Jones from Albany, Oregon, figured out the winning codes, which awarded prizes such as concert tickets and gift cards, they grouped their earnings and sold them on eBay. The women have to pay Coca-Cola back $50,000, but no one's quite sure how much they actually made off the prizes, as they claimed thousands (thousands!) of codes. Kind of genius, no? This is like a modern-day version of Heartbreakers. [HuffPo]

Are These the Six Best Ramen Shops in the Country?

Extruded!

Food writer Keizo Shimamoto is a ramen obsessive: Exhibit A is his blog Go Ramen! and the tangential claim that he's "probably slurped more bowls of ramen than any other American." The peripatetic noodle guy is now also the subject of Michael McAteer's short documentary Ramen Dreams, an odyssey of broth and chashu. Shimamoto has been hitting up East and West Coast shops in the last year, and in no particular order, he tells the Asia Society's Asia Blog that his current top five are Totto Ramen in Manhattan, Dassara Ramen in Brooklyn, Tsujita in L.A., Shoki Ramen House in Sacramento, and Foo-Foo Tei in Hacienda Heights. Though not a dedicated ramen shop, Grant Achatz's high-end Chicago bar Aviary ranks as a bonus pick, if only for its "molecular ramen." [Asia Blog]

Watch This Homemade Robot Go to Town on an Oreo Cookie

Portland-based artist, copywriter, and Rube Goldberg machine builder David Neevel lost out on some quality time with his dog, risked cold hands, and skipped some potentially good lunches all in service of building this robot that separates the cookie portion of Oreo cookies from the cream, which Neevel dislikes and dispatches with an automated hatchet. It's a Nabisco ad, of course, but a fun one. "I don't have a catchphrase for my machine," he says. "But I guess if it did have one, it could be something like 'let's get that cream out of there,' or like, 'this cream's no good let's get it off the cookies,' or something."

Let's see what this baby can do. »

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