Pronounced "slahn-cha" and meaning "cheers!," Slainte is a new Irish pub debuting in Oakland's Jack London Square in early April 2017. The pub will feature traditional Irish cooking from County Donegal-born executive chef Jackie Gallanagh --- think fish and chips, shepherd's pie and soda bread plates with Irish cheeses and butter. Beers (including imported Irish) and drinks will be helmed by Jenny Schwarz, who also owns and oversees the beverage program at Hopscotch. The spacious pub interior is anchored by a cozy fireplace; musicians will be welcome to bring instruments for traditional sessions. Slainte, 131 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607, no phone.
Debuting at 644 Broadway in Chinatown is China Live, a 30,000-square-foot space from executive chef George Chen that is layered with drinking, dining and retail options --- with more to open in spring 2017. Now open, the Oolong Café is a 25-seat tea room with custom-designed teapots and glassware (coffee and Chinese café bites are available). Also open, Market Restaurant and Bar Central is a full-service Chinese restaurant with 120 seats and food prepared at various stations, each highlighting a different specialty: dumplings and dim sum; Chinese meats and barbecue; cold salads and starters; noodles and rice bowls; fresh seafood; soups; wok stir fry and desserts. Menus change daily, with some signature dishes on repeat such as Peking duck, pork dumplings and three-cup Taiwanese chicken. Duggan McDonnell is in charge of beverages, including cocktails, Malaysian-style cold brew coffee and custom kombucha. On the first floor as well is a retail market that features a large array of imported condiments, spices, teas, cookware and gifts. Soon-to-come second-floor offerings include the formal restaurant Eight Tables by George Chen, a romantic bar and a small private events space called Gold Mountain Lounge. The third floor will be reserved exclusively for private events for up to 200 guests. Cafe 7 a.m., Restaurant 11 a.m. daily. China Live, 644 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133, no phone.
The Riddler has been turning heads in Hayes Valley since its opening January 15, 2017, and for good reason. Led by well-known local PR maven Jen Pelka and an all-female team, The Riddler is a Champagne bar funded entirely by women, and has charms galore in its design and offerings. The Champagne list features more than 100 selections from grower-producers and traditional houses. Sparkling wines, some still wines and one beer --- Miller High Life --- are also available, as well as a menu of bar bites. The café and bar features a French-inspired, modern-vintage vibe in a color scheme of black, white and gold, with room for 40 indoors and out. The Riddler, 528 Laguna St., San Francisco, CA 94102, No phone.
International chain JINYA Ramen Bar has opened its first northern California outpost in San Jose's Westfield Oakridge shopping center. The modern ramen restaurant with Japanese-style counter seating is from Japanese restaurateur Tomonori Takahashi, who has founded seven restaurants in Tokyo and more than 20 JINYA locations in Canada and the United States, including Robata JINYA in Los Angeles. Look for signature ramen bowls, Japanese-inspired small plates and a children's menu, as well as two patios and an outdoor fireplace. Lunch & Dinner daily. JINYA Ramen Bar, Westfield Oakridge, 925 Blossom Hill Rd., Ste. 1637, San Jose, CA 95123, 408-281-9888.
San Francisco has seen a welcome influx of new Indian restaurants in the last few months, with more on their way. In the Mission, New York City expat Babu Ji has struck a trendy, flavorful note with diners. August 1 Five, in the Civic Center, offers modern, upscale Indian dining that draws from many influences, including street and home cooking from northern and central India. And coming to a new South of Market complex at 333 Brannan is Rooh, a modern lounge and kitchen featuring "progressive Indian cuisine."
Fast-casual mini-chain Asian Box is about to open several more locations in northern California, beginning with Burlingame Avenue in Burlingame. The quick, fresh, street-food-inspired eatery will join outposts in San Francisco, Palo Alto and Mountain View, with a second San Francisco and new San Jose eateries also coming soon. The chain is located in Los Angeles and Irvine, too. Asian Box, 1401 Burlingame Ave., Burlingame, CA 94010, no phone.
A Bay Area Cinderella story, Curry Up Now started as a food truck in 2009, and in 2017, husband-and-wife owners Akash and Rana Kapoor are about to open their fifth brick and mortar location. The new 1,800-square-foot venue in Oakland's Uptown will join sister restaurants in San Francisco, San Jose, San Mateo and Palo Alto. Curry Up Now serves Indian street food with a mix of international and Bay Area twists: tikka masala burritos, deconstructed samosas and hip, tasty, spicy items such as "naughty naan" and "sexy fries." Self-serve drinks include rose mango lassis and ginger mint lemonade, and there will be a sangría bar as well as beer and wine offered. Weekend brunch will also be a feature of the Oakland outpost. Curry Up Now, 1745 San Pablo Ave., Oakland, CA 94612, no phone.
Adding to an already robust list of gourmet creameries in San Francisco, Portland-based Salt & Straw will open at Fillmore and Sacramento in early 2017, followed by a second location in Hayes Valley later in the year. The boutique ice cream outfit with rich, seasonal and sometimes eccentrically indulgent flavors (foie gras oatmeal raisin cream pie; Oregon black truffle) already boasts a successful lineup of shops in Portland and Los Angeles. Salt & Straw, 2201 Fillmore St., San Francisco, CA 94115, no phone.
SingleThread Farm - Restaurant - Inn in Healdsburg showcases the prodigious cooking and farming talents of Kyle and Katina Connaughton, respectively. SingleThread Farm - Restaurant - Inn, 131 North St., Healdsburg, CA 95448, no phone.
Covering two stories and 10,000 square feet in San Francisco's modern South of Market district, Coin-Op is a new "design-driven arcade bar" and restaurant from the Sporting Fraternity, Inc. hospitality group based in San Diego (The Lion's Share, Coin-Op San Diego and Sacramento). The nostalgic space was designed by local team sfHeimat, founded by Alicia Lichtenstein and Eva Bradley. Food from executive chef Mark Bolton includes comfort favorites such as burgers, wood-fired pizzas and chicken and waffles, as well as seasonal bar bites to share. The venue features several distinct bar areas, including a Tron-themed speakeasy, and a huge selection of vintage arcade games to go with its menu of craft cocktails and beers. Coin-Op, 508 4th St., San Francisco, CA 94107, no phone.
Chef Dominique Crenn is working on a new project in the Marina District: Bar Crenn. The adventurous chef made a name for herself in San Francisco with Atelier Crenn, one of GAYOT's 2016 Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S. She also owns Petit Crenn, a more casual restaurant featuring cuisine reminiscent of her native Brittany. Bar Crenn, 3131 Fillmore St., San Francisco, CA 94123, no phone.
Burma Superstar Launches Cookbook
The lines for Burma Superstar --- with locations in San Francisco, Oakland and Alameda --- never seem to shorten, and now fans can try the Burmese restaurant's famously flavorful recipes at home. Look for a March 2017 launch of "Burma Superstar: Addictive Recipes from the Crossroads of Southeast Asia," by restaurant owner Desmond Tan and food writer Kate Leahy (author of A16 Food + Wine). Burma Superstar, 309 Clement St., San Francisco, CA 94118, 415-387-2147.
"Meatball Mondays" at barbacco eno trattoria
Perbacco Ristorante + Bar's casual sister restaurant, barbacco eno trattoria, located right next door to the Financial District favorite, has launched "Meatball Mondays" featuring a diner's choice of three large polpette, or meatballs, to pair with a side of spaghetti marinara for $16. Meatballs include Sicilian-style pork with pine nuts, beef polpette Bolognese simmered with béchamel or chicken meatballs blended with ricotta and lemon. barbacco eno trattoria, 220 California St., San Francisco, CA 94111, 415-955-1919.
Master Sommelier Larry Stone Debuts Lingua Franca Wines
One of the country's greatest sommeliers, Larry Stone (Charlie Trotter's, Red Cabbage), whose Bay Area history includes 15 years at now-closed Rubicon, has announced the release of the first wines from his own vineyard, Lingua Franca. Stone purchased the Lingua Franca property, located in the Eola-Amity Hills of Oregon's Willamette Valley, when it was farmland. The wines coming on the market now are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir offerings from the property's inaugural 2015 vintage. Winemaker is Thomas Savre; Stone's daughter Sirita is also a member of the Lingua Franca team.
Speakeasy Brewing Ceases Operations
Local craft beermakers Speakeasy Ales & Lagers have ceased all operations for financial reasons. As of March 10, 2017, the popular brewery and San Francisco tap room are closed. Remaining inventory of bottled and canned favorites such as Big Daddy IPA, Prohibition Ale and beers from Speakeasy's Session series will remain in distribution until supplies run out. A San Francisco mainstay since 1997 (and destination tap room since 2011), the organization and its libations will be sorely missed. Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, 1195 Evans Ave., San Francisco, CA 94124, no phone.
Coi Features Seafood Menu, New Staff
Coi saw the departure of founding chef Daniel Patterson at the start of 2016, and over the past year it has experienced a reinvention under new chef Matthew Kirkley (L20). The restaurant now features a modern seafood tasting menu for $250 per person, wine pairings for an additional $180 or tea pairings for an additional $75. Joining the staff in 2017 are wine director Courtney Olson (Quince), general manager Dan Page (L20), chef de cuisine Justin Mauz (Joël Robuchon, Le Bec-Fin, L20) and pastry chef Riley Redfern (Jardinière, Quince). Coi, 373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133, 415-393-9000.
State Bird Celebrates Five Years
State Bird Provisions, with its dim-sum-style carts filled with New American bites from chefs Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski, won over San Francisco (and foodies everywhere) the minute it opened on New Year's Eve 2011. Five years later, the restaurant has an adjacent, family-style restaurant (The Progress), private events space called The Workshop and a cookbook on the way. State Bird Provisions, 1529 Fillmore St., San Francisco, CA 94115, 415-795-1272.
New Hours for Bar Agricole
Bar Agricole has made some significant changes to its hours. The open, modern space now serves brunch every Saturday and Sunday beginning at 10 a.m., and has also moved to a nightly dinner format (it was formerly closed Sundays). Dinner begins at 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and at 5:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Check the website for bar hours, which usually begin a little earlier than dinner service. Bar Agricole, 355 11th St., San Francisco, CA 94103, 415-355-9400.
Manresa Bread Now Available For Nationwide Delivery
Manresa Bread, the Los Gatos bakery conceived by Manresa baker Avery Ruzicka, has begun shipping artisan breads, granola, Verve coffee and other products nationwide. Two-day (or less) deliveries include four loaves chosen from a menu that includes the levain, pumpernickel buckwheat rye and pullman loaf, and instructions on storing and rewarming the bread. Visit here for pricing and to place an order. Manresa Bread, 276 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos, CA 95030, 408-402-5372.
Chef-owner Amy Murray has passed the reins of Berkeley's Venus restaurant to the owners of Tigerlily, also located on Shattuck Avenue. Murray opened Venus in 2000, and will now focus solely on her second Berkeley venture, Revival Bar + Kitchen, which she launched in 2010. Venus, 2327 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA 94704, 510-540-5950.
After nearly a year of what was a sweet experiment in combined venues, Ron Siegel has departed Rancho Nicasio in the tiny Marin County village of Nicasio. The chef left the bustle and commute of working in San Francisco to spend more time with his family, and took over a portion --- Western Room --- of the otherwise home-style Rancho Nicasio for his own high level of cuisine. The project gave the venue a split personality, with a shared kitchen and two separate staffs, and after a year of this "leap of faith" both Siegel and Rancho Nicasio owner Bob Brown have decided it's time to part amicably and for Siegel to find his own Marin County restaurant. Western Room, 1 Old Rancheria Rd., Nicasio, CA 94946, 415-662-2219.
Chef Jason Franey has moved on from Restaurant 1833 in Monterey to open a restaurant in the Bay Area. Stepping in is executive sous chef Mikey Adams. Restaurant 1833, 500 Hartnell St., Monterey, CA 93940, 831-643-1833.
Despite enduring popularity and steady clientele, Mamacita shuttered abruptly in March 2017. The Marina District Mexican restaurant had a vibe that was equal parts trendy and romantic, and was a sister restaurant to The Tipsy Pig, also in the Marina, and Padrecito in Cole Valley, both of which remain open. Mamacita, 2317 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123, no phone.
The Restaurant at Ventana in Big Sur is temporarily closed to the public. The Restaurant at Ventana, Ventana Big Sur, 48123 Hwy. 1, Big Sur, CA 93920, 831-667-2331.
Shorty Goldstein's in the Financial District closed March 9, 2017, after four years, taking with it some of the best (and only) Jewish deli cuisine in the city, including potato knishes and good pastrami on rye. Mourners can look to Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen or Saul's Restaurant & Delicatessen for consolation. Shorty Goldstein's, 126 Sutter St., San Francisco, CA 94104, no phone.
Range in the Mission District closed after dinner service (and a farewell party) December 31, 2016. The Valencia Street restaurant opened in 2005 and immediately gained a chic following for its upscale-yet-inviting interior, flavorful cocktails and seasonal American cuisine. Range, 842 Valencia St., San Francisco, CA 94110, no phone.
Berkeley's Cafe Rouge closed on December 30, 2016. The Fourth Street restaurant and butcher shop's in-house meat program set the standard when it opened 20 years ago for whole butchery, charcuterie and local, heritage meats. Locals will also miss its fine raw bar. Cafe Rouge, 1782 Fourth St., Berkeley, CA 94710, no phone.
Open near the Embarcadero since 1978, and known as much for its white-tablecloth corporate lunches as its romantic dinners, French restaurant L'Olivier is going out of business. Per the restaurant's website, a special discount of 10 percent off lunch and 15 percent off dinner (with a complimentary glass of wine) is on offer to all guests between now and the not-yet-announced spring closing date. Au revoir, L'Olivier. Visit the restaurant’s website for details. L'Olivier, 465 Davis Ct., San Francisco, CA 94111, 415-981-7824.
Another Bay Area old-timer has shuttered. Rose Pistola closed one month shy of its 21st year as a North Beach gathering spot for locals and tourists. Rose Pistola, 532 Columbus Ave., San Francisco, CA 94133, no phone.
A rash of restaurant closures hit the Bay Area as 2017 arrived, with surprises among both the old and new guard. In the Mission, standouts Range and Bar Tartine have both shuttered, to the distress of longtime fans. Kuleto's in Union Square closed its doors after 30 years on January 2, and SoMa's Restaurant LuLu shuttered abruptly in the new year after roughly 24 years. Relative newcomer, five-year-old AQ Restaurant & Bar, known for its changing seasonal décor and notable modern American cuisine, closed after dinner service on January 14, joining already-closed neighbor Show Dogs. And on the Embarcadero, Butterfly's chef-owner Rob Lam announced the restaurant's impending closure after service on January 7, saying goodbye to 15 years of Asian fusion in the event-friendly bayfront space.
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Find out which restaurants and chefs top the list of GAYOT's 2016 Annual Restaurant Awards.