Manos Nouveau, located for a short time in the Mission, has reopened in nouveau digs in the Castro. The dramatic Latin-French restaurant from Manuel Montalban features large picture windows and cushioned banquettes. Local artwork lines the walls, curated by partner, creative director and artist Caitlin James. The chef is Gualberto Nic Camara, who Montalban met when they were both at Fresca. Food mixes Latin and European influences, and wines are biodynamic or sustainably farmed from South America and the Iberian Peninsula. Dinner Tues.-Sun. Manos Nouveau, 3970 17th St., San Francisco, CA 94114, 415-872-5507.
As of December 16, 2014, The Progress is open for dinner nightly. It's a project from the busy people at State Bird Provisions, located within the same building. Expect prix-fixe menus wherein chosen dishes are served to a whole table, family style. The Progress, 1525 Fillmore St., San Francisco, CA 94115, 415-673-1294.
Offal celebrant Chris Cosentino (Incanto), together with partner Oliver Wharton, have opened Cockscomb on Fourth Street in SoMa. The approachable, industrial 100-seat restaurant inside a former shoe factory (and formerly Zuppa) features two floors, art by Jeremy Fish and Sam Flores, and touches of Cosentino's signature dark wit (including a row of taxidermy roosters). Food is, as expected, a blend of whole butchery and fresh, local ingredients (beef heart tartare; duck fat cauliflower; Grandma Rosalie's tripe; wood-oven-roasted pig's head to share), and there’s an oyster bar, wood-fired-oven and plancha dishes. Two full bars feature wines, beers and Negroni on tap, as well as cocktails showcasing local gins. Dinner Mon.-Sat. Cockscomb, 564 Fourth St., San Francisco, CA 94107, 415-974-0700.
Manresa restaurant may be closed due to a fire, but executive chef/owner David Kinch and staff are not idle. Head baker Avery Ruzicka, Kinch and Andrew Burnham have partnered to open a brick-and-mortar shop ManresaBread, inspired by the local farmer's market and pop-up retail success of Ruzicka's small-batch breads and pastries. On offer: levain and other classic breads, sticky buns, monkey bread and innovative selections such as kuri squash streusel muffins and polenta sourdough made at a permanent bakery near the retail space. ManresaBread, 276 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos, CA 95030, no phone.
The Lower Haight neighborhood's new little bakery, Choux, from French owner Laura Athuil, specializes exclusively in French cream puffs. Pastry puffs are filled with chocolate, vanilla, hazelnut, coffee, salted caramel and a range of other custards. Catering is a specialty. Open Sun.-Thurs. Choux Bakery, 248 Fillmore St., San Francisco, CA 94117, 415-757-0722.
398 Restaurant & Bar touts "Euro-American" cuisine from executive chef Sam Fechheimer (Delano Hotel Miami Beach, Il Cane Rosso); Fechheimer also helms nearby Klyde Cafe & Wine Bar. Menu items lean rich but affordable, including grilled scallops in a mushroom-truffle cream sauce, Caesar salad topped with Maine lobster, and a signature millefeuille dessert. Cocktails are a focus, crafted by Brian Felley and Mo Hodges of former bar Big, supplemented by a short list of local and international wines. The dining room (previously Max's on the Square) can seat 124. Dinner nightly. 398 Restaurant & Bar, 398 Geary St., San Francisco, CA 94102, 415-654-5061.
Sachin Chopra, chef of Peninsula favorite All Spice, has brought his cuisine to San Francisco with Game in the former Masa's space inside the Executive Hotel Vintage Court. On board as executive chef is Zack Freitas, current chef de cuisine at All Spice, and Chopra's wife and business partner Shoshana Wolff is co-owner and wine curator. Chopra is known for his California-Indian cooking but this first San Francisco venture features food dubbed "new American exotic" --- namely game animals such as bison, Guinea hen, pheasant and venison alongside more conventional cuts of grass-fed beef and wild fish, blended with innovative ingredients and spices. Game, 650 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108, 415-874-9481.
Located in tony Hayes Valley, helmed by chef Corey Lee (Benu, The French Laundry) and focused on modern French bistro cuisine, Monsieur Benjamin is one of San Francisco's most noted new restaurants of the summer. Lee has created an appealing menu of bistro classics --- escargots, mussels, steak tartare appetizers, and mains such as blanquette de veau, steak frites, and grilled fish amandine --- plied with his famed technique. Environs are sleek, urbane, sexy and approachable, with glass-heavy décor offset by old-school French design touches, such as the heft of true bistro tableware. The restaurant is also making waves for being open until 1 a.m. nightly, a rarity in San Francisco. Look for lunch in the coming weeks. Dinner nightly. Monsieur Benjamin, 451 Gough St., San Francisco, CA 94102, 415-403-2233.
San Francisco's Beer Week Brings the Suds
Craft beer in all its forms will dominate during San Francisco's celebrated Beer Week, from February 6-15, 2015, beginning with an opening gala Friday, February 6, at Fort Mason Center's Herbst Pavillion. Look for more than 80 Northern California breweries and a host of local chefs cooking to complement the array of new, rare and classic brews on hand. For the ensuing nine days, local restaurants will play host to brewmasters and other brewery reps during special dinners, and festivals celebrating everything from double IPAs to cask ales will run at venues across the Bay Area. Check the event list at www.sfbeerweek.org.
White Tablecloths Return to Michael Mina
As a nod of respect to executive chef Ron Siegel's cuisine, Financial District restaurant Michael Mina has upped the quality of experience in the dining room. White tablecloths have returned, and the room features fewer tables to decrease noise and increase intimacy. In addition, the restaurant has moved to a mainly prix-fixe menu format: four courses (with amuses and other additions) for $95 per person, with vegetarian options available; Siegel's nine-course "Ketto" tasting menu is $165 and requires whole table participation. A short à la carte menu is available at the bar for dinner and during lunch. Michael Mina, 252 California St., San Francisco, CA 94111, 415-397-9222.
Manresa Back In Business
After five months of reconstruction due to a fire in July, David Kinch and the team at Manresa have re-opened for regular dinner service as of January 2, 2015. Reservations can be made online at manresarestaurant.com, by calling the restaurant or via OpenTable. Manresa, 320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030, 408-354-4330.
The French Laundry Closed Temporarily for Renovations
The French Laundry closed temporarily for extensive renovations, including a new kitchen. (The dining room will remain unchanged.) Construction could take months, and the restaurant has confirmed closure at least through February. Stay tuned for alternative ways to experience The French Laundry in the interim. The French Laundry, 6640 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599, 707-944-2380.
Dine, Give Food at Off The Grid
Off The Grid food truck market gatherings will host local food bank representatives on select dates through December to accept donations of nonperishable goods. Check the market schedule at www.offthegridsf.com for when and where to take food items, or make a direct donation using Square for mobile payment.
Half Moon Bay Brewing Company's 15th Holiday Season Events and Specials
San Mateo County’s Half Moon Bay Brewing Company will commemorate its 15th holiday season with different events and specials. They will host a Funky Sweater & Sneaky Peat Winter Ale Release Party to introduce the new big, malty Sneaky Peat Ale. A “Funkiest Sweater” winner will be announced for a special prize, while everyone else in their funky sweater will also receive little gifts. The party will take place on Friday, December 5, from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. You can also kick off an early New Year with the brewing company, who will host a family-friendly “Early Bird New Year’s Eve” from 5 p.m.-9 p.m. on Tuesday, December 31. A menu and drink specials will be available. Lastly, Half Moon Bay Brewing Company will begin their “When it Rains, We Pour” specials from December 31, 2014, through March 31, 2015. If there is an 80% or more chance of rain in the Half Moon Bay area, drinks will be offered at happy hour pricing. Simply show them the forecast on your smartphone. Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, 390 Capistrano Rd., Princeton by the Sea, CA 94019, 650-728-2739.
Something in the Water? Monterey/Carmel Restaurant Shakeups
Lots of restaurant news out of the Monterey and Carmel areas: Restaurant 1833 has a new executive chef, Jason Franey, most recently chef of Seattle's Canlis restaurant. This is not Franey's first time in the Bay Area --- he was Daniel Humm's executive sous chef at Campton Place Restaurant in San Francisco before following Humm to New York City as executive sous chef of Eleven Madison Park. Franey plans to create a completely new menu at Restaurant 1833. Also in Monterey, on famed tourist passageway Cannery Row, 45-year-old steakhouse John Pisto's Whaling Station has lost its eponymous owner to retirement. Now known as Whaling Station Steakhouse, the restaurant aims for a more inclusive feel, with more budget-friendly options going forward. Also, as reported earlier, Pacific's Edge has a new chef in Chad Minton; fans of former Pacific's Edge chef Matt Bolton can now find his cuisine nearby at The C Restaurant + Bar at the Intercontinental, The Clement Monterey.
Check back soon for more news.
Another year, another round of restaurant closures. In San Francisco, five-story (and storied) Empress of China said good-bye on New Year's Eve after 48 years of white-tablecloth dining in Chinatown. Over on Union Street, relatively new French outpost Cafe Des Amis shuttered January 4, and down in the Mission District, five-year-old Nombe did not greet 2015, closing after service on December 31, though the sushi restaurant company will still provide catering, private events and sushi-making classes. Call 415-235-7745 for information or to book. In the Napa Valley, étoile at Domaine Chandon shuttered January 1, ending its fine dining run. Going forward, the space will be used for tastings and private events. Also in wine country, Healdsburg's 15-year Zin Restaurant & Wine Bar closed permanently after one last New Year's bash. Adieu to all!
As our reviewer said, it took some gumption to open Local's Corner, a sustainable seafood restaurant, in a corner of the Mission not known for its finer dining --- and sadly the experiment didn't work. It closed after dinner service on November 29, 2014. Local's Corner, 2500 Bryant St., San Francisco, CA 94110, no phone.
Chenery Park in San Francisco's Glen Park neighborhood has closed. The inviting, comfortable restaurant was a San Francisco family-friendly favorite for nearly 15 years and will be missed. Chenery Park, 683 Chenery St., San Francisco, CA 94131, no phone.
Pasion on Irving Street in the Sunset District has closed, and will reopen as the city's fourth location of Fresca, the popular Peruvian mini-chain from the same owners. Pasion's executive chef and owner, Jose Calvo-Perez, is the son of Fresca's founder Julio Calvo-Perez, and grew up in Fresca's kitchens. Pasion, 737 Irving St., San Francisco, CA 94122, no phone.
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