San Francisco: Restaurant Openings
Oakland favorite CommonWealth Cafe & Public House has a new Emeryville baby sister, the CommonWealth Micropub, located on Adeline Street in what's known to locals as the Triangle District. The wee spot may be short on space --- tight tables in the nicely appointed interior accommodate about 15, while outdoor tables offer a bit of stretching room for 20 or so more --- but it's big on charm and intent thanks to the owners, husband-and-wife team Ross (a Scottish native) and Ahna Adair. There is no bar, only table service, with a daily changing selection of about eight to ten draught ales, lagers and ciders. However, the U.K.-inspired menu boasts nourishing flavors: Scotch broth, robust samosas, Yorkshire pudding and shepherd’s pie. Note: All service charges are included in the bill, no tips required. Lunch Sun., Dinner Tues.-Sun. CommonWealth Micropub, 3986 Adeline St., Emeryville, CA 94608, 510-858-5122.
Oakland's Uptown district has a new mixed-use space called The Hive that is about to get a new restaurant. Chris Pastena (Lungomare, Chop Bar) will open Mexican destination Calavera in what looks like May if all goes according to plan. The 4,000-square-foot restaurant with 18-foot ceilings is designed by Arcsine, and features an abundance of wood, subtle color and interesting geometry in the décor. The restaurant promises an impressive tequila and mezcal selection, along with "reimagined" regional Mexican cuisine. Calavera, The Hive, 2337 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612, No phone.
Manresa executive chef/owner David Kinch, head baker Avery Ruzicka and Andrew Burnham 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, 408-402-5372.
James Syhabout is expanding his mini-empire into San Francisco with a second location of his popular Oakland eatery Hawker Fare on Valencia Street in the Mission. Similar to the Oakland venue, San Francisco's Hawker Fare features "funky, spicy delicacies" with mainly Thai and Laotian flavors, in a menu spanning snacks, salads, one-pot and specialty selections, grilled food and rice and wok-tossed dishes. Group dining is encouraged as dishes are meant for sharing. Upstairs, a bar called Holy Mountain features cocktails referencing New Orleans, Haiti, Trinidad and Brazil, regions that celebrate Carnivale and Mardi Gras. The bar and lounge, dubbed an Everyman's watering hole, promises to be pretense-free and always evolving, with bar bites that may include dried squid jerky, pork rinds and roasted peanuts. Both Holy Mountain and the drink menu at Hawker Fare's bar are designed by Christ Aivaliotis and Troy Bayless, the bar duo behind all the beverage programs at Syhabout's properties. Hawker Fare, 680 Valencia St., San Francisco, CA 94110, 415-800-9000.
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.
Aatxe (pronounced aah-CHAY) is a forthcoming Basque restaurant on the street level of Upper Market's 100-year-old Swedish American Hall, home of musical venue Cafe Du Nord. The venture comes from a partnership between cocktail team The Bon Vivants (Trick Dog) and Ne Timeas Restaurant Group (Flour + Water, Central Kitchen, Salumeria); the duo will also combine forces to reopen the downstairs Cafe Du Nord after a remodel. Aatxe's chef Ryan Pollnow, former chef de cuisine at both Flour + Water and Central Kitchen, staged at Mugaritz early in his career. The restaurant will feature 50 seats, a full bar with a focus on Spanish-inspired drinks and exclusively Spanish wines, an open kitchen with counter seats, and a menu of Basque-style plates, from pintxos to large entrées, served late every night. Aatxe, Swedish American Hall, 2170 Market St., San Francisco, CA 94114, no phone.
Drought Dining --- Early Summer Weather Means Eating Al Fresco
All sun and no rain has led diners to enjoy some early summer-style dining options around the bay. In Oakland, the Dock at the Lake Chalet has opened for business, featuring al fresco dining and a lively bar on Lake Merritt with gondolas parked tableside. In San Francisco near AT&T Park, The Yard at Mission Rock is a new shipping-container pop-up village at the corner of Third Street and Terry Francois Boulevard, featuring street food from Off The Grid, an Anchor Brewing beer garden and an al fresco wine bar among many offerings. Remember --- all this pretty weather comes at a cost. Starting April 15, California diners can receive water at their tables by request only.
With Spring Comes Picnics at the Presidio & Fort Mason
Off The Grid's food truck gatherings become two richer each spring with the return of Picnic at the Presidio and Off the Grid: Fort Mason. Sundays from March 1-November 1, Picnic at the Presidio offers street cuisine enthusiasts the chance to picnic in style among the Presidio's greenery on the Main Post lawn in a leisurely environment that includes more than 30 food trucks and specialty purveyors, bocce ball, yoga classes, live entertainment, good views and plenty of Bloody Mary drink kits. Blankets and Adirondack chairs are available for rent. Friday evenings from March 6-October 30, 30-plus food trucks congregate at Fort Mason Center for a lively combination of outdoor food and entertainment, with Magnolia brews, cocktails and wines adding to the Friday-night feel and appeal. For a list of participating food trucks, visit offthegridsf.com.
Changes in Potrero
For years, Jocelyn Bulow seemingly had a monopoly on casual French elegance on Potrero Hill with his beloved Chez Papa and Chez Maman bistros. With the end of 2014, Chez Papa closed, and now there will be changes to Chez Maman as well. The old location of Chez Papa, still under Bulow ownership, will transform mid-March into a new Chez Maman. The old Chez Maman will then become casual offshoot Chez Maman Rotisserie. Bulow also has a stake in Mexican cuisine, and his Papito Potrero has a new chef in Efren Villalobos (Mamacitas, Mexico DF, Marino, Papito West). (On a side note, Bulow has sold his property Papito West at 425 A Hayes St. in Hayes Valley to general manager David Alexander.)
Hottest Ticket in Town
Mission District restaurant Lazy Bear (an anagram of chef David Barzelay's last name) has given State Bird Provisions and other notoriously difficult-to-get-into San Francisco restaurants serious competition since its brick-and-mortar opening in July, 2014. Barzelay was a former lawyer with only brief staging experience when he began his underground dinner parties in 2009. Now, diners purchase nonrefundable tickets for one of two dinner seatings Tues.-Sat., each comprised of 40 guests and each treated as a dinner party --- cocktails are passed before guests are directed to their pre-assigned seats at two 22-foot communal tables. The kitchen is completely open to guests and Barzelay and staff actively interact with diners throughout the experience. Cuisine is modern American and ranges from 12-18 courses. Cost is $110-$150 per person, with optional beverage pairings for an additional $75. Service fee and tax are not included. Tickets are released in advance on a monthly basis; join the restaurant's mailing list for alerts. Dinner Tues.-Sat. Lazy Bear, 3416 19th St., San Francisco, CA 94110, 415-874-9921.
New Full Bar at Boxing Room
Mardi Gras season got a little more festive this year at Boxing Room, the New Orleans-inspired restaurant from the Absinthe Group located in Hayes Valley. The restaurant boasts a new full bar --- outfitted in vintage New Orleans details such as brass instruments and an old Saints helmet --- and cocktail menu from Absinthe Group's bar operations director Jonny Raglin, and opening bartender Bobby Baker returned after a stint managing six popular local watering holes under Future Bars. Executive chef Justin Simoneaux has expanded the seafood bar (marinated mussels, Louisiana-style barbecued shrimp) and added a sampler called "Taste of the Swamp": turtle soup, fried frogs’ legs and alligator sauce piquant. Boxing Room, 399 Grove St., San Francisco, CA 94102, 415-430-6590.
Nine Years for Amelie Le Bar à Vin
Germain Michel and Samie Didda are celebrating nine years for their flagship wine bar Amelie Le Bar à Vin, a hip, romantic Polk Street enclave (there is a sister wine bar of the same name in Manhattan, and the duo also own Michel Bistro in Oakland, Calif., with Jean-Michel Fabregon). To celebrate, Amelie in San Francisco will now open and begin its two-hour happy hour daily at 5 p.m. instead of 5:30 p.m., and the bar and lounge has launched a new menu of French and Spanish nibbles, as well as pizza from Pizza Agricola. Look for live music and DJ events Wednesdays from 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Saturday from 6 p.m.-11 p.m., and Sunday 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Amelie Le Bar à Vin, 1754 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109, 415-292-6916.
Forthcoming Book from Atelier Crenn
Atelier Crenn chef-owner Dominique Crenn will release a book in November 2015 called Atelier Crenn: Metamorphosis of Taste. Her restaurant was named one of GAYOT's 2012 Top 10 New Restaurants in the U.S. Atelier Crenn, 3127 Fillmore St., San Francisco, CA 94123, 415-440-0460.
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.) 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.
Rose Pistola has a new executive chef in Steve Walker, who joins the North Beach restaurant from Corso in Berkeley, where he was chef de cuisine. Walker will focus on updating the Italian menu with new programs such as whole animal butchery, salumi made in-house, house-made pastas and daily changing seasonal menus. Rose Pistola, 532 Columbus Ave., San Francisco, CA 94133, 415-399-0499.
Verbena has undergone a chef shuffle. Sean Baker is no longer with the project, and Ryan Shelton is now executive chef. Shelton's path through Bay Area kitchens includes stints as chef de cuisine at Baume, pastry chef at Chez TJ and executive chef at Le Cigare Volant and Palo Alto Grill. Eric Fenster and Ari Derfel remain co-owners of both Berkeley's Gather, where Charis Wahl is executive chef, and Verbena, keeping the sister relationship between the two restaurants. (Notably, Baker and Gather have also parted ways.) Verbena, 2323 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109, 415-441-2323.
Florio on Fillmore Street has a new executive chef in Colin Dewey, most recently executive chef of Zero Zero. Dewey has plenty of French and Italian cooking in his background, having worked at San Francisco's Bix, New York's Del Posto and as Lidia Bastianich's sous chef at Felidia. He spent this winter on a cooking sabbatical, staging in Piemonte, Fruili, Umbria and on the Amalfi Coast. His menu at Florio will focus on the Mediterranean stretch "from Provence to Naples." Florio, 1915 Fillmore St., San Francisco, CA 94115, 415-775-4300.
While The French Laundry is closed for renovations, Thomas Keller is presenting Ad Lib at The Royal Oak at Silverado Resort & Spa. This temporary restaurant concept serves a "classic American menu of traditional recipes." Ad Lib, Silverado Resort & Spa, Silverado Country Club, 1600 Atlas Peak Rd., Napa, CA 94558, 707-257-0200.
After a promising first year, Verbena --- sister restaurant to Gather in Berkeley --- closed abruptly on March 23. It reopened March 26, under the same ownership, as Reverb Kitchen & Bar, with chef Ryan Shelton in charge of the kitchen. Cuisine is comfort food made from local, seasonal ingredients, and a focus on craft cocktails, with dinner nightly and brunch on weekends. Verbena, 2323 Polk St., San Francisco, CA 94109, no phone.
Ala Romana has closed unexpectedly. The restaurant from Allegro Romano owner Lorenzo Logoreci opened in late 2013. The property is for rent. Ala Romana, 1098 Jackson St., San Francisco, CA 94133, no phone.
After only several months, Game --- the "new American exotic" restaurant from Sachin Chopra, located inside the former Masa's space --- has already closed. Chopra shut the restaurant after service March 7, but will transition it into a second All Spice, Chopra's Indian standout on the Peninsula, within the week. According to the website, the new All Spice opens Friday, March 13. Game, Executive Hotel Vintage Court, 648 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108, no phone.
Radius on Folsom Street has closed. The restaurant caused a splash when it opened in 2010, for its notable focus on using ingredients found within a 100-mile radius. A portion of the space, still owned by Radius owner Jon Whitehead, has already morphed into a casual café and wine bar called Carafe; Whitehead will transform the rest of the property into a second restaurant in the months to come. Radius, 1123 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94103, no phone.
Vegans and vegetarians are not the only ones upset by the news that famous vegan destination Millennium Restaurant will close at the end of April 2015. The restaurant has set the gold standard for organic, plant-based fine dining. According to a letter posted on Facebook, Millennium's lease is up and two of its owners are retiring. However, executive chef and co-owner Eric Tucker --- who has been with the restaurant since its 1994 inception --- hopes to open his own future venue in either the East Bay or San Francisco to perpetuate the cuisine and philosophy that made Millennium so special. Millennium Restaurant, The Hotel California, 580 Geary St., San Francisco, CA 94102, 415-345-3900.
The outlandish restaurant-performance experience supperclub has shut down after a decade in operation. supperclub, 657 Harrison St., San Francisco, CA 94107, no phone.
After two and a half years, The Abbot's Cellar closed at the end of January. According to the restaurant's announcement on Facebook, "it is becoming more and more difficult to be profitable in this industry in San Francisco, especially for a labor-intensive, fine dining restaurant." However, the group's second venue, The Monk's Kettle, "...is going nowhere" in the best sense: not only is the casual, craft-beer-centric gastropub thriving, but it now has a lively outdoor patio to mitigate crowds. The Abbot’s Cellar, 742 Valencia St., San Francisco, CA 94110, no phone.
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!
View archived news: February 2015 | January 2015 | December 2014 | November 2014 | October 2014 | September 2014 | August 2014 | July 2014 | June 2014 | May 2014 | April 2014 | March 2014 | February 2014 | January 2014 | December 2013 | November 2013 | October 2013 | September 2013 | August 2013 | July 2013 | June 2013 | May 2013 | April 2013 | March 2013 | February 2013 | January 2013 | December 2012 | November 2012 | October 2012 | September 2012 | August 2012 | July 2012 | June 2012 | May 2012 | April 2012 | March 2012 | February 2012 | January 2012 | December 2011 | November 2011 | October 2011 | September 2011 | August 2011 | July 2011 | June 2011 | May 2011 | April 2011 | March 2011 | February 2011 | January 2011 | December 2010 | November 2010 | October 2010 | September 2010 | August 2010 | July 2010 | June 2010 | May 2010 | April 2010 | March 2010 | February 2010 | January 2010 | December 2009 | November 2009 | October 2009 | September 2009 | August 2009 | July 2009 | June 2009 | May 2009 | April 2009 | March 2009 | February 2009 | January 2009 | December 2008 | November 2008 | October 2008 | September 2008 | August 2008 | July 2008 | June 2008 | May 2008 | April 2008 | March 2008