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.
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, set to open in winter 2014, 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.
San Francisco's breath remains bated for The Progress, a future project from the busy people at State Bird Provisions, located within the same building. The larger space (formerly The Progress Theatre) will afford more seating than at State Bird Provisions, and cocktails will purportedly be a focus. Given the nightly onslaught at State Bird, it's no surprise The Progress has progressed past previous opening date hopes --- it has been on coming attractions lists for a while now --- but rumor has it Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski hope to open before 2015. The Progress, 1525 Fillmore St., San Francisco, CA 94115, no phone.
Joshua Skenes (Saison) and Los Angeles-based restaurant owner Adam Fleischman (Umami Burger) will open a fast, casual Chinese restaurant in downtown San Francisco called Fat Noodle in 2015. Hand-pulled noodle dishes (along with rice and egg noodle base options) will be served in a production-line fashion as guests choose various broth, meat, vegetable and sauce toppings. Skenes is aiming for a focus on Sichuan and Shaanxi ingredients and flavors, all crafted in-house, and hopes to provide lunch and dinner service daily through 2 a.m. Fat Noodle, 92 Second St., San Francisco, CA 94105, no phone.
Les Clos brings new wine bar-café blood to San Francisco's SOMA district. The all-day enclave for food, wine and gourmet retail is the latest venture from Mark Bright, Saison's owner-sommelier who also owns Local Kitchen and Wine Merchant and Vinyl Wine Bar, both in San Francisco. With Les Clos, Bright hopes to bring a French wine cave feel to the experience --- the grey walls are decorated with original fifteenth-century maps of Burgundy, and chocolate leather couches, a dramatic natural wood bar and communal area, as well as 10 tables for dining, lend rustic intimacy to the 1,200-foot space. Chef is Shawn Gawle, former pastry chef of Saison, also trained in savory French technique, who planned a rich, French-style menu for Les Clos' café: escargots, cheeses, caviar service, moules Provencale, croques monsieur and broiled oysters. The 5,000-bottle wine list, including 40 by the glass, is exclusively French with a focus on Burgundy, Bright's preferred region. Partner Cara Patricia Higgins, also a Saison veteran, oversees the wine and drink program as well as operations. Les Clos, 234 Townsend St., San Francisco, CA 94107, 415-795-1422.
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.
Townie restaurant and bar has opened on University Avenue in downtown Berkeley, offering dinner until midnight six nights a week. Executive chef is 27-year-old Dana Ryan, a native Bostonian, who has worked at State Bird Provisions, Gather and RN74. Owner and manager is Nima Shokat of popular Berkeley local hangout Missouri Lounge. The restaurant features seasonal small plates and a strong cocktail focus, as well as 16 draft beers and an international wine list. The dining room seats 75, with several communal tables. Free parking is available in the rear of the building. Dinner Tues.-Sun. Townie, 1799 University Ave., Berkeley, CA 94703, 510-356-4903.
Michel Bistro is a new Provencal-style brasserie/gastropub in Oakland's Grand Lake district from the team behind Amelie wine bars in San Francisco and New York City, Germain Michel and Samie Didda, together with Jean-Michel Fabregon. Executive chef is Anthony Salguero (Plumed Horse, Commonwealth, Saison). The 60-seat restaurant and full bar features typical French brasserie cuisine and a drink focus on pastis. Brunch highlights are oysters and savory French fare such as croques monsieur. Dinner Tues.-Sun., Brunch Sat.-Sun. Michel Bistro, 3343 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland, CA 94610, 510-836-8737.
Michael Mina has opened not one but two new restaurants inside 101 California Street in San Francisco's Financial District, both in partnership with chef Ken Tominaga of Sonoma County's Hana Japanese Restaurant. The first is Pabu, a refined, modern Japanese izakaya and sushi bar. Featuring an atmosphere both rustic and urbane, the restaurant has a full bar, 22-seat sushi bar and omakase experience from chef Tominaga and young sushi chef Yoji Harada (Pabu Baltimore), and a warm dining room built to welcome sophisticated FiDi diners. Lunch at Pabu is served Monday through Friday, and dinner nightly. The Ramen Bar offers a fast-casual Tokyo-style ramen experience for lunch Monday through Friday, with some outdoor terrace seating. Pabu & The Ramen Bar, 101 California St., San Francisco, CA 94111, Pabu: 415-668-7228; The Ramen Bar: 415-684-1570.
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. On Thanksgiving, chef Gaston Alfaro will showcase holiday specials, including a house-roasted local turkey with all the trimmings, Dungeness crab pumpkin bisque and pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap crust. The dinner will be available for $21.50 for adults and $11.50 for children. They will also 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.
A16 Rockridge Debuts Café Service
A16 Rockridge, the tony East Bay location of Shelley Lindgren's A16 restaurant group, has started a café-style menu in the Italian tradition that runs from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays, and weekends from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. On offer are classic coffee drinks, light breakfast and lunch items such as scaccia, focaccia, antipasti, frittatas and wood-fired pizzas, snacks and southern Italian pastries such as zeppole and sfogliatelle, all also available for take-out. Wines by the glass, beers, juices and house-made sodas join the coffee drinks on the beverage menu. Nightly dinner service and Sunday brunch remain the same. A16 Rockridge, 5356 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618, 510-768-8003.
Three Courses for $37 at Plin
Alexander Alioto's Plin restaurant now features three courses for $37 every Tuesday through Thursday from 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m., with additional options such as a $7 dessert and a $10 wine pairing. Menus include choices such as fried Mary's chicken with crispy white polenta and sautéed kale; salt seared Monterey Bay calamari with eggplant caponata; and braised Niman Ranch pork cheek with sweet potato purée. Reservations are recommended, but walk-ins are welcome. Plin, 280 Valencia St., San Francisco, CA 94103, 415-655-9510.
New Chef's Table at Burritt Room + Tavern
Burritt Room + Tavern now offers a chef's table experience from executive chef Luke Knox called BR+Table. At a specially prepared communal table featuring locally crafted art, linens, plateware and glassware, guests are served five courses with beverage pairings --- all ingredients and beverages are also local --- for $105 per person, inclusive of pairings. Chef's table dinners are available Wednesday-Friday at dinner only. Reserve at least 48 hours in advance by calling 415-400-0555. Burritt Room + Tavern, Mystic Hotel , 417 Stockton St., San Francisco, CA 94108, 415-400-0561.
New Cookbook from Tacolicious
Tacolicious has a new cookbook called Tacolicious: Festive Recipes for Tacos, Snacks, Cocktails and More. It delivers easy instructions on how to make all-time favorites like classic guacamole, delicious margaritas, homemade horchata and a variety of tacos. Read more on GAYOT's Tumblr. Tacolicious, 2031 Chestnut St., San Francisco, CA 94123, 415-346-1966.
Pacific's Edge at Hyatt Carmel Highlands has a new executive chef in Chad Minton. Minton's former kitchens include The Ritz-Carlton properties in San Francisco and Atlanta as well as Marina del Rey, where he was executive chef of jer-ne restaurant + bar; and Hyatt locations in San Francisco, Vancouver and New York City, where Minton was executive chef of Andaz 5th Avenue. Pacific's Edge, Hyatt Carmel Highlands, 120 Highlands Dr., Carmel, CA 93923, 831-622-5445.
Restaurant Michael Mina has a new lead sommelier. Evan Hufford comes to the restaurant from a year at Saison, where he was head sommelier and then restaurant director. Before that he was with L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon and Joël Robuchon Restaurant in Las Vegas, and sommelier at Arizona's Kai restaurant at Wild Horse Pass Resort for five years. Michael Mina, 252 California St., San Francisco, CA 94111, 415-397-9222.
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 will close after dinner service on November 29. Local's Corner, 2500 Bryant St., San Francisco, CA 94110, 415-800-7945.
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 December 1, 2014, 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. The 70-seat dining room will undergo a moderate refresh; Fresca's signature pisco bar and ceviche menu will be highlights, as will a weekday happy hour. Pasion, 737 Irving St., San Francisco, CA 94122, 415-742-5727.
Fans of diminutive South of Market favorite Marlowe should note that the restaurant has left its digs at 330 Townsend St. and reopened two blocks north in Coco500's former space at 500 Brannan St. Marlowe, 330 Townsend St., San Francisco, CA 94107, no phone.
Romantic Mission hideaway Woodward's Garden closed September 30, after 22 years, leaving behind many bereft regulars. The eclectic little bistro was known for its atmosphere of "dreamy escape" and notable California cuisine from chef-owners Margie Conard and Dana Tommasino. Among the final tweets read one that simply said, "It was such a lovely run.” Woodward's Garden, 1700 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94103, no phone.
Chris Yeo, known locally for his stylish enclaves that serve Singaporean and Southeast Asian cuisine, has closed his Straits Restaurant on the fourth floor of the Westfield San Francisco Centre. Yeo's original Straits Cafe was in San Francisco on Geary Street, and was open for nearly 20 years before he moved into the Westfield in 2006. His Straits properties in Burlingame, Houston and San Jose's Santana Row remain open, as does his Sino restaurant, also on Santana Row. Straits Restaurant, Westfield San Francisco Centre, 845 Market St., 4th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103, no phone.
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