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News for Restaurants in San Francisco
January 2009 Archive

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Want to know who's doing what in your city? Gayot has the restaurant news you want to read on openings, closings, special events, and more. Learn everything you need to know about the restaurants in San Francisco here.

RESTAURANT NEWS

Openings

Pho fans will be happy to see new restaurant Pot de Pho in the Geary Boulevard space that formerly housed Spanish Fly and, previously, the original Straits Café. Owned by Vietnam-born chef Khai Duong (Ana Mandara), the traditional Vietnamese soup restaurant features long-simmered, savory, combinations of fresh, organic broth, vegetables, meats and house-made rice noodles, topped with fresh herbs, chilies, pickled onion, lime and Thai basil and served with an array of sauces in varying levels of heat. Vegan pho is also available, as well as additional Vietnamese starters, salads, sides and mains (rolls, barbecued meats, crêpes). The airy, mustard and soft green interior soars with tasteful art, cloth-covered light fixtures, decorative birdcages and a 1960s-era pho street cart, and features communal tables as well as an alcove with leather chairs and ottomans. Pho is served in traditional green jade bowls. Lunch & Dinner daily. Pot de Pho, 3300 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94118, 415-668-0826.
 
Charles Phan's newest venture opened on January 17 inside the SOMA Grand luxury apartment complex. The eclectic cocktail lounge, noodle shop and Chinese restaurant---called Heaven's Dog & Noodle Shop---features upscale Chinese goodies such as pork dumplings, salt-and-pepper squid, roast duck with hoisin sauce, and noodle stir-fries. The space also features a luxe bar and more casual noodle eatery for lunch. Cocktails will be a highlight, with consulting mixologists from Slanted Door (Erik Adkins, bar manager), Thad Vogler (Beretta), Jackie Patterson (Zinnia) and others. An outdoor patio provides seating for about two dozen diners. Lunch Mon.-Fri., Dinner nightly. Heaven's Dog & Noodle Shop, SOMA Grand, 1148 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94103, 415-863-6008.
 
The Jewish Community Center of San Francisco has an elaborate and contemporary new food court, courtesy of eclectic chef and business owner Joanna Karlinsky (Meetinghouse Biscuits, Hotel Utah) and her partner Victoria Smiser. The ground floor of the choice piece of real estate at Presidio and California streets in Pacific Heights now features a smorgasbord of small foodie concepts, including a gourmet pizzeria, prepared-foods counter, upscale bakery, ice cream stand, fresh juice counter, and pressed-sandwich station using local artisanal cheeses. Soon to be included will be Karlinsky's Meetinghouse full-service catering company and biscuit shipping service. 3200 California St. Open daily.
 

News Bytes

One For the Hopheads
Kiss January's "firm" New Year's resolutions goodbye as San Francisco's Beer Week chugs across the Bay Area from February 6-15. Featuring more than 150 beer-centric events and activities, the festival will celebrate craft beer's long heritage in the region, highlighting famed local brewers such as the Anchor Brewing Company (arguably the father of the artisanal beer movement) and welcoming special guest brewers from the rest of the West Coast and beyond. Events, tastings, speakers, complementary dinners of all sorts (beer isn't picky), classes, competitions, nightly specials and even a bicycle Beer Ride will be on offer in venues from Petaluma to San Francisco, Oakland to Santa Cruz; check www.sfbeerweek.org to see if your favorite ale or establishment is on the calendar.
 
Wine & Dine in 2009
Spruce has announced monthly winemaker dinners for 2009, beginning the night of February 24 with old- and new-world wines from Drouhin winery (the longstanding French company owns vineyards in Oregon). Set to occur one weeknight each month in the restaurant's private dining room, Spruce winemaker events will feature five courses prepared by chef Mark Sullivan to complement that night's producer. Future participants will include Gros, Talley, Pahlmeyer and Martinelli wineries. February's event will cost $130 per person, excluding tax and gratuity; Laurent Drouhin will choose the wines and play co-host to the experience. Check the website for subsequent dates and producers or to make a reservation. Cost varies for each event. Spruce, 3640 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94118, 415-931-5100.
 
The First Pairing
Congratulations to Napa Valley's Duckhorn Vineyards on being selected for service at President Barack Obama's inaugural luncheon on January 20. (Chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and San Francisco native senator Dianne Feinstein may have had a hand in the choice.) On the menu: seafood stew with Duckhorn Vineyards, 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley; the company's Goldeneye, 2005 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, paired with a brace of pheasant and duck served with sour cherry chutney and molasses sweet potatoes.
 
Growing Popularity
Executive chef Jonnatan Leiva of Jack Falstaff celebrates farm-to-table dining with an ongoing series of Growers Dinners throughout 2009. Each event will feature special guests, including notable chefs, local farmers and artisanal producers, as well as wine and beer-makers. Dinners are prix-fixe and served communal style, with multiple courses and pairings focused on a particular agricultural region. The first dinner of the series was held on January 19 and featured Cavedoni balsamic vinegar and producer Paolo Cavedoni. Future events can be found on the restaurant's website, www.jackfalstaff.com. Jack Falstaff, 598 Second St., San Francisco, CA 94107, 415-836-9239.
 
Get Cracking
A weaker than usual opening to Dungeness season (it started mid-November) won't deter top local chefs from celebrating the area's favorite creepy-crawly crustacean during Dungeness Crab Week from February 19-March 1. Though arguably best enjoyed with a simple loaf of sourdough and bottle of wine, fresh cracked crab will be the star ingredient in all manner of preparations at 54 participating Bay Area restaurants such as Bix, Incanto and Delfina. Festival highlights will include a celebrity crab-cracking contest in Union Square on Saturday, February 28, featuring local chefs, San Francisco 49ers and notable personalities, as well as a commemorative cookbook. The event is one of a series of ingredient-driven celebrations leading up to SF Chefs. Food. Wine. in August. For a complete list of participating restaurants during Dungeness Crab Week or to learn more, visit www.sfchefsfoodwine.com.
 

Chef Shuffle

Located adjacent to the Sir Francis Drake hotel, upscale Scala's Bistro has marked the bustling Powell Street entrance to Union Square for more than a decade; the clubby dining room should now draw more traffic than ever as former "Top Chef" contestant Jennifer Biesty (London's The River Café, Jardinière, Coco500) has taken over as executive chef. Biesty's freshened menu includes a daily crudo and a wide array of artisanal, house-made ingredients, from pastas and cheeses to baccala and duck prosciutto. She joins veteran pastry chef Tim Nugent on the Scala's team. Scala's Bistro, Sir Francis Drake Hotel, 432 Powell St., San Francisco, CA 94102, 415-395-8555.
 
Chef Anne Gingrass-Paik (Hawthorne Lane, Postrio, Spago) has taken over the kitchen at Brix Restaurant & Gardens in Napa Valley, which recently returned to its original name after a brief stint as 25-Degrees Brix. Renovations in 2008 transformed the Yountville restaurant (hence the temporary name change); Gingrass-Paik plans to craft contemporary, French-accented, farm-to-table cuisine for the revamped space, drawing from the restaurant's own surrounding gardens and seasonal ingredients from throughout Wine Country. Brix Restaurant & Gardens, 7377 St. Helena Hwy., Hwy. 29, Napa, CA 94558, 707-944-2749.
 
In a surprise move, chef George Morrone (Aqua, Fifth Floor Restaurant & Lounge, Redwood Park) has taken over the kitchens at the Cliff House (also known as Sutro's). Perched above the Pacific, the restaurant is better known for its spectacular views than its food and service, which are both fairly lackluster. Hopefully, with the arrival of Morrone, that will all change quickly and permanently and diners can enjoy the best of both. Sutro's, The Cliff House, 1090 Point Lobos Ave., San Francisco, CA 94121, 415-386-3330.
 

Closings

Longtime Castro destination Mecca shuttered on January 22, 2009. Though few details have been released, the once hopping restaurant and lounge was no doubt yet another victim of the suffering economy.
 
Several beloved Bay Area neighborhood standouts have shuttered over the past few weeks, among them Baraka in Potrero Hill, JoJo's in Oakland and Cafe de la Paz in Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto. Also of note in these tough economic times: Cetrella in Half Moon Bay has parted ways with chef Blair Warsham, and the restaurant will be closed through April 30, 2009.
 

CULINARY EVENTS
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